You are giving too many options

The other day the kids were at the in-laws and Sarah was having a rare girls night out.  

I had the house to myself!  

I wanted to get a “guy’s” movie on Netflix.  Something with a lot of car chases and shootouts.  

I begin endlessly scrolling through the Netflix screen.  Endlessly.

Fast forward to a few hours later.

Sarah arrives home and I have just started Skyfall.  

“What have you been up to?” Sarah asks.  

I wasn't really sure. 

It appears that I had been scanning Netflix, watching movie trailers, and overthinking my options.  

I had too many movies to choose from and I became overwhelmed.

The same can be true of your business.

Giving your customer too many options is giving them no option at all.

Take this case study for example:
Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University, conducted an interesting study in 1995. She set up a display of 24 samples of jam for customers to taste, and every few hours, she switched to a 6 sample set. The results were astonishing: 60% of customers stopped to try the jams when the selection was large versus 40% when small; and 30% of those that stopped when the selection was small purchased a jam, versus 3% when the selection was large.

A great example of a business that understands this is PCS, an I.T. company in Knoxville, TN.  

Like most I.T. companies, PCS offers over a dozen services.  However, they strategically package their services to make it easy on the customer.

Does this mean you should eliminate all but one of your different products and services?  


  • Do focus on your best one or two options that customers want.
  • Don’t overwhelm people with all of the different things you can do.  
  • Do tell them the specific thing you do that makes their life easier.
  • Don’t give your customers open-ended options.  Give them packages.
If you try to be all things to all people, you run the chance of being nothing to nobody (yes, I know that is a double negative:)

After you have dazzled your new customer with your primary offering, you will begin understanding their other needs.  Then you can begin showing them all of the other cool toys you have!

Oh, I still haven’t watched Skyfall.

Discussion questions:

  • Do you have Netflix?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What is the primary product or service you can/should offer customers?