The options paradox


People say they want a lot of options. But they don’t. Experiments prove this, including a famous one labeled “The Jam Study”.

Researchers set up two tables with fruit jams for purchase. One table had 24 different flavors of jam. The other table had 6.

The table with 24 flavors got 50% more shoppers to visit. But. . . the table with 6 flavors got more sales.

3% of shoppers bought something from the table with 24 options; 30% bought something from the table with just 6 options.

The reason is simple. When confronted with too many choices, people find it difficult to choose. Our brains prefer fewer options because it is easier to decide.

When you’re speaking to a client or prospect about the services you offer, don’t give them too many options. You’ll get fewer sign-ups.

In the calls-to-action in your emails and web pages, don’t include several “asks”. Don’t ask them to download something and share something, fill out a form and Like your post.

Too many options usually gets fewer people to do anything.

So, how many is too many?

You have to test that and find out, but, as a general rule, one or two options is usually best.

One option, “Fill out this form” gives them a choice between getting your report or other incentive (by filling out the form) or getting nothing. They either want the report or they don’t.

Two options, “Service A or Service B” or “Relief from your problem (by hiring you) or continuing to have that problem (by not hiring you)”. Much less to think about.

In marketing, less is (usually) more.

Here’s the formula for getting more clients and increasing your income