Are Too Many Options Paralyzing Your Customers?

Customers today are overwhelmed with so many marketing messages.  Even when they are prepared and seeking out information, the countless results can be too much for anyone to handle. How can you cut through the clutter and simplify the buying experience for your customer?

I recently read an article about how too many choices can paralyze us with indecision. To tell you the truth, I was relieved after reading it! I avoid malls and flea markets and basically any other locations that have way too many options, even more than I avoid cold calls from salesmen. I just can’t focus enough to make a choice. Especially if someone is staring me down. Apparently, this is extremely common.  In fact, I am in really good company…the president is in on this too! As he told Vanity Fair back in 2012:

“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” [Obama] said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

This article said that too many choices actually cause our brains to start asking other questions and can multiply the actual decisions that have to be made. Basically we can overwhelm ourselves. That got me thinking…if it can happen to us, it can definitely happen to our customers, right?

How are we protecting our customers from decision paralysis? It seems like the obvious choice is to limit the number of decisions they actually have to make or maybe a better way to do it is to limit the options they have to choose from. So how can we limit options when we have so much awesomeness to share?

Consider Apple or Trader Joes approach:

From a branding perspective, turning complexity into simplicity yields sublime customer experiences. Like Brian Bailey observed on Buffer, companies like Trader Joe’s and Apple offer fewer choices. In return customers reward this minimalistic, high-quality retail experience with loyalty. They return to buy again and again.

Are Too Many Options Paralyzing Your Customers? | How to simplify the customer decision making process

About a year ago at WC Smith, we noticed that people were getting lost on our corporate website. They were spending hours on the site, visiting far too many property pages and either filling out zero contact inquiries or filling out WAY too many. Either way, it spelled disaster for the quality of the lead and the potential closing ratio. You see, WC Smith has 89 properties all in one city. The selection is overwhelming. We thought we had categorized it well; by zip code, neighborhood, metro stop, but in our customer’s eyes this just led to more options, more considerations, and ultimately too many decisions.

Before we started limiting options, we talked to our customer. Listening to the questions and apartment features that mattered most to them gave us a completely new concept. {Hint the new categories were so obvious, but somehow we had totally overlooked them}. Now we have a road map for the redesign of our site search feature…it’s going to take some time to implement and test, but it’s what the customer is demanding.

So what does this mean for you and your apartment community?

Instead of your leasing agent showing prospective residents all 23 one bedroom floor plans in your fabulous new luxury apartment high-rise, maybe asking them if they prefer a bigger living room or bedroom would be a better approach.

Instead of showing prospective residents multiple finish packages and asking them to choose a color collection, maybe you ask what color their furniture is-that’s not even a decision,they should already know that {although, I’m willing to bet there are a few people out there right now really struggling to remember what color their couch is}! Regardless, it’s much less pressure on your prospect than the 23 floor plans staring them in the face.

Most sales people are/should be trained to do this as part of the warming up process. But isn’t that way too late in the sales cycle or marketing funnel or review tunnel or whatever we want to call the buyer’s selection process today? We know that the decision is already 70% made when they cross our leasing office threshold. How many communities are getting eliminated before they even have a real chance?

Are you even getting that chance?

Is it too far out to think that prospects are seeing all of the choices online and getting stuck before they even pick up the phone or email us? How many people could you be losing because they are overwhelmed and just can’t make up their mind?

Have we really adopted the advertising technique that is the best for our properties? If your community is one of 100 other building options on a page, what do you think the likelihood is that your property will be chosen?

It’s time to demand a better way to introduce your communities to the apartment hunter. It’s time for a fresh approach.

Otherwise, we could just suggest our customers adopt the Louis CK rule to making decisions easier…but don’t you both deserve better?

louis CK

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