Easy Is Difficult

Methods behind decent products or services tend to be complicated. Expertise, innovation and development create new processes and approaches worth buying.

That doesn’t mean that communications about a product or service should be difficult to understand. A marketer’s job is to make it easy for people to understand products and services. In fact, the value of x should be obvious.

Yet, when we consider complex offerings created by ourselves and our companies, we struggle to find that simplicity. In fact, we are insulted by simplistic descriptions, as if they devalue the weeks, months and years invested into creating our effort.

Don’t fool youself.

In the attention economy no one has time for you to explain things. People cannot afford to invest weeks, days or even an hour learning about your effort. Outreach must be obvious and factual, clearly communicating the outcome that people will receive.

Easy extends beyond the marketing. An easy message coupled with a difficult product or services equals a dissapointed customer.

Ideally, the product is easy to use. One thing I love about Fuelband is how a technology that involves several complex elements is so easy to use. It’s well explained. Fuelband is obvious to me, and doesn’t waste my time with why the technology works. I really don’t care. It just does. That makes it easy.

How many things do you buy that are hard to understand?

Easy to understand, easy to use may seem trite and obvious. Yet, so few companies and communicators achieve this goal. Easy is difficult.

What do you think?

Image by Brettm8.

Help People Understand

Smart Has the Brains

“I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.” David Ogilvy

If there’s one consistent mistake I’ve made over the years, it’s trying to be too smart.

How does “great” thought or complicated writing help anyone if they can’t understand it?

See, I believe in original thought, and want to make marketing and communications a better profession. I told Valeria Maltoni years ago that I can help businesses and nonprofits become better global citizens by improving communications.

Unless my concepts and ideas are too complicated for the general practitioner.
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Death by Silo

Mad Men has to be my favorite TV show of the past decade, paying homing to the ad agency business in its formative years. It highlights the importance of great creative, ideas and writing that speak to customers while giving us stories about these neurotic chaps on Madison Avenue. Great well communicated ideas speak simply and drive home their point.

Hugh McLeod agreed to do a Gaping Void cartoon interpretation of Marketing in the Round. Here’s what he drew. It’s so strong, I couldn’t write a 500 word blog post to it. The creative spoke for itself. But in the spirit of Mad Men I did riff on it and wrote some brief ad copy.

Death by Silo

An uncoordinated marketing campaign launch wastes valuable resources. Communicators must integrate across silos to develop strategic multichannel marketing programs. That’s why we wrote Marketing in the Round. Learn more today.

What do you think of Hugh’s Marketing in the Round cartoon?

Proud to Be Simple

The Beauty of a Rose

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated,” Confucius.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat,” Sun Tzu.

“Do nothing which is of no use,” Miyamoto Musashi.

“Simple is not easy,” Dan Heath.

Yesterday’s post on the four types social media strategy sparked a great Facebook debate about what is strategy. Some said social media is not a strategy, it’s a tactic, and others (like me) disagreed. In reality, it’s none of the above. You can have strategy with social media, with integrated communications, or with just traditional communications.

The definition of strategy remains simple. Citing the Oxford Dictionary, “A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.” We as communicators overcomplicate the conversation about plans to get from A to B with discussions about tactics.

It’s no coincidence that many communications strategies — with or without social media — are often really justifications for existence or just tactics in disguise. Other plans have an overabundance of tactics in them so organizations can play with the latest shiny object. These “strategies” forsake their purpose, a plan to achieve an objective.

The simpler a plan is the more elegant it becomes in my eye. The best strategies are the ones that clearly win with the least amount of resource expenditure.

Consider the name of social media darling Charity: Water. Need not say more.

Successful simplicity requires a deft hand. It is the mark of the truly experienced craftsman. People should be proud to be simple.

The above is draft material for my next book, Welcome to the Fifth Estate (the follow up to Now Is Gone, which is almost out of print). Comments may be used in the final edition. You can download the first drafted chapter of the new edition — Welcome to the Fifth Estate — for free.