Stupidly Simple

Simple declarative statements communicate most effectively.

Kinda like the one above.

Marketing messages need to be simple, yet marketing “pros” routinely make them complicated. Nowhere is the situation worse than in tech marketing. Perhaps lingering “feeds and speeds” mindsets pervert messaging. Or worse yet, maybe marketing types are budding authors who use marcom materials to practice their literary skills (there is a novel in every marketing director, which is a damn good place to keep it). Weak marketers rely on buzz words when copywriting skills and product differentiation do not exist.

Even I suffer from an alienating allegiance to alliteration.

Complexity sucks, and sucks the life out of messaging. People don’t have time to think, and forcing them into unsupervised thinking is dangerous. Keeping messages simple, even sparse, leads buyers rapidly to cognition, self-qualification and motivated interest. Slowing them down with needless and distracting verbiage does the opposite. Yet tech marketers love to ramble, spewing endless product prose without delivering the essential information:

  • What do you sell?
  • What is the value?
  • Why I should care?

Think about any PowerPoint torture session you have endured. Most begin with several slides discussing who the company is and why they are great – and none of that is on the three-question-list customers ask. Most landing pages are the same way. Some landing pages fail to communicate any of the three essential items, forcing folks to hunt for links that may (but typically do not) reveal the important info.

Your job, after editing yourself, is to edit any marketing copy created by staff, PR agencies and even your CEO (I once created a keynote for the chairman of Novell. It was a model for clarity and thought leadership. He immediately turned it into unintelligible muck.) To be effective, watch for the major sources of marketing sludge:

  • No value statement, especially missing in headlines
  • Using unnecessary words
  • Substituting massive text for meaningful information
  • Talking about your company and your product, not the customer and his needs
  • All buzzwords and regurgitated phrases (anyone caught saying “market leading” will be sacrificed … Aztec style)

This is marketing, not a presidential debate. We don’t need to fill our allotted time limit. We need to give customers a reason to care and do it quickly before their digital ADD takes over. Keep it simple to avoid being stupid.


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