Simple Marketing

Why is most communication so complicated, unclear and confusing? I think it is a fear of simplicity.

Marketers often forget a very basic fact that the consumer crave simple not complex. They don’t want choices that make decision making difficult. They aren’t looking for brand relationships. They want an easy path to follow with a well-understood benefit for them. They crave easy and want you to help them buy from you. More is never better. 

A recent study by The Corporate Executive Board helps to make this clear. 

"Decision simplicity was the single most important reason that consumers made purchases, repeated those purchases and even recommended that product to others".

What is decision simplicity?

This makes my teeth hurt

If I give you 23 toothpastes under my brand, that ain’t simple.

If I give you 125 potential combinations for buying a laptop, that ain’t simple.

If I give you 8 different styles of jeans, that ain’t simple too.

Overloaded & Overwhelmed
The consumer has a tsunami of choices. A clever marketer realizes that “having it your way”, isn’t the way.  How often have you gone to a web site to buy something and left because the process was complicated to navigate and the wide array of choices left you confused and overwhelmed? 

Did you get a technical mouthful of megabytes when what you really wanted to know was how many pictures can I take at one time with this digital camera or phone? Did they wow you with information that you don’t get, don’t care about and frankly made saying yes harder?

Why Simple is the new Lever
In an increasingly complex world, brands that figure this out will find new leverage. Whether product or service, you need to help the consumer buy from you- not wow them with stuff that may be important inside your company but doesn’t motivate buying. Three suggestions from the study:

Minimize the number of information sources to help them as they wander toward a purchase

Make sure the sources (testimonials) are credible, clear and relevant

Make the top features that matter to them easy to follow and don’t complicate the decision

Don't jam too many choices in your offering
A real life example of this is the supermarket test. A person puts 24 jars of jam on a table and only 3% purchase. When the selection is reduced to 6 choices, 30% purchased. This is remarkable but not surprising.

When I think about this relative to wine marketing, the idea makes perfect sense to me. The incredibly overly complicated process of buying wine, for most consumers is so overwhelming that it shouldn’t be a surprise that the run in fear away from the wall of wine aisle or a sommelier who scares the Merlot out of them.

Four suggestions to simplify your marketing

Product offering:  If 20% of your products create 80% of your sales, you can actually boast sales by eliminating SKU’s and complexity from your product offering. And you will probably increase profits too as you bring simplicity into your production or back office. 

Message: Are you able to communicate your product benefit in a few words? If not, keep working at it until you can explain your value proposition in an elevator ride between 3 floors. More than that is too complicated. And once you figure it out, say it over and over and over again. Frequency and repetition helps your message breakthrough the clutter. 

What do you do? Does your 85 year old mother (father, aunt, uncle) understand what you sell? Could they tell their friends? This also applies to your 15 year old children. As Denzel Washington says in the movie Philadelphia, "tell it to me like I'm a six year old." Break it down!

Tell me less: Does your website tell consumers things that help them buy from you? (Hint: If you have a picture of your factory, it is a sign you are giving them information that doesn’t matter to them).

I am in no way saying consumers are dumb. In fact, they are so smart that they run away from the overly complicated sales pitch. And, I speak from real world experience having made a living for 14 years selling just one product: a lovely homemade brownie.

You can read the full article that prompted this post by downloading here:  You have to fill out a form and the article is from Harvard Business Review.

If you disagree about my thesis, here is a chart that won't help explain anything. But it is a pretty complicated analysis. 

 Simple is the new simple.

Labels: , , , , ,