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How not to buy tea

I wanted to buy tea. Easy, right?

Wrong!

Our local supermarket carries hundreds of different teas. Which means that for someone like me who is not an expert tea drinker it’s not easy to find the right one. Luckily (or not), the supermarket figured that out, too. So, they put up some signs for better orientation.

And achieved the opposite.

I’ve never counted the number of signs in the image above which is an actual photograph of the tea aisle in that supermarket. It’s a crazy number of signs. There are large signs and small ones. Some indicate the cheaper ones, others the new ones. Some indicate the organic ones. Some are even combinations of these. All of them wildly spread across the aisle.

The thing is: I’m only going to buy one tea, maybe two or three. Certainly not 50. But how am I supposed to choose?

The trouble with so many signs is that I don’t even know where to start looking. They are meant to provide orientation, but due to their sheer number they actually provide disorientation.

This is a general observation regarding prioritisation. When everything’s important, nothing’s important.

This approach delegates the task of prioritising to the customer.

That’s true for your marketing problem, too. If you don’t focus, you’re essentially delegating that task to your audience. If you put up too many signs, you’re asking them to prioritise.

The bad news is that – just like me in the supermarket – they will. They will pick one message, maybe two. Certainly not 23.

(And if things go really bad, they will just leave without any tea, frustrated with the paradox of choice.)

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