Startups often follow a one-size-fits-all model when they initially launch. Sometimes, it makes sense for a business to continue to follow this approach, whereas other times, a one-size-fits-all strategy can limit growth because it fails to account for consumers' wide range of tastes.
The definition of one-size-fits-all services or products hinges on a complete lack of customization. Everyone gets the same product or service for the same price. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram represent examples of the one-size-fits-all model since everyone receives the same experience and features. As another example, it's a lot cheaper and easier to print one version of an English dictionary, rather than to maintain double the resources to create both an American English and British English version.
On the other hand, most types of clothing are the exact opposite of the definition of one size fits all. Because everyone comes in a wide range of sizes, nearly every piece of clothing has to come in different shapes and sizes as well in order to satisfy as many people as possible. The best approach for your business depends on what you're selling and the breadth of resources you have available.
Why Choose One Size Fits All
One size fits all makes sense as a lean startup option because you can funnel limited resources toward a specific product or service instead of spreading them too thin. By not offering customization, you only need to have one manufacturing line set up, and fewer variables to customize means fewer opportunities to mess up an order. This allows you to feel comfortable with the process before you expand your offerings.
In terms of services, following a one-size-fits-all approach can help you create stable, flat-rate pricing and develop a service routine. For example, if you offer manicures, it's easier to perform the same process for the same price on all nails rather than giving a custom quote for people with long nails, short nails, missing fingers, etc.
Now imagine that you employ 20 people to give manicures at your salon, and it becomes even more clear why a one-size-fits-all service approach makes it easier to train employees and track their productivity. For every single customized option you offer, you have to train your employees and funnel extra resources toward its creation. You'll need an effective way to track each custom feature in your accounts as well. A one-size-fits-all approach can prove beneficial when you value simplicity.
Cons of One-Size-Fits-All Products and Services
You may not want to offer a one-size-fits-all product or service if each customer in your industry has widely different expectations. People do not want to pay for what they don't need, and you run the risk of making customers feel overcharged if you only offer one type of service package or an overly customized product.
In addition, a lack of customization can leave you at a competitive disadvantage if other businesses in your niche have moved away from the one-size-fits-all option. You'll end up leaving customers on the table who know they can get what they want from someone else.
A one-size-fits-all approach does not allow you to use the "good, better, best" pricing strategy to upsell more robust products and services. Diversifying your products and services also opens you up to additional revenue streams.
Customizing Your Services or Products
Startups usually follow a one-size-fits-all approach on a temporary basis until the business has enough financial stability to offer customization. For example, you can produce a limited run of products in different colors to discover which ones resonate best with your audience before scaling up production. In terms of services, consider developing upgraded add-on services that are optional but recommended for a full experience. Creating "bronze," "silver" and "gold" service packages can also allow customers to choose what best fits their needs.
If you're stumped about how to proceed, do a little competitor research to see how they have organized their services or customized their products. Read public reviews to find out if their customers are happy with those options or wishing for something different.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.