What I learned about too many choices from Quiznos.

I was very hungry.

And then I got very confused.

Take a look at the picture in this blog and you’ll see what I mean.

This was the wall of a Quiznos I was visiting.  I call it, the “Wall of Promotions,” or “What happens when a Marketing Director throws up.”

There’s a Chicken Bacon Dipper special, a Cheesesteak special, Chopped Salads (yeah, right?), Combo Deals, and more.  What’s a customer to do with all these choices?

Pick none of them.

That’s what I did, anyway.  I ordered my usual “classic Italian,” which was cheaper than all of the stuff they were puking pitching to me through posters.

It’s very easy to want to give a customer a lot of choices that you think are great and a lot of entrepreneurs make this mistake.  It’s actually one of my greatest flaws as a marketer, as I’m always wanting to add another product to my shelf.  (And in e-marketing, it’s usually a good idea, as described in The Long Tail.)

But to the consumer, a lot of choices can actually make them shut down and stop shopping.  Unfortunately, our minds are not as open as you think (Somewhat of a side note – ever wonder why a phone number only has 7 digits?  It’s because you can’t remember more – click here to see what I’m talking about).

Don’t believe me?

Lots of scientists have studied choices in the decision making process.  Here’s a link  to one set of results from a researcher who studied the number of jars of jam offered to customers at a grocery story.  On different days, she either put out 6 different flavors or 24 flavors.  Sure, a lot more people stopped by her table when the Baskin-Robbins like 24 flavors were out (60% of passerby  but only 3% of those actually bought jam.  When only 6 flavors were out, a smaller percentage actually stopped (40%), but a whopping 30% bought!  People were “6 times more likely to buy a jar of jam if they had encountered 6 than if they encountered 24.”

How can we apply this to the theater?

How many prices of tickets do you have in your house?  1?  3?  More than 3?  Warning light.

What about subscription options for you non-profit road houses.  Full season?  Partial Season?  Flex pass?  Bacon Cheesesteak Semi-Subscription with a upgrade?

How about merchandise?  Do you have too many t-shirt choices that people aren’t picking any?

Be careful about how many choices you offer your audience.  Focus on the few, and you’ll get more conversions.  Don’t, and, your audience may choose something else entirely.

And that will really make your Marketing Director throw up.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.