Business December 18, 2018 Last updated December 26th, 2018 256 Reads share

In Marketing, Simplicity Sells

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As a marketer, you’re constantly inundated with new tips, strategies, and hacks. And while the temptation may be to implement as many of them as possible, this isn’t necessarily the ideal approach. In marketing – as in other areas of life – simplicity is often best.

Keep it Simple, Stupid

You’ve likely heard the KISS acronym before, which stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” But are you aware of its origins?

The KISS acronym is believed to have been coined by Kelly Johnson, lead engineer at Lockheed Skunk Works (which created the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes). The principle is most clearly explained by relaying the story of when Johnson gave his team of design engineers a handful of tools and challenged them to create a jet aircraft that could be repaired by an average mechanic in the field under rigorous combat conditions using nothing more than those tools. In other words, the sophistication of the design would need to be found in its simplicity.

Since that time, the KISS principle has been used in multiple branches of the military, professional athletics, and business – particularly in design-related fields.

The problem is that industries like digital marketing have evolved at such a rapid pace that pure simplicity seems impossible to achieve. There’s social media, website copy, blogging, landing pages, videos, PPC ads, and more to think about. And with all of the different marketing automation tools, plugins, and systems, it’s easy to believe that results are achieved by doing more. But you have to push past this notion!

The truth is that the human brain thrives on simplicity. We naturally turn away from things that aren’t familiar to us, while gravitating towards the things we understand and know. It’s why people like to buy local products, purchase from brands they’ve done business with in the past, or listen to recommendations from friends without doing any further research.

As a marketer, the best way to cut through the noise of the marketplace is to make your message simpler than that of your competitors. By streamlining your approach, you immediately make your brand seem less intimidating and more approachable – something that will pay dividends for years to come.

4 Ways to Simplify Your Marketing

Depending on your current marketing strategy, simplifying things could take a lot of work and effort. But as long as you keep the following pointers in mind, you’ll be just fine.

1. Stop Being So Technical

If your marketing strategy is predicated on delivering a bunch of facts and technical information, you should know that your audience probably isn’t listening.

“The truth is people aren’t drawn to truth, they’re drawn to simplicity,” successful brand strategist Donald Miller says. “Recent research from Harvard suggests that customers don’t necessarily buy the best products, they buy the products that are the easiest to understand and the easiest to purchase.”

Humans fear a world that they can’t control. By deflecting away from technical aspects – even when they’re factual – you can deliver a simple experience that’s more manageable and digestible.

2. Funnel Users Through Your Website

There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of content on your website, but you can’t just vomit it onto the page. You need to take control of the navigation.

“In demanding ever more attention from overloaded consumers, brands ultimately lead them down unnecessarily confusing purchase paths. Creating a more efficient path means minimizing the number of information sources consumers must touch while moving confidently toward a purchase,” Patrick Spenner writes for Harvard Business Review. “The savviest brands achieve this by personalizing the route.”

This page from Pioneer Seeds is a great example. Notice how it does a nice job of consolidating lots of information on Grain Sorghum into four clean, clickable quadrants that don’t overwhelm the end user, while simultaneously providing clear channels for users to access any information they need to make an educated purchase decision. If you have lots of content on your website, a similar approach could do wonders for your engagement and conversion rates.

3. Provide Fewer Choices

In a documentary titled Freedom of Choice, research shows that more choices actually equal fewer sales. When customers have lots of different products or services to choose from, they become overwhelmed and less likely to select any one thing.

This idea is perfectly exemplified in a study of two different store displays. On one table, there were six varieties of jam. On the other, there were 24. While fewer consumers stopped to look at a jam at the display with limited choices, 30 percent of them made purchases. On the contrary, just 3 percent of those stopping at the display with more options actually bought any jam.

Skyline Social provides a good illustration of what this looks like in terms of marketing. Whereas they used to offer five or six different marketing service tiers, they now focus on just two major pricing packages – seen here. By giving prospective clients fewer choices, they’ve seen an uptick in their close rate.

4. Use Practical Language

After all the years you spent writing English papers in school, you may have been led to believe that fancy words and sophisticated writing performs better. This, however, is rarely true. Advanced vocabulary, jargon, and technical terms actually muddy your writing and make it harder to understand. For better results, keep your writing simple, tight, and concise!

Simple Doesn’t Mean Crappy

Don’t confuse the idea of simple marketing with crappy marketing. Simple marketing may take more time and effort than the intricate marketing campaigns and elements you’ve made in the past. The goal isn’t to dumb things down, but rather to make them relatable and perceptive.

As you streamline your approach and seek to develop more efficient means of marketing that engage people on a personal level, remember what the goal of marketing really is: To match your company’s products and services to the people who need and want them.

When you filter your approach through this simple lens, it becomes a bit easier.

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Larry Alton

Larry Alton

Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn

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