Deciding Between Multiple Options Even if They're All Great

I recently took my wife to a new restaurant in town for her birthday, and as we sat, the server gave us the menus. I stared down at the endless rows of food and drink, all of which looked amazing. 

Unfortunately, because I had so many options, it took me quite a while to decide what I wanted.

To be completely honest, I’d rather have a menu with five items than forty. Sometimes I’ll even find something that looks somewhat good and tell myself I’ll choose that if I can’t find something better by the time we order.

Some people assume that having more choices is better, but that’s not always the case.

More Choices Means More Spent Time

Choice is one of the greatest hindrances, and choice has wasted countless hours of our lives. With every option comes a great list of pros and cons, with reasons why we should or shouldn’t choose it.

Sometimes it’s easy to choose between the options. One has the greatest amount of ROI (return on investment), and the other doesn’t seem very good. Those cases of choice are easy to navigate.

Other times it’s not so easy. All of the options might seem great, and so the process of choosing gets dialed down to a microscopic level to find the best one.

Making the choice between multiple “good options” starts by determining your goals first. 

Here’s a three-question evaluation you should use before you decide between several options:

  1. What do I want this to accomplish?
  2. Is there anything I specifically need and won’t compromise on?
  3. How important is this choice for the success of my brand?

Answering these questions will give you a better idea of how much time you need to spend on the decision.

If the decision is incredibly important for the success of your brand, then yes, spend due time on it. Do your research, determine the best solution, and move forward.

But if everything looks like a good option, you need to move forward.

Last Resort? Just Pick One.

The initial question was about choosing between several business opportunities, with a foundation of two years of work to get it off the ground.

If you’ve done your research and you know your brand and your direction, but everything still seems like a good option, it’s better to pick one than to spend valuable time in indecision. 

Besides, if you go to pick one and realize you wish you would have picked one of the other options, go with the other option! 

You have the freedom to choose, but the more time you spend in indecision, the less you’ll actually be moving forward. 

What’s the worst thing that could happen? You work hard for two years, realize it’s not viable, and shift direction? Two years is nothing in the grand scheme of your life, and in that time you’ve learned, you’ve grown, and you’re ready for something new.

But it could also be really amazing. You could use the next two years to build something incredible. Think positive, work hard, and just choose something.

Tips for Graphic Design Students (and Anyone Online…)

Last month I received an email from a graphic design student with some really great questions. 

He specifically mentioned a quote of mine from Behind the Brand e021

"I encourage people not to put, "Hi, my name is Cory, I'm a designer," on their website. Everyone is a designer. Don't put that on your website." 

He mentioned that that caught him off guard, because he was going to do just that!

But his primary question I want to get to was:

“How should I welcome my readers if I don't have that promise to make about what specifics I am going to do for the people who visit?”

There are a few things to remember when designing your brand website, specifically when it comes to your introduction.

Your Website Is Not About You

First, you need to remember that your website is not for you. I know, this might seem weird, but it’s true. 

Your website is all about the people you are trying to attract. Your website is about your audience and your customers.

The problem with saying, “Hi, my name is [Insert Name Here], and I’m a designer” is that nobody cares yet. 

I regularly go to websites where I don’t care about the tiny bio at the top because they haven’t given me a reason to care yet.

If you want me to hire you, you need to show me how you're going to solve my problem. If you want me to care about your product, you need to quickly explain in a few words how you are going to make my life better. Put it front and center.

The exception to this “rule” is if you deliver a promise within your introduction. 

My good friend and co-host Kyle Adams is a great example of this on his website. Instead of “Hi, I’m Kyle Adams. I’m a designer”, he has a big header that says: “Quality Icons That Speak Volumes”. 

Immediately I have an idea of what I can get from Kyle. This main header is followed by, “I'm Kyle Adams, an icon designer with a passion to help brands communicate to their audience.”

Much more power there than “I’m a designer.”

Give value quickly. People get bored.

If you don’t have any kind of promise, then get your content front and center. You need to start building trust immediately. If all you have is a blog, make that content right there so they can get value immediately. Always provide value first.

