The Math Inside Oatmeal Cookies

The arithmetic of serving customers seems easy at first glance.

Add more things that customers want. Get more business.

Annie likes oatmeal cookies. Annie orders 12 oatmeal cookies. You surprise Annie by adding 1 extra oatmeal cookie.

The result?

12 oatmeal cookies + cookie = one more happy customer.

Bob likes oatmeal cookies. Bob likes chocolate. Bob orders 12 oatmeal cookies. You surprise Bob by giving him 12 oatmeal & chocolate chip cookies.

The result?

12 oatmeal cookies + chocolate = one less happy customer.

Adding more can subtract business.


Because adding the chocolate actually ruins the taste of the cookies for Bob. He doesn’t want to mix oatmeal and chocolate. And he’s very happy buying his chocolate from the chocolate store. 

Celine likes oatmeal cookies. Celine orders 12 oatmeal cookies. You surprise Celine by giving her an offer of one extra oatmeal cookie for every new customer she refers. Celine refers 12 new customers right away. The 12 new customers are happy.

12 oatmeal cookies + bonus = 13 more happy customers.

Adding more can multiply business.

Is this just about cookies?

Do you think Bob really wants you to add that extra feature to your software which he already gets somewhere else?

Is Celine a thought leader in the industry who also happens to love your new product?

Stop adding things that subtract value and add more things that multiply value.

Tytus Michalski