On Facebook, “It’s complicated” is one of the choices for describing your relationship status. It’s complicated is a fall back choice when none of the other check boxes quite work. Your situation may be a mixture of choices, without clear descriptions and labels. It’s complicated sounds messy but in reality check boxes don’t always work and we are forced to select the least wrong box.
In marketing we often force our customers into these same murky choices. Do we want toothpaste that whitens our teeth, gives us fresh breath, prevents cavities or improves the health of our gums? Do you want body lotion that softens skin, defies aging, or reduces the appearance of imperfections? Customers with multiple needs may be forced to prioritize and pick a product that excels at solving their highest priority need.
As a consumer I have had the frustrating experience of choosing when in fact I wanted everything. Why couldn’t everything be miracle in a bottle or at the least focus on one thing, eliminating the myriad of confusing choices?
When you present multiple benefits and features, you run the risk of confusing or irritating your potential customer. You may believe that by offering choices – multiple payment options, plans, benefits – that you are doing your customer a favor but your plan can backfire.
Too many choices can lead customers to:
Walk away because they are overwhelmed by the options
Your customer may go in search of a solution to a specific need. When presented with lots of options they may also realize they have more than one problem. Overwhelmed by options and problems they did not know they had, they walk away.
Reassess their need and decide they can live with the pain
Last week I was in the mood for a snack food. I had a clear choice in mind but when I arrived at the store I was assaulted with options. After calorie counting and label reading, I decided it wasn’t worth it and simply walked away. Are your customers doing the same thing?
This does not mean that we should eliminate choice but we need to be more strategic about when and how they are offered. Offer the customer with a specific need, a clear choice right up front. If you need “x” click here. Other customers may need help deciding their priority, make it easy for them to choose, divide them into a manageable category with a limited menu of choices that does not overwhelm.
Presenting your customers with easy to make choices is equivalent to giving them their own “miracle in a bottle.” The last thing you want is to have your potential customers declaring “it’s too complicated” and walking away.
Have you ever been ready to buy and then changed your mind because the options were overwhelming? Do you have any examples of companies that do a great job of offering just the right amount of choice?
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