I’m not kidding when I say this:

If your website takes longer than 5 or 6 seconds to understand, you’re losing leads and you’re losing sales.

Your website needs clarity, not fancy or trendy words that nobody but you understands. People will get bored and move on.

If I go to your website and it says, “Hi, this is me, me me me, I’m me! Hire me!” I’m going to close the tab. Immediately. 

Speak to the problems and stories of your customers in the first few seconds, which will invite them into the rest of what you have to offer. 

Be honest and transparent about where you’re at. Don’t promise something you can’t deliver, and don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Be yourself, and grow as you grow.

  • Determine the purpose of your website. Is it to attract clients? Is it to deliver valuable content to people who want to learn how you do what you do? What is the point?

  • Develop a personal promise that you want to deliver through your site and your work.

  • Think about what you want your audience to see first and make that the front and center of your home page.

  • Don’t just say, “I’m a designer”. Find a niche. Explore in deep. Literally anyone can say, “I’m a designer”, so don’t blend in!

Marketing and Selling Your Product Without Feeling Like You’re Ripping Someone Off

One of the biggest struggles with selling nice to have products is feeling like you might be ripping someone off. If it doesn’t solve a problem, why should someone have to pay a lot of money to get it?

You struggle with knowing the value of your own product because you don’t know how to determine its value. You aren’t sure of the value of your own product, so you don’t know how to sell it.

You don’t want to come across as a salesman. You don’t want to appear needy or desperate. But you also want to actually make money. The purpose of business is to make money.

Do you want to know how to determine the value of your product? I’ll tell you where to start.

You don’t.

You are not the one who determines the value of your product.

The value of something is determined by the customer. You can determine the price, but only the customer can decide if it is worth exchanging currency for.

The moment that someone pays for an item the very first time is the moment the value has truly been set.

The value of something is determined by the amount someone is willing to pay for it.

This is because value is subjective to each person. What I value and what someone in on the other side of the world values could be (and probably are) totally different.

The key to marketing and selling without feeling like you’re ripping someone off is to align the purpose, message, and story of your product to the values of your customer.

Value is Subjective to the Customer

My younger brother Tyler loves to buy really nice clothes. He shops at Men’s Wearhouse almost exclusively, and every time I see him I take a moment to realize I’m dressed like a slob. He always looks good.

He recently mentioned that he’s waiting for a $1,500 suit to go on sale, and with that big sale comes other perks, like buy-one-get-one-free and so on. He’s very excited.

If Tyler buys that $1,500 suit for $300, he has exchanged a set amount of currency for this item, and $300 is the amount he values it at.

Someone else may buy the suit for $1,500, and because they’ve paid that amount for the suit, they will value it at $1,500. They felt the burn of that exchange.

The value of a nice to have product is determined by the amount someone is willing to pay for it, and value is subjective.

Understanding that value is subjective is a good place to start. Value exchange comes next, that is, to figure out what someone would actually pay for what you’re selling.

Researching Your Target Customer is Critical

Last year I backed a product on Kickstarter where I paid around $50 for a smart water bottle. Seems ridiculous, right? I could just drive to a local store and pick up a little knock-off bottle for $2. Why would I pay $50 for a water bottle?

I pay premium for products because of the things I value. It’s not just about having a water bottle, it’s about the benefits that come with this particular product, which includes tracking, reminders, analytics, and so on. Plus it looks really cool.

Those are all things I value. I value my time, I value understanding more about myself, I value high quality, and so I am willing to pay more for a product that offers those things.

It’s very important to understand what your audience values in their lives. Some people value a high quality product over a cheaply produced one, and other value a deal or a savings. Research is important, so don’t skip over this.

Pricing Doesn’t Have To Be Scary

I want to share some of the early stages to pricing your product, and while this list is not exhaustive, it will get you on the right track.

1. Cover your base costs.

You have to start at the place where the sale of your product will allow you to stay in business. If the item costs $5 to produce, that doesn’t mean you should only sell it for $5, because there’s plenty of other costs that go into running a business:

  • Paying the bills to “keep the lights on”.
  • Employee salaries.
  • Taxes.
  • Packaging and design.
  • etc…

You’re not ripping someone off if you set the price of your product to a higher number than what you paid out to create it. This is how businesses stay in business!

