[Business]: Avoiding "Choice Stress"

One of my favorite words in the Dutch language is "keuzestress."

It quite literally translates to "choice stress", though I would amend it to mean "the stress of having too many choices."

I first learned this word when I was telling my (Dutch) friend about Wal-Mart. I was back in Maine, standing in the aisle for chips, pretzels, and other snack foods. I sent him a picture of all of the different types of Tostito's salsas to choose from and he said:

"Wow, that would give me so much keuzestress."

I was recently reminded of this word while reading The Tall Lady With The Iceberg: The Power of Metaphors to Sell, Persuade, and Explain Anything to Anyone by Anne Miller. Right off the bat, she talks about how people shut down when they are given too much information. As she states:

"[Sales people] tend to make two mistakes. The first is that, rather than choose their words carefully, they inundate their listener with everything they know...the second reason my clients fail [is because] too much other information competes for their listeners' attention."

She says that the key to making great sales is not to present your audience with every little feature and benefit that your product offers. Instead, you should figure out which benefit is most important to the listener and focus on that. 

More importantly, she argues, you should use a metaphor to drive that principle home. 

Branding 101: Keep It Simple, Stupid

I wholeheartedly agree with Miller. In fact, it aligns well with the basic tenant of branding: that you should keep your messaging simple and to the point. Simple messages are the easiest to remember. And the companies that are easiest to remember will stand out from the rest.

This is why your company should zero in on one specific thing. Even though it sounds counter-intuitive. But the trick is that when you specialize in something, you become known as the best in doing what you do

Here's the thing. You don't want to appeal to everybody. Just like I read in Don't Sweat the Small Stuff as a teenager, not everybody is going to like you and you aren't going to like everybody.

That's okay. That's life. 

Your business is the same. Not everybody is going to be the right buyer for you. 

Instead, you want to find the most qualified leads possible. When it comes to your website, and your business, that means tailoring to people who know exactly what they want. 

I'll give you an example from my own life. 

If you didn't know, I'm a yoga aficionado. I particularly love doing hot yoga, also known as Bikram. Whenever I move to a new city I try to find a studio that is near my house that has this class. 

You know how I do that? By typing "Hot Yoga [insert city or neighborhood here]" and clicking on the first option.

I do this because I want to keep it simple

  • I know what I want
  • I know where I want it
  • I don't want to sort through a bunch of bullshit
  • I have my credit card ready

In digital marketing, we call these types of search queries "Long Tail" searches. They are searches made by buyers who already know what they want. The alternative is called a "Head Term", an example of which would have been "Yoga in [city]".

When I moved to Amsterdam, I started working at a yoga studio that gave me free yoga. However, it was on the complete opposite side of town, and I was way less likely to go all the way there for classes on the weekends.

So you know what I did? I typed in "hot yoga Amsterdam Oost" ("Oost" is the general term for the East side of town). 

Here's what I got:

hot yoga amsterdam oost - Google Search 2018-03-28 11-02-59.png

See that first choice, called "Equal Yoga"? 

Guess which one I clicked on first. 

When the page loaded, I was presented with this: 

Equal Yoga - Hot Power Yoga - Amsterdam 2018-03-28 11-07-24.png

Immediately I see a picture of their space, along with the text:

"Hot. Power. Yoga: 1st Week Intro only €7,50 for 8-days unlimited yoga."

That's intriguing, right? 8 WHOLE days of yoga for just €7,50? I was interested.

So I went over to the "Classes" Tab to see what they offered. 

Equal Yoga - Hot Power Yoga - Amsterdam 2018-03-28 11-35-08.png
Equal Yoga - Hot Power Yoga - Amsterdam 2018-03-28 11-35-26.png

Equal only has five classes, four of which are yoga. Each of these is heated to a minimum of 89 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celcius). They also have a barre class that is heated to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celcius).

Every single page of their website is clear in stating "WE DO HOT YOGA." That's why they popped up first. Their SEO was tailored to people looking for hot yoga in my area of town.

They also made the sales process easy. The design was simple and easy to use, I didn't have to click too many different places, and each page was optimized with a "Book a Class" button.

All of that, combined with the fact that I could try out their classes essentially risk-free for 8 days sold me. 

So I bought it. I didn't ask questions. I didn't stop to think. I was able to tell immediately what they sold and was convinced. I figured "hey, if I don't like it I only lose €8."

In other words, the barrier to entry was so low that I didn't have to think about what choice to make.

And you know what? It worked. I got a chance to try out what they had to offer, and I loved it. I was a premium client for 3 months, purchasing their unlimited yoga package. I only canceled my membership because I was moving to a different city. And I will still advocate that this is the best hot yoga studio in the city. 

Avoiding Choice Stress In Your Sales Funnel

My situation finding a yoga studio is not unique. We all do this literally every single day. 

Our brains CRAVE simplicity. And I can hardly blame them. We are worried about other things in life, not about comparing different yoga studios in the city. 

For me, Equal's simplicity was a godsend. I didn't have time to sort through the bullshit of other studios just to figure out pricing. I bought it right away because they made the process easy. And if I didn't like the class, I was only out €8, a hit that I could take. 

There weren't tons of different options for me to choose from. There wasn't a weird pricing scheme. They had removed every barrier that I could think of, so I went ahead and bought it without considering other studios. 

Your buyers are doing this too. They are busy people who don't have time to sort through your website to figure out what it is you are actually selling. They just want something that is easy to work with and which looks nice. That's why a good web designer will stress the importance of copywriting and vice versa. 

As long as you seem credible and the barrier to entry is low, people will come to you.

Some Practical Tips To Create A Simple Buying Process:

There are a few things that everyone can do to increase sales by simplifying their sales funnel. A few of them are:

  1. Use simple language.
  2. Reduce the number of choices.
  3. Make the clickthrough process logical.
  4. Provide relevant information upfront (like Equal's description of their classes; customers don't have to go to a new page for each one).
  5. Keep your messaging consistent.
  6. Make the Call to Action obvious. 

Copywriters are naturally simple people. The good ones at least. They will work with you to boil your ideas down to the simple core. Then they will take this and write it in plain language that your buyers can understand.