prepare for numbers

Everybody likes numbers. Think of those clickbaity lists or data presented in a nice infographic. Numbers are tangible. If Jay-Z knows what he’s talking about, numbers, as opposed to men and women, don’t lie.

The problem is, not everybody knows how to interpret numbers. Specifically, large numbers are tricky. After all, our capacity for statistical inference is relatively limited, especially if untrained.

Malcolm Gladwell once said: everybody likes numbers; it’s a matter of preparing the reader for them.

When you publish numbers directly connected to using your product, such as the time people will save, the percentage with which their efficiency will increase, the weight they will lose, the number of customers you have, the number of transactions you processed… Gently prepare your leads and customers for the numbers before you bombard them with data.

Build a story around your numbers.

availability cascade

The simpler an idea can be represented, the faster it will spread. Especially true for initially very complex ideas.

Collective beliefs gain popularity precisely because someone straightforwardly translated a particular complex process at some point in time.

Once the idea starts spreading, there is no stopping it. Network effects kick in. In the proverbial blink of an eye, the idea is now everywhere and became a collective belief, almost overnight. This phenomenon is often described as an “availability cascade.”

Fantastic if the idea is factually correct. Dangerous if it isn’t.

Water running down in cascading waterfalls can’t be physically made to flow the other way around. The concept of availability cascade, though, can, in theory, be reverse-engineered.

The easier you make a real-world problem, the bigger the likeliness you can leverage the availability cascade. Whether that problem is a concept that’s tough to grasp, a process that’s hard to guide, or a task that’s tough to perform.

Looking back at heroes who are walking or have walked this earth. Concepts like gravity and relativity are incredibly complex by nature yet have been made easy to understand for a broad audience.

Make things as easy as you possibly can for your customer.

begin peak-end

This morning, I underwent a gastroscopy. I was really looking forward to it. Am I a masochist? I don’t think so. The gastroscopy peaked my interest because it’s often referred to in psychological studies. The doctor was visibly confused with my enthusiasm while scheduling the procedure.

Generally, a gastroscopy is not a pleasant experience. The peak-end rule states that people judge an experience by its peak(s) and how it ends. Meaning, people don’t remember things based on the average of an experience. What sticks is the highs, the lows, especially towards the end.

Interestingly, the peak-end rule can be used to improve both good and (inherently) bad experiences.

Granted, you only get one first impression. Those still matter tremendously. However, whether your product is used once or a service that’s used often, knowing that people overemphasize the end of events, make sure to end on a high note.