2. Allow yourself a buffer.

This isn’t mandatory, but I recommend adding a few percent on top of your base costs in the event that production costs go up or something else unexpected happens.

3. Figure out what your audience values.

Evaluate what someone in your target audience would pay for it. You are the one who determines the price of your product, but your audience is the one who decides if it’s worth the cost or not.

This is why research is so valuable. Not just into competitive products, but also into whatyour customers value.

4. Price based on your target customer, not on the competition.

The easiest way to figure out what you should be charging for your product is to look at others selling similar things and price in that range. It’s also the most foolish way.

If your product meets everything your target customers value, and it’s actually providing value, you don’t need to look at the competition because it won’t matter.

People will pay more for products that align with their values than for a cheaper item that doesn’t. This is how premium brands stay in business, because they’re not just selling “yet another one of those things”, they are selling a story.

Competition is good, and analyzing your industry is fine, but if you position yourself correctly, you can easily be the go-to brand for what you’re selling.

This is how Audi can sell a car for $70,000, because they know their target customers value the appearance of luxury and a vehicle that stands apart from the rest. The car isn’t that different, but the symbol and status it provides aligns with the values of the customer.

Don’t Undervalue Yourself or Your Product

I see a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs trying to adhere to the status quo and woefully undercutting themselves. They aren’t able to stay afloat because they’re trying to compete with Amazon or Taylor Swift or Microsoft or other huge brands.

Just because you don’t have a billion-dollar marketing budget doesn’t mean what you are selling is not valuable to your customer.

I know very successful brands selling custom-designed t-shirts for $30, when I know for a fact that their per-item production cost was less than $15.

This is not arbitrary inflation: smart businesses know their audience values certain things and are willing to pay premium for it.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if some people say your product isn’t worth what you’re charging for it. What matters is that the people who buy it believe it is worth what they paid.

If you understand what your target customer values and you can craft a story around your product that connects with their values, you’ll never feel like you’re ripping anybody off.

Brand, Market, and Sell Your “Nice To Have”

If you’re finding yourself still lost in the world of branding, marketing, and selling your nice to have product or service, I’m writing a book that will help you.

The book is called Nice To Have, and I’m in the writing process right now, with a launch date to be announced. Nice To Have is designed and written to help you navigate your industry, find the value in the product or service you provide, and fashion a story that resonates with your future customers.

Learn More At

Not Sure How to Make People Care About Your Product?

“Why should anybody care about this thing that I’ve made? Why should anybody give me money for what I’m selling?”

Have you ever asked these questions? They’re a lot more common than you might think.

Shoving something in someone’s face and saying, “Hey, look at this thing I’ve made, please buy it!” doesn’t actually work very well.

It’s the reason why banner ads have lost traction over the last few years. People are tired of having things shoved in their face without their permission, and it’s not a very compelling way to reach your audience.

Getting someone to care can seem very difficult, but it’s actually a very simple formula.

People aren’t going to care about you until you prove that you care about them.

They want to know what you’re going to do for them, not what you’re going to sell them.

This is why story is important in the world of nice to haves.

Create a Story That Is Relevant

It’s not just about telling a story. You have to tell a story that matters to the person who’s reading it.

The story has to be engaging, it has to resonate, and it has to be something that promises to deliver an end result.

If your product doesn’t solve a problem, you need to start by asking the following question:

“Why would somebody buy my product?”

You don’t get a free pass here by saying you don’t know. You need to dig deep and really ask yourself why someone would buy what you’ve made.

Why would someone hire you? Why would someone sign up for your service? Why should someone hand over their hard-earned money for this thing that you’ve made?

If you make T-shirts, someone might want to buy it because they want a new cool T-shirt that expresses their personality. If you’re selling an iPhone case, someone might want to buy it because it is more durable than the competitor.

Start with the small reasons, and then explore from there.

