Busy, post-itsWe’re all faced with a bewildering, and sometimes overwhelming, variety of choice in our lives: what shall we have for tea, which utilities supplier shall we go with, which home stereo is the best, what shall we watch on TV tonight. There are even decisions about how we identify ourselves and how we want to look. In fact it’s safe to say there’s probably never been so much choice before.

The problem is making decisions can be difficult and the more choices we have the more difficult it becomes to make a decision, we can feel overloaded by the number of options and unable to cope.

I’ve recently been reading The Paradox of Choice by Professor Barry Schwartz. In The Paradox of Choice he asks if freedom of choice is a good thing because he’s found that the more choice people have the less likely they are to buy.

So as a business owner how can you actually help people choose to buy?

According to Professor Schwartz getting people to make a decision is all about making life easier for consumers rather than torturing them with lots of options. This means structuring the possibilities so that consumers don’t have to look at hundreds of options. For example, you can ask customers just one question at a time:

  • Do you want a fuel efficient car of a powerful car?

Followed by

  • Do you want a German car of a French car?

By using this approach you can make the choice problem less acute and less problematic for buyers.

Professor Schwartz is convinced that businesses that take the initiative by asking the right questions and enable their customers make decisions between two or three things rather than 100 things will start stealing business from businesses that don’t.

So have a look at your marketing material today and ask yourself how much choice you giving your customers. Are you torturing them with too much choice? And if so, what questions can you ask to make life easier for your customers?