When too much is not enough

08Oct09
 
photo: a scarcity of water (source unknown)

We all are aware of the power of scarcity.  Not long ago, the Nintendo Wii was scarce around the  holidays and people went crazy trying to find one.  Never mind that the toy companies do this to us every holiday season – we still allow them to drive us to desperate measures with scarcity. 

A client of mine in the restaurant business told me that when it comes to a buffet line, the restaurant should keep the pans full (not let the amount of food diminish too much) or the patrons will think the food is scarce and will rush to fill up their plates with it, even if they don’t really want it.  I knew there was more than one reason why I shy away from buffets.

So scarcity can change our behavior dramatically.  What about the opposite?  What about when we have way more of something than we can deal with?  Like too many choices.  Think about paint colors – you can go insane trying to find the perfect color from among of hundreds of shades of yellow.  If we can afford it, we hire an expert (a decorator) to make the selection for us.  Even then, we are never sure we got the best yellow – after all, there were so many good ones.

Today, you can lose your mind trying to get your mind around the information available to you over the internet on any given topic.  Or, you can exhaust yourself trying to sort out the implications of business analytics available to you to run your business.  Technology has made it possible to delve so deeply and widely into the information available regarding any decision in front of us, that we become stymied about the best way forward.  We get stuck in neutral.  Enter the decorator, I mean the expert.

Information is easy to come by.  The internet is making it easier for people to present themselves as experts because with a little effort, they can show up with a lot of information.  But real experts advance the information – they make it relevant to your situation, they reach conclusions and recommend a course of action that you know is right.  Real experts sparkle with an aura of authenticity that comes from having done something remarkable with information. 

If you want your customers to love you more than they love the competition, know things they cannot easily find for themselves.   Data is easy.   Experience and information that includes implications, not so much.

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