Simplicity.   The mere sound of the word is musical.

Listen to your buyers.

If there’s one thing people don’t need in a world of sensory overload, it’s complexity, a sentiment that rings loudly in a survey conducted by IBM’s Institute of Business Value. Consumers say in the study that marketers try too hard to engage with them over social media.

Moreover, they push out too much information. The result? Buyers overthink purchase decisions, which drive them into buyer’s remorse before they’ve even purchased the product. This often causes them to change their minds and abandon the path to purchase altogether.

Help buyers think less about the decision.

In another study by the Corporate Executive Board, consumers expressed, rather begged, marketers to “simplify the decision process” to the point where they think less about the decision. Sounds counter intuive right? It’s actually consistent with other research.

In one study about choice, a grocery store had two display tables of fruit juice products. One table had 12 choices (which drove more traffic) the other had four (which drove more sales).

You can read lots of stories similar to this one in a fascinating book by Dr. Robert Cialdini titled, Influence and the Power of Persuasion

Go Kentucky!

For another example, consider the State of Kentucky, lauded for its smooth healthcare rollout, also known as Kynect.

“Kentucky seems to have a smoother rollout than some other states,” said Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation. When she visited various exchange websites she said, “the one I got through most easily on to get prices and comparisons was the Kynect site.”

Though Ms. Tolbert said she wasn’t certain why the Kentucky site functioned more effectively, she speculated it was likely its pared-down design. It “doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that other states tried to incorporate, like interactive features,” she said. “It’s very straightforward in allowing consumers to browse plans without first creating an account.”

The program manager for the initiative, Chris Clark commented, “We spent an enormous amount of time making it functional,” commenting further that the goal was to provide the most relevant information in under 10 seconds.

Get out of the way

Take a look at your own path to purchase; get the obstacles out of the way. According to the CEB study, brands that simplify decisions are:



  1. 25 March 2014 at 9:29 am
    Michelle Henry says:

    Richard, it’s insane that we make something so simple difficult. I think of the Golden Rule: Treat people the way you want to be treated. Do whatever you can to make your customers feel like your friends.

  2. 26 March 2014 at 4:53 pm
    Richard Fouts says:

    I remember telling a 12 year old once what marketing is all about .. and he said, “well, isn’t all of that just common sense?” Somehow we lose common sense like that articulated in the golden rule.

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