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The Economy of Simplicity


In marketing, we have two ways to get people to buy our products; increasing motivation and making things easier.
Historically, we tend to default to motivation since it is what we know best. We create communication that hits an emotional nerve to gain a strong association in the consumers' minds.
When done right, emotional advertising works even without people knowing it. Customers just need to be exposed to an ad for a period of time. Motivation, however, requires willpower, which is hard to maintain. Anybody who has ever gone on a diet knows this all too well. In the morning, you wake up motivated to eat well, but by the afternoon, motivation hits rock bottom, and you eat up three chocolate chip cookies courtesy of a co-worker.
Ease, on the other hand, focuses on giving people the ability and opportunity to take action. We do that by removing barriers or providing the skills to take the desired behavior. Contrary to motivation, ease does not require willpower. Once we removed the barriers (e.g. skills, price, money, physical, mental efforts, and time), people will go for things that are easier to do. It is in our nature.
If we look at where most of the disruption is happening today, it is at ease, not motivation.
Uber makes transportation simple. It does not motivate you to get in a car. To make things easier, Uber has removed price, time, and physical barriers associated with getting a cab. Uber has reduced cab fares by increasing the supply of taxis. The company has drastically decreased the waiting time; you can get an Uber in 3 minutes. Also, it has removed the need to walk a few blocks to get a cab.
Airbnb makes booking a room simple. It does not motivate people to book a room. Airbnb has also removed the price and physical barriers and has challenged the social norms. Like Uber, Airbnb as decreased the price for accommodations by creating a new market supply, homeowners. It has challenged social norms by making it socially acceptable to stay at other people's homes. Also, it removes physical barriers by providing more options.
Consider the success of Amazon, Zappos, and the other leading shopping websites. They make shopping easy and effortless. One-click purchasing outlines this strategy of increasing ability. By making a transaction easy, they have transformed the way we buy things.
You can make similar cases for Netflix, Warby Parker, Github, and Spotify.
In summary, simplicity wins in a complex world. People don’t have the time and don’t want to figure out how things work, so simplicity has become a scarce resource. Motivation, on the other, has become an abundant resource since we have all become publishers and motivators.

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