Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why Simplicity is the New Marketing Paradigm

New age businesses are pumping out new ideas and knowledge at an unprecedented rate. As our recent marketing assignment for a radically new product would vindicate, the new age chant seems to be - more, better, faster, louder and most importantly simpler (think Twitter).

For marketing and design professionals, simplicity might well be the decade’s greatest differentiator. It’s the timeless power to do more with less. To be heard at all amidst the electronic chaos, let alone be clearly understood, a brand’s marketing communications must refine and talk the essential truth as plainly as possible.

Have you ever noticed how there now seems to be a “time” for every business and technology idea, and when that time comes, the idea springs into the minds of several people simultaneously? The next big thing emerges overnight. From categories like social media networks, niche portals and concepts like trending topics, social buying, to the fancy fonts and the reds and greens to prop up corporate identities. What’s up with that?

With millions and millions of people receiving indistinguishable data and stimuli, should it be any surprise that many have the same epiphanies at about the same time? This phenomenon gives overnight birth to entire industry spaces awash with venture capital and generous seed money. It also paralyzes decision-makers.

Consumer Minds are more Saturated (and Confused) than ever before.

Business information is doubling every three years. That’s about twice as much stuff every 1000 days. And, the web-centric among us are now bombarded with something like a billion different URLs. Researchers tell us there’ll be ten times that many in two years.

Let’s face it; we’re all developing internal defenses to guard against the blight of buzzwords and boilerplate verbiage. The sheer volume of media available and density of communications is making many potential customers indifferent, if not immune to even the most persuasive value propositions.

Stuff all looks and sounds the same. It’s all mission critical. It all improves shareholder value. And it’s all “e-this” and “i-that”. Even the once refreshingly clever names of techie start-ups have become astonishingly analogous.

Our adaptive brains automatically discount the predictable. The vagueness and overkill is bad news for people who need to promote and sell technology products and services. So they throw more up against the wall in fruitless efforts to see what will stick. Case in point is the scam-tainted, overvalued IPL: It was relatively easy for flush new mobile companies to drop millions of dollars for mundane IPL ads, but what will any of them really accomplish?)

Let’s Just Cut to the Chase

The solution is Simplicity. Simplicity is the result of making the intricate clear. It greatly improves the performance of information. The cost of confusion is greater than the task of making things simple. Simplicity reduces advertising and public relations expenditures.

The key to message simplicity is painfully obvious: focus. Selectively exclude messages and media, which matter less, so that attention is given to those that matter most. That’s it. You need read no further. Just as simple a concept as losing weight for cheap: eat less, exercise more. Duh.

Okay, like weight loss and fitness, simplicity is also a great paradox, an absurdity because achieving it is known to be very hard work. Intuitively obvious. Practically difficult. And sometimes, you need a little coaching to provide the requisite inspiration and discipline. So where do you start? I’ll tell you soon.


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