The Presentation Mistake You Dont Know Youre Making – Heidi Grant Halvorson reports a fascinating phenomenon that is counter-intuitive when marketing and making presentations.  It seems that more is not necessarily better if it brings down the average.  Heidi reports the following research findings:

Psychologists Kimberlee Weaver, Stephen Garcia, and Norbert Schwarz recently illustrated the Presenter’s Paradox in an elegant series of studies. For example, they showed that when buyers were presented with an iPod Touch package that contained either an iPod, cover, and one free song download, or just an iPod and cover, they were willing to pay an average of $177 for the package with the download, and $242 for the one without the download. So the addition of the low-value free song download brought down the perceived value of the package by a whopping $65! Perhaps most troubling, when a second set of participants were asked to play the role of marketer and choose which of the two packages they thought would be more attractive to buyers, 92% of them chose the package with the free download.

So when marketing or making a presentation, bear in mind that the audience will perceive the average value of the offerings — not the sum of the value of the offerings.  For me, this is so counter-intuitive.  I can’t even think of the times that I have made this mistake.  And it is going to be a hard habit to break.  But with the knowledge of this phenomenon, at least I will be warned.

I first came across Heidi’s work when she wrote “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently” also on the Harvard Business Review.  I was impressed with her work then and continue to be impressed with her contributions.  For more information, please see www.heidigranthalvorson.com.