Maximizer or Satisficer: Does it Make a Difference?

Remember when mom, dad, or maybe grandpa would espouse their philosophy about people, starting with something like this, “Ya know, there are two kinds of people in this world…” and then they’d give you their broad take on the human race? I’m here to add another grouping of two to the human race: maximizers and satisficers.

In the book “Welcome to Your Brain,” the
authors describe maximizers as people who “spend a lot of time worrying about differences, no matter how small. In a consumer society with choices everywhere, maximizers suffer from an inability to recognize when an alternative is good enough. Indeed, from an economic perspective, spending the additional time on maximization doesn’t make sense since your time itself has some monetary value.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have satisficers who are described as individuals who “look until they find something good enough, then stop. Satisficers are decisive, don’t look back, and have little regret, even about mistakes.”
So what does this have to persuasion? Plenty, because in an information overloaded society in which some experts estimate the average person sees more than 3,000 marketing messages a day we cannot possibly process all the information that comes to us through our five senses. And put on top of that the fact that so
much can change in a single day, sometimes it’s all we can do to not just cover our ears, close our eyes and start screaming.
For example; I can’t process all the features of all the smart phones and balance them with all the pricing options while weighing all the new features and options I hear might come out in the next few months. TMI – too much information! Therefore, if I’m like most people I will “satisfice.” Satisficing refers to “the act of choosing an alternative that is just sufficient to satisfy a goal.” I do it, I bet you do it and so do most other people.
Dr. Cialdini’s six principles of influence act as mental short cuts, decision triggers if you will, in an information overloaded society because they help us quickly process information in a way that allows us to make a quicker decisions that we’re satisfied with. Here are some quick examples related to buying a smart phone.
Liking – A good friend of yours owns the phone you’re considering and has nothing but good things to say. He encourages you to buy the same phone and you trust his opinion because you have the same tastes in a lot of things.
Reciprocity – When you were comparing phones and asking questions the store clerk spent a lot of time with you. You’d feel kind of bad not buying from him after he did all that for you.
Authority – You read Consumer Reports and it rated one phone you’re considering highest in three of four categories. The magazine is the most reputable, unbiased source you know.
Consensus – Everyone has the brand you’re looking at and people are raving about it. They can’t all be wrong.
Consistency – When you told the salesperson the general features you were looking for she pointed you to a phone that had almost every single one. How can you not buy it after you
said that’s what you wanted in a phone?
Scarcity – You’re shown a phone and told a newer model is coming out in a few months. Now you worry because you might not be able to get this one at the low price because everyone else will buy them up while it’s still a great deal.
As noted earlier, most people engage in satisficing but that still leaves the maximizers so how do we deal with them? Maximizers by nature are probably more analytical so my advice would be to concentrate on these principles of influence:
Authority – Let them know what the experts are saying and show them hard data because this appeals to their strength – logic.
Consistency – Get them to tell you in detail what they want. The more detail the better because if you can show them how your offering matches up then it’s only logical for the deep thinker to go with your request.
Scarcity – No one likes to lose so show them their lost dollars, time, and opportunity by not going with your recommendation relatively soon. Remind them that new features and upgrades will always come out but they’re losing the opportunity to enjoy your product in the meantime.
So whether your mom, dad, or grandpa were right about their two tier classification systems, science tells us there’s at least one other category, maximizers and satisficers. It would do you well to not only understand which category you fall into but which category those you’re trying to persuade fall into because it will make the persuasion process much easier.
Brian, CMCT 
Helping You Learn to Hear
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