Does having so much information and so many choices actually make it harder to make a purchase decision?

We can scour the web for countless reviews, product details, FAQs on performance. The “long tail” ensures that there are products for a near infinite variety for any given type of product or service. Finding our absolute ideal offering for us is now an impossibly daunting task.

When less information was available and more difficult to get, we were actually more willing to research. Take a look at a few different car models. Do some test drives. Look for the discounts in the newspaper or TV. Ask around for recommendations.

But with unlimited data points, it’s far too overwhelming. Now, there are hundreds of different models available. Test driving all of the ones we’d be interested in would be a full time job. Your local car dealership and the classifieds aren’t the only places where you can buy your car now. You can buy used and new cars online at numerous sites. You can also find thousands and thousands of reviews from all sorts of sites specializing in cars, as well as from regular owners.

It’s too much to process adequately.

So we satisfice, which is to say we do a limited search and then pick the first alternative that meets our needs. It’s not the absolute best alternative. If we searched more, we’d probably find something at least a little better, cheaper, or of higher quality. But it’s good enough. And our time is more valuable than finding something with marginally incremental benefits.

So if that’s true, how important is developing a clear competitive advantage anymore? If it doesn’t really matter if you’re better, you just need to be good enough and get to the person first.

How does that change our marketing strategies and tactics? What does it mean for our brand?

It’s not that being better is worthless. Companies should still strive to deliver the best product to their customers. It just means that it’s not enough to simply be better. You need to be ubiquitous. When people think about your product category for any reason, they need to think about you. And a rational competitive advantage argument will not endear that sort of connection.

This is why social media and content marketing and a host of other marketing activities, that may not have direct ROI, are essential. To be ubiquitous, you need to be out there. You need to be consistently communicating. You need to show what you stand for.