Speak Into the Stories of Your Customers

Once you’ve determined the benefits of your product, the next step is to focus on the end customer. By this point, you should have already determined who your target audience is.

How will it make their life better? What can they use it for? Why should they choose you over someone else doing something similar?

Answering these questions will help you build a foundation so you can speak directly to the people who will eventually become your customers.

Have you ever noticed that your favorite clothes store doesn’t just display the clothing? They show pictures of some muscly guy on a beach wearing the shorts you were eyeing, or a girl driving a really expensive car wearing that outfit you had in mind.

These pictures aren’t for show and tell. They are quietly making you a promise.

  • “Buy these shorts, and you’ll be the coolest guy on the beach.”
  • “Wear this outfit, and you’ll look like someone living in luxury.”
  • “Own this smart phone, and stand out from everyone else around you.”
  • “Drink this espresso and become the embodiment of culture and sophistication.”

These brands are subtly making a promise, and they’re using story to help their customers believe that promise.

Story is more than telling people what they’re buying. Story is about telling people how their lives will improve because of what they’re buying.

Brand, Market, and Sell Your “Nice To Have”

If you’re finding yourself still lost in the world of branding, marketing, and selling your nice to have product or service, I’m writing a book that will help you.

The book is called Nice To Have, and I’m in the writing process right now, with a launch date to be announced. Nice To Have is designed and written to help you navigate your industry, find the value in the product or service you provide, and fashion a story that resonates with your future customers.

Learn More At

Validating Your Nice to Have Product

So you have an idea. So what? An idea means nothing.

If you’re trying to sell something, you have to have someone who wants to buy what you’re selling.

The greatest idea in the world is only great if someone wants to see it become reality.

There are a lot of businesses out there that have failed because they created a product that many considered nice to have, only to realize that nobody really wanted the product in the first place.

Research is critical. Make sure you do enough research to account for the weeks, months, and years of hard work you have ahead.

Here are three ways to validate your idea:

1. Get Enough People Asking for It

“When is this available for sale?”

I love this question. It’s asked by someone who is primed and ready to buy.

This was something I failed at with my clothing line. I didn’t spend enough time showing designs and getting people excited.

I thought that I could just make things I liked and people would want to buy them. That works sometimes, but it’s rare.

Purchasing a nice-to-have product usually requires more thought and feeling than something that solves a problem.

Impulse purchases happen, sure, but the more time you give someone to love the idea, the better chance you have of them becoming a customer.

Concepts, works-in-progress, and even mockups can be ways to get people excited. Use caution with mockups, though, because people will expect exactly what they see.

Create a landing page and tell people all about it. Start building your mailing list if you haven’t already.

Search through social media, online forums, and public exchanges. Is there something that people keep asking for that you can provide?

Ask your audience questions. Ask lots of questions. I’ve received a lot of emails about the book I’m writing called Nice To Have, and it’s very clear to me that many of my audience members really want this book.

2. Find an Existing Market

Entering a market or niche that doesn’t have any competition might seem like a good idea, but usually it’s an indicator of a market that doesn’t exist. People don’t buy what they don’t think they want.

Find a market that already exists and create something better than what is currently offered.

The bonus of this method is that someone else has already done the upfront research! Obviously you’ll need to do your own study, but this can be a great start.

My friend Joe Allen recently released a fantastic app called Soundboard Studio. A soundboard app isn’t anything new, but he knew he could make it better, so he did.

Don’t be scared by competitors: competition is a good thing! It means that there are people out there who are willing to pay for something like this.

3. Directly Ask Someone to Buy Right Now

There’s nothing that validates an idea more than someone handing you their hard-earned cash.

This isn’t about investing, by the way. That’s a completely different subject. This is one of your target customers giving you money for something you haven’t made yet.

Someone telling you that they’d love to buy your product doesn’t mean they will actually buy it.

Let me say it again: just because someone told you that they would buy whatever it is that you’re making doesn’t mean they will definitely buy it.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me they wanted to buy what I had to sell, but then when it came time for the launch, they were nowhere to be found.

