The Messy Closet Theory: Imagine that every piece of clothing in your house was dumped unceremoniously into a single closet, with no rhyme or reason. Every morning before leaving the house, you have to sort through a random collection of the clothing owned by everybody in your house. Trying to find a specific piece of clothing becomes a ridiculous chore. On the other hand, a well-organized closet makes it a breeze to find what you’re looking for. Organization immediately makes it apparent what you have, what you need, and what goes together.

Last year when I started to do more keynote speaking at various conferences, I introduced a concept called The Messy Closet Theory.

The concept was originally created to show how various subscription, membership, paywall sites (whatever you want to call them) focused almost exclusively on the content they were delivering, and how to deliver more and more of it – usually in an effort to curb attrition.

I argued that this was done at the cost of taking care of current customer needs in addition to focusing on far more profitable endeavours like customer relationship building.

As I continue to work with businesses both big and small I’ve come to realize that the messy closet theory spreads far beyond online entities and my original thinking. It’s really about doing less, not more.

There are two primary reasons that businesses insist they need more content.” More selection, more information, more services offered, more stuff.. (TIP: In your own business consider “content” whatever it is you offer in exchange for money…)

1. They believe that their customers already know all about their current offerings, and simply decide not to purchase them;


2. They think a larger selection, or more content, will make them more appealing to new customers.

The second reason is why most organizations focus on continually adding to the closet.  Are you continuously adding to the closet in hopes of attracting new customers?

Instead of throwing more stuff in the closet, consider how you can clean things up for your existing customers.

For other messy closets, ask yourself:

  • How can we tidy up and make the experience more enjoyable?
  • How can we make our website easier to navigate?
  • How can we make calling our customer support line a better experience?
  • How can add more value without adding more stuff? 

Here’s the most important part…More often than not, the customer experience is far more important than the product itself.