World renowned advertising agency M&C Saatchi has a moto that I really like ‘Brutal Simplicity’ – according to joint CEO Carrie Hindmarsh in a recent article in ‘The Marketer’ this means; “Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff, working out the single most compelling message and saying only that”.
Apples ‘Think Different’ campaign exemplified this masterfully
There is clearly an art to simplicity and in my view it’s one of those relatively rare traits that all the best marketers have - the ability to say much with little.
I give my team a task each month to put together a PowerPoint presentation of scanned competitor ads and together we critique them in order to learn from them. Without fail the best ads are always the simplest.
The question is, how do you reach the point of ‘brutal simplicity’? Here are my top 3 tips:
1. Become a master of the product or service that you market
In order to be able to simplify your message you first have to understand the complexity of your product, in order to aptly convey it in the simplest terms.
Question; if a marketer is not 100% sure of what their product does and how it does it (in more than just general terms) how can he or she expect to market it successfully? And yet often this is the case.
All too often marketers lack understanding of the products and services that they market and this is reflected in the standard of the marketing they produce. Copy is often full of Jargon, sweeping claims and generic creative. Joe blogs could probably tell you more about a product than the person that has been tasked with marketing it, and then there is a wonder why marketers lack credibility in some circles.
Marketers need to work closer not only with sales, as is commonly spouted, but also with their techies and product departments. No matter how complex a product is, it is a marketers job to get to grips with its complexities in order to market it successfully.
2. Think differently
As an in-house copy writer for quite a few years I know how easy it is to fall into the habit of writing about the same set of features and benefits, in the same way, using the same jargon. Sometimes this is just sheer laziness and other times, time pressures stifle creativity and this is just the easiest option. I challenge all marketers to avoid this rut, change your perspective, think of ways that you can convey your message in a different way, a simpler way.
3. Consider your product from your customers perspective
Quite simply, what is the one thing that customers really want that your product or service can deliver? Say this as succinctly as possible. As Michael Porter says; being the best is over rated it’s about being unique:
Managers who think there is one best company and one best set of processes set themselves up for destructive competition. “The worst error is to compete with your competition on the same things,” Porter said. “That only leads to escalation, which leads to lower prices or higher costs unless the competitor is inept.” Companies should strive to be unique, he added. Managers should be asking, “How can you deliver a unique value to meet an important set of needs for an important set of customers?” (Knowledge Wharton).
I’ll leave you with a few great examples from an article entitled ‘26 Brilliant Minimalist Print ads’ that demonstrate clearly that ‘master marketers master simplicity’.