Don’t Just Do Something—Stand There! : Why Doing Less Online Yields More Results

Have you ever gone to a diner that had a 15-page menu? Do you remember perusing the many menu options–corned beef, matzah-ball soup, steak and eggs, 15 different salads, etcetera—and thinking to yourself, “This is too much choice”?

The sheer number of options overwhelms. To choose any one dish, you must reject the 1,500 other dishes competing for your attention. This problem—which sociologist Barry Schwartz termed “the paradox of choice”—is remarkably universal. It could even be harming your professional-services marketing strategy—or at least making it much harder than it needs to be.

At its essence, the paradox of choice suggests that adding too many choices to your plate leads to decreased satisfaction and even decreased efficacy.

Whether you market legal, accounting or financial services, when you move into the online-marketing space, be prepared to be inundated with “paradox of choice”-like dilemmas. Consider, for instance, the myriad tactics you can use to market online these days:

  • Employing social media like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
  • Search-engine optimizing (SEO) a website or series of sites to generate traffic from search engines like Google
  • Setting up pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to create leads
  • Developing an affiliate marketing strategy
  • Building a nuanced inbound-link campaign
  • Posting information about your services in relevant online forums
  • Networking with the leading bloggers in your niche to generate traffic and referrals

The list could go on and on! What’s more, the number of choices will only increase in coming years as new tools arrive on the scene.

The size of this menu of options creates an equally sizable risk: It makes it easy for people to hop from tactic to tactic. If your PPC campaign doesn’t deliver results, you can simply switch to Twittering, or vice versa. You can waste a ton of time learning and re-learning tactics without making headway. And even if you do succeed, the 20 zillion other tactics you haven’t tried yet will tempt you away. The whole enterprise can leave you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and ultimately dissatisfied.

So what’s the solution to the “paradox of choice”? One piece is to prioritize some tactics and stick with those. What are your top two tactics right now? Focus on those. Get them up and running—then add another.

To effectively use a host of online marketing tactics you cannot wake up one day and just start utilizing all those tools; you woke up one day and focus on one tactic. Once you refine it, move on to the next.

It’s not just “slow and steady wins the race”—everyone knows that trope. It’s the harder-to-grasp, but ultimately much more productive, wisdom of “less is more.” Reduce your tactics. Limit your choices. Go on what Timothy Ferriss called a “low-information diet.” You might be surprised by the cool ways your business—and even your worldview—expands and deepens.

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