The Illusion of Choice


I have a friend who sells shoes for living. He is very good at it and he once revealed to me his most successful selling tactic. When a customer comes to his store, she is almost never an expert for choosing the right shoes. It is the role of the salesperson to give the customer an impression that all of the sudden the customer is an expert shoe shopper. In the experience of my friend, the best tactic to give the customer such illusion, is to present the customer with three choices and then letting her "decide". The first choice presented is cheap, but lacks many essential features. The second choice has many fancy features but it's quite expensive. Finally, the third choice is just a bit more expensive than the first one, while it has almost all the fancy features of the most expensive choice. The customer is now living in a frame induced by the sales person and she confidently chooses the second option, which was the option that the salesperson actually wanted to sell. To maximize profits, my shoe selling friend picks the three options for every customer individually, based on his quick assessment of purchasing power of the customer that has entered his store. At Zemanta we suck at selling big time and we are only slowly transforming ourselves to a market driven organization. The initial results of this transformation are very reassuring and I think this year we will write less code and read more about marketing.