The One Thing You Need to Get Your Customers to Take Action
By Brooke Tully | July 3, 2018
These days, I find that I get pretty overwhelmed by the amount of information and advice that’s out there.
I do online searches to see how to make my home more energy efficient. Read through lists on which fish are sustainable to buy. Research ways of reducing my use of plastics.
All these searches and explorations produce hundreds of options. There is a seemingly endless list of things I can do, ways I can improve, and organizations to support.
Yet most of the time, I get so overwhelmed that I don’t do any of them.
There’s a reason for that!
Psychologists and behavioral economists often talk about choice overload, which occurs as a result of too many choices being available to consumers. When faced with too many choices, people will go with their default option (like buying the same cereal they always do) or avoid making a decision altogether.
This behavioral concept was demonstrated in an interesting study where grocery store shoppers were presented with two different jam display tables (Iyengar & Lepper, 2000). One table offered a selection of six jams while another offered 24 different jam flavors. Both tables featured the same brand of jams and shoppers could taste as many as they liked. While the table with more options attracted more shoppers; surprisingly, the table with only six options resulted in more jam purchases (30% versus only 3%).
The researchers concluded that while more options may seem appealing to individuals, it actually reduces their motivation to follow through and take action.
The need for focus
As change agents, our messages and calls-to-action are competing with the overwhelming amount of information and advice that’s out there. Which means they either get lost in the clutter or contribute to choice overload for our audiences.
An important method for breaking through the noise and getting people to take action is to FOCUS our calls-to-action on one thing.
These requested actions must be clear, achievable, and focused on the DO (not the don’t) to guide our audiences towards choices that will both benefit the environment and provide a sense of personal accomplishment.
Picking only one action may feel like a hard trade-off, but it’s necessary for achieving desired results. And with multiple efforts applying this same principle, the whole will ultimately have a bigger impact than the sum of its parts.
In the Harvard Business Review, Richard Straub recommends that socially responsible businesses, “recognize that they are part of a bigger movement, not just individually acting on their own values but collectively working to change expectations and behaviors.”