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Avoiding 'Paradox of Choice' When Connecting With Customers

Posted by Christine B. Whittemore on May 21, 2012 9:45:00 AM

This is a 3 minute read.

Paradox Content ChoiceI've been thinking intensely about connecting with customers online and the role that content plays. At the same time, I'm conscious of how paralyzing the 'Paradox of Choice' can be. How then to avoid paralysis while connecting through content? 

I believe intensely in the effectiveness of content. Content allows us to tell our story, to educate potential customers about problems to be solved, and to demonstrate credibility and trustworthiness over time.

However, it's not just any content. It's content that embraces the customer's point-of-view, creating meaning by sifting through the firehose of information available online and providing perspective. It's curated content [aka content curation].

[By the way, my musings about content and meaning are directly related to being involved in Content Curation: Making Meaning Out of Chaos at Info360.]

There's no denying that content is proliferating online: 5 exabytes of information is created ~ every 2 days according to Google CEO Schmidt: "People Aren't Ready for the Technology Revolution". Think of all of the photos, videos, tweets and updates. It's wonderful to have access to so much information, but it's also overwhelming - even paralyzing - for customers.

When we focus too much on quantity of content [think regurgitating a press release without adding commentary, filling web pages with words without considering the person who will be reading the information...] - at the expense of quality, we contribute to the chaos. We turn off customers. We provide no value. We are responsible for a lousy customer experience.

We shouldn't be surprised if customers and prospects shut down, focus on price as objection, unsubscribe from our communications and screen calls from us.

However, if we say Farewell to Content Overload and embrace the principles that Sheena Iyengar describes in her book The Art of Choosing [see BRITE Conference 2011: Highlights]:

Today's marketplace is designed for experts, but we aren't all experts. Here are three techniques to improving the choosing experience:
The ideal number of choices that our perception and memory can handle: magical #7 +/- 2 [Note: experts can handle more choices in their area of expertise.]

1. Cut: careful trimming can increase sales and improve profitability. It eliminates redundant options.
2. Categorize. Experts do this; very helpful for novices.  Best Cellars does this effectively for wine, grouping them into 8 categories, with more information within each category. Be useful to the chooser, not the creator of the category.
3. Condition for Complexity

If you are serious, then, about connecting with customers, avoiding the "Paradox of Choice", and contributing quality content online, I recommend the following:
  • Add meaning to anything you create and publish online for customers
  • Create to other sources to add meaning
  • Don't repeat the same content multiple times
  • Add a point-of-view to your content that customers will consider relevant and meaningful
  • Don't make your content only about you
  • Think how to build community through your content
What would you add? How do you bring meaning to your customers? How do you make sense out of all the information available about your industry and category? Which solution has helped you connect with customers? 

Topics: customer experience, Digital Marketing

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