When I used to go to the supermarket for cereal, I was presented with the pleasingly simple choice between Frosties, Weetabix, Honey Nut Cornflakes, Coco Pops and Sugar Puffs (aah memories).
That was about it. It was quick. And it was easy.
Now there seems to be around 400 different options to choose from.
And practically all of them have jumped on the health bandwagon, too!
So as well as having to select between apple, cinnamon, chocolate, strawberry, apricot, hazelnut, banana, and whatever else, I now have to decide whether it’s more important for me to have stronger bones, a healthier heart, a reduced risk of cancer or a more regular poop schedule.
It’s so confusing these days, it makes my head hurt.
The last time I went to Tesco, I was so paralysed by indecision that a small child attempted to push me over, no doubt putting his theory to the test that a man who hadn’t moved for 20 minutes must not be real.
Shocked and even more confused by my supermarket ordeal, I pushed him back, grabbed a box of Count Chocula and hot-footed it out of there before I got rumbled by the Tesco police.
But without this unfortunate incident, I may well have given up on my cereal quest altogether and left.
And that’s my point.
Whatever we try to buy these days, the choices are endless, and often confusing.
As a result, many consumers are now suffering from a kind of “choice paralysis”, where they’re presented with so many options that they become unable to decide on any of them at all.
And you need to make absolutely sure that you’re not making this mistake in your business, because believe me, it will be affecting your bottom line.
“But Nick”, I don’t hear you say…
“I have lots of elements to my products and services, and therefore I need to give my consumers different purchasing options. So what do I do?”
Well, there is a way around it my friend.
And it’s pretty simple.
Have you noticed how many times you see gold, silver and bronze packages these days?
They’re being used by everyone, from internet marketers with their software packages, training programmes and membership sites, to SEO providers, website designers and hosting companies, to name just a few.
And it’s because this technique WORKS.
It strips out all the confusion and potential for indecision, by limiting the prospect’s choices to something more manageable.
Instead of 20 or 30 different options to consider, the customer is presented with 3, or perhaps 5 choices at the most (if you include categories like Diamond, Platinum or Titanium, for example, which provide even more perceived value beyond Gold).
This is so important when trying to convert a prospect into a customer, because indecision often leads to inaction, as my supermarket misadventure proved.
The longer your prospect spends thinking and deliberating, the more time you’re giving them to reconsider their original decision to buy.
And that’s dangerous.
Because no doubt you’ve put a huge amount of effort and money into getting the prospect to land on your website or sales page in the first place, right?
And you’ve spent a lot of money and time on your sales copy, which has clearly done the business because the prospect is staring at your ordering options, ready to whip out their credit card and buy.
You’ve done all of the hard work.
You’re almost there.
And now it’s time for the close.
But all of this effort could be wasted if you confuse and frustrate your prospect with too many choices.
So keep things simple, and make the ordering process as fast as you can with a maximum of 3-5 purchasing options.
Trust me, it works.
Right then, I’m feeling a bit peckish.
I think it’s time for a tasty bowl of Count Chocula.
Noooooooh, they’re all gone…
Nick Cobb is a direct response copywriter and the founder of Write For You Ltd, a copywriting agency based in London. He lives in Essex with his wife Rachel, a nutritionist, and their dog Dexter, who is not.