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What is Occam’s razor?

The term “Occam’s razor” may sound like a limited-edition, old-school shaver. But it has nothing to do with shaving.”

Occam’s razor is a philosophical principle credited to 14th-century English scholar William of Occam. It states: One should not increase, beyond reason, the number of entities required to explain anything.” 

This statement means that the simplest solution is usually the best if all things are equal. This is a rule of thumb, though, and not something guaranteed to work 100% of the time. In some situations, the simplest solution may not be the right thing to do.

Still, Occam’s razor encourages us that when faced with several possible solutions, we ought to choose the simplest one or the one with the fewest assumptions. This principle sees constant use in science, technology, and marketing. 

How to Apply Occam’s Razor in Business and Marketing

Let’s look at several ways to apply Occam’s razor in business and marketing. 

Simplify your online presence.

The easiest way to apply Occam’s razor to your business is to simplify your online presence by having only one website. Some businesses assume they need a new website every time they launch a new brand or service. But having multiple sites is more costly and complicated to build, host, market, and manage.

Focusing your resources on one website instead of multiple websites is the simplest way to maximize your sales and profits from the website. For example, you have $100 to spend on Google ads for your company. Spending the whole amount on one website will be more effective than spending $20 on each of your multiple sites.

Focus on your minimum viable product (MVP).

Another way to apply Occam’s razor is the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP is a technique where a new product or service is launched in the market with just enough features to get your customers’ attention. Before releasing it to the public, you don’t need to wait until your product has all the bells and whistles you eventually want. 

Again, Occam’s razor means the simpler, the better. Releasing an MVP will help you discover what features your customers want and need. You might spend more resources than necessary on features your customers don’t even want. Don’t spend $10,000 on something you can create with $1,000.

Staying simple means fewer mistakes.

When you keep things simple and eliminate unnecessary product features, you also reduce the possibility of mistakes and defects. Think of a watch that tells time versus a watch that tells the time, date, weight, heart rate, today’s weather, and more. The watch that tells time is easier to use and will last you many more years than the watch with dozens of features.

A simple watch might not be as cool or high-tech. But it does its job, and it does its job well. Ten years from now, your time-only watch will still tell time, while the other watch will probably no longer be in use.

Always end with a simple CTA for your customers.

Mcdonald’s created the now-famous “Would you like fries with that?” phrase. By adding this simple sentence to the end of each transaction, they encouraged thousands, maybe millions, of customers to add fries to their orders. In doing so, they could increase each basket size, upsell customers, and add to their profit.

A simple, clear, and consistent call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your social media copy or blog posts can do the same for your business. For example, if you want your social media post to direct traffic to your blog, you can end your post with “To read more about… visit our website.” This simple CTA will nudge your readers to click the link and read your blog.

These are a few examples of applying Occam’s razor to your business. Do you have other ideas for simplifying your product, service, or process to achieve the best outcome? Please share in the comments!

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