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Streamlining

Based on the principle that 2/3 of all effort we make is mental effort (The Effortless Experience), you can simply reduce the apparent mental effort associated with your offering to make the person adopt it more easily.

Underlying Psychology/Biases

Streamlining is the canonical example of mental effort manipulation. When something seems effortful, it is. And when it seems like it isn’t, then it isn’t. You are literally changing that mental effort.

Sub-Techniques

There are usually five key ways to streamline an offering:

  • Use wording that makes it seem less effortful
    • “This product is fast/quick/simple to use”;
    • “Gain instant access”;
  • Structuring the process
    • Making the process a defined number of steps;
    • “I have 3 key things to talk about with you today”;
    • “There’s 2 easy steps to join”;
    • Same principle as for illustrating progress;
  • Reducing uncertainty
    • Many people don’t buy/do something because they’re unsure of the details;
      • How do I buy?
      • How long is this available?
    • Addressing those doubts (e.g., with an FAQ) will streamline the process;
    • As will reducing the person’s risk, for example, with risk reversal measures (e.g. money-back guarantee);
  • Concentrating your value proposition
    • Having one quality product is better than having one quality product with mediocre bonuses;
    • The person will think that one is simple and good, while the second is confusing and mediocre;
    • People average the package value down;
    • So, to make it seem less effortful, concentrate your offering;
    • There is one exception to this rule, which is to add bonuses in the moment to convince emotional people;
  • Reducing the amount of options you have
    • The smaller your range of offerings, the more easily the person buys;
    • Too many options create analysis paralysis;
    • Paradox of choice. Stand with 6 jams versus stand with 24;

Examples

  • Software signups
    • Whenever you sign up for a software product, you will see expressions such as “fast and simple to use” or “instant access”;
  • “Three main things”
    • Steve Jobs was excellent at structuring every single presentation;
    • It was easy to understand because, instead of a list of unlimited topics, you have 2 defined ones (or 3, or whatever the specific number);
  • Simplistic scalability
    • Coined by the EDGE Foundation team;
    • The simpler something is, the easier it spreads. Even when, more than simple, it’s actually simplistic;
    • The reason why fake news or extremism propagates so easily;
      • True news has to be verified. It’s hard, and many times is complex to understand;
      • Fake news and extremism are so simple to understand, there is no mental effort. They can just spread;
  • FAQs
    • FAQs do nothing more than preempt the usual roadblocks and answer them, reducing uncertainty;
  • Risk reversals
    • Reducing the person’s risk, for example with a money-back guarantee, helps reduce uncertainty and convince them to buy;
  • Implementation guides
    • When a product is complex and requires installation and configuration, manuals exist precisely to reduce friction and convince the person;

Commercial/Known Uses

Key Takeaways

  • Mental effort is 2/3 of the total effort we make towards something. This means that if you change the mental effort associated with something, you change how much people end up doing it;
  • Streamlining is nothing more than the process of reducing the mental effort associated with your offering to make it more attractive;
    • Out of the different types, reducing uncertainty is important. By preempting the problems the person may have and already having an answer to them, the ask seems simpler and less effortful to do;
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