Words are cheap. Anyone will tell you they’ll buy what you’re selling, but you can’t call them a customer until the money is in the bank.

I’m serious: the next time you’re talking about the product you’re developing and they say they’d love to buy it when it’s released, ask them to buy it right now.

Some people do this in the form of a pre-order, where they have the full landing and sales page online and then ask for the sale at the end. Just be prepared that if only one person buys, you still need to create your product and honor that customer.

10% of Interested People Will Buy

Always estimate that less than 10% of people who say they will buy will actually end up buying something. If 100 people say they’re going to buy, expect 10 of those people to follow through.

That means if you want 100 sales, you need to get 1,000 people to say they’ll buy.

Yes, that means you need to hustle and work hard. You need to get people interested. Tell a story, show them how this product enhances their story, and get them excited.

One more thing: don’t move forward on your idea until it’s validated. Don’t waste your time hoping for sales — work on getting people excited to give you their money.

Brand, Market, and Sell Your “Nice To Have”

If you’re finding yourself still lost in the world of branding, marketing, and selling your nice to have product or service, I’m writing a book that will help you.

The book is called Nice To Have, and I’m in the writing process right now, with a launch date to be announced. Nice To Have is designed and written to help you navigate your industry, find the value in the product or service you provide, and fashion a story that resonates with your future customers.

Learn More At

The Value of Nice to Haves

I get this question a lot: “What if what I’m selling doesn’t really solve a problem?”

Business is simple: find a problem, solve the problem, and sell the solution to the people who have the problem.

Easy, right? There are plenty of problems to solve in the world, so this should be pretty simple.

But what if what you do or what you offer doesn’t really solve a problem?

People like to create a category called “nice to haves” and end up tossing a lot of things in that imaginary box, saying that since you don’t need to have it, it’s not as important in life.

Even if your product or service doesn’t solve a direct problem, it may be solving an indirect problem.

A new apparel line isn’t really solving new problems. You can buy a plain white t-shirt down at your local thrift store for a dollar, so why spend $30 on a t-shirt with a custom design printed on it? There’s a reason people do. I’ll get to that in a bit.

The problem with dismissing something as a “nice to have” is that it negates the fact that most things that are nice to have play an important role in society and culture.

Is Coffee a “Need to Have”?

Something I’ve learned in my travels is that there are a number of things you’ll find in every culture: at the top are fashion, food, and coffee.

Coffee is a huge deal. The worldwide coffee industry is estimated to be over $100 billion, and it’s estimated that 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world every year.

That’s a lot of espresso.

Some would argue that they need coffee to get through their day, but if tomorrow all of the coffee in the world was gone and everyone went through a few weeks of withdrawals, the world would continue on.

People want coffee. They don’t need coffee.

Do you see the difference? It’s not a matter of what people need — branding, marketing, and selling a nice to have is about determining what people want.

We Buy the Things We Want

Consider art, beauty, music, or personal memories. Do these things tangibly solve problems?

We buy paintings because of how they make us feel. We buy new clothes and makeup and hairstyling gel because of how it allows us to express ourselves. We pay for music streaming services because of the way music resonates with us.

Desire. Feelings. These are the driving forces behind most of our purchases in the 21st century.

You can make a living by selling something that someone would classify as a “nice to have”, because as long as you’ve done your research, there’s probably someone out there that resonates with what you’re creating.

Evaluate your “nice to have” with these questions:

  • Am I making something that I want to exist, or am I making something that people are asking for?
  • How does this make someone’s life better?
  • How are people missing out by not having it?

In the coming weeks, I’ll show you how to validate your idea, craft an irresistible story, and create a marketing strategy to catch the attention of your target audience.

Brand, Market, and Sell Your “Nice To Have”

If you’re finding yourself still lost in the world of branding, marketing, and selling your nice to have product or service, I’m writing a book that will help you.

The book is called Nice To Have, and I’m in the writing process right now, with a launch date to be announced. Nice To Have is designed and written to help you navigate your industry, find the value in the product or service you provide, and fashion a story that resonates with your future customers.

Learn More At