In Business, Less is Often More

Have you ever walked into a store looking for a particular product, and even though
you are looking right at the shelf you can’t see what you’re looking for?

Or you see what you’re looking for but there are so many options you don’t know
where to start?

Now an employee or the owner of the store would know exactly where everything is
– but if there are too many options, it’s like a glaze over your customer’s eyes.

And this is true whether your business is a retail store, a service that you deliver or
an online business – you have to think about it from your customers’ perspective.

Otherwise you may be offering EXACTLY what your customer is looking for – but they
can’t find it (which means they don’t buy it!).

I was talking to the marketing manager of a retail business that I work with and he
had just gone through the store, cleaning up the shelves, grouping the products and
reducing the inventory and his sales had immediately increased.

There is a good book “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath on how to make ideas
“stick” in the mind of your intended audience – one of their key points is less is

If you offer someone 5 choices they are overwhelmed – it takes too much effort to
figure out how to make a choice so they don’t.

If instead you offer two choices the intended result (your customer making a buying
decision) goes up dramatically.

Now, I’m not saying that you should dramatically decrease what you offer to your

I am saying to look at what you offer from your customers perspective – is your
offering confusing? Are you asking your customers to work through things they may
not understand?

There are two key principles here:

1) Look at your business through your customers’ eyes, from their perspective
2) Make it easy to do business with you – be careful not to create barriers for
your customers to make a buying decision

So how does this apply to your business?

Well if you have a retail store – design the layout of your store, product display and
product grouping so it is inviting and easy for the eyes to cover.

I would also recommend you train your team to watch for customers looking around
the store, or staring at a section to ask if they can help. Train your team to ask
probing questions. (For more information on using probing questions read the
Customers Are Starving for Your Knowledge article).

If you have a service business – offer your services in stages rather than everything
up front.

Offering everything at one time is completely overwhelming for your customers –
they don’t know what you and your team know, so for them it is confusing.

You may want to create a decision tree with your team – if the customer’s needs are
A, then offer a particular service; if they are B then offer an alternative.

And if you have an online business (or have a website as part of your business), less
is more. What action do you want your customer to take on your website, what
information do they need?

I highly recommend you track what people are looking for when they visit your
website (track what they click).

Look at your website from your customers’ perspective – is it easy to find what they
are looking for? Is it easy to navigate? Or is it overwhelming?

For a brick and mortar business with a website – the two main pieces of information
that customers go to your website for is your phone and physical address (your
contact info) and your hours of operation.

In my experience it is getting better – but way too many businesses still miss making
their contact information and their hours front and center on their website.

If you have a lot of product or service offerings on your website, you may want to
group them into what the customers are looking for.

A good example is a website for business coaching services grouped all of their
programs (they had over 20) into three categories – and the categories were all
about the customer.

For example, if you have a start-up company chose Package 1; if your company
generates up to $200,000 revenue with up to 3 employees choose Package 2; and if
you are above that choose Package 3.

Make it easy for your customers to see what you offer and make a buying decision.


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