The plight (and the pox) of the undecided

After Tuesday’s debate, one study of undecided voters showed that 35% of them considered the outcome of the debate a tie.

A tie?

I can imagine believing that Obama won. I can concede that some people thought McCain won. But a tie? How could a rational person call it a tie?

Of course, they didn’t really mean it was a tie. Just like the prospects who don’t buy your stuff but don’t say no aren’t really in search of more information so they can make a considered decision.

Here’s the formula of what’s really happening:

Fear of making a decision > Benefit of making a decision.

And that, for marketers, is the pox of the undecided. We think that people are undecided because they don’t know enough about our features or our competitors, or because they don’t have enough money or they are waiting to hear from their friends. In fact, most of the time, they’re undecided because they are afraid of deciding. No is scary and yes is scary.

The reason that so many people don’t vote is the same as the reason that so many people walk past your store every day or click past your site every day. Because inertia is compelling. Inertia absolves them of responsibility.

Forewarned is forearmed. Now that you know that your competition is called inertia, you can sell against it more effectively. A ticking clock is a marketer’s best friend. A no is better than a maybe, any day. At least you can learn from a no.