Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Path of Least Resistance

At any given moment people are fleeing from problems, some of which are simply the equilibrium points of life: hunger, boredom, physical pain, poverty.

Businesses exist solely as paths of least resistance between where customers are and where they want to be.

To the extent a customer understands their problem very well, its much easier to put forward evidence necessary to convince them to buy your product or service.

If you correctly optimize all visible and invisible traits that convey to your customer the ability to be their path of least resistance compared to other alternatives, then you win.

Examples of this:

* Uber exists because cabs are disgusting and expensive.
* McDonalds exists because people don't want to drive far to eat a reliably consistent, cheap meal.
* Walmart exists because people don't want to visit 17 specialty stores.
* Sonic exists because people want to eat in their cars and not be judged by it.
* BMW exists because some people don't want to identify with poor domestic US car brands. 

To be the path of least resistance:

* Optimize your business/product to solve most/all/enough of the pain.
* Advertise and talk to customers in terms of their specific problem (segmentation)
* Answer all their questions, be very easy to talk to, and generally treat them very kindly.
* Give your customers a clear idea of how long something will take (contrast with alternatives)
* Don't be too slow to pass-on savings to your customers.

Things to avoid:

Some companies make themselves the path of least resistance by putting up artificial barriers (pharma, spyware companies, acquisitions of competitors, etc). Yuck.

Be nice.