Warning: Over the last two years you have been convinced that marketing is overly-complicated, exhausting and overwhelming.
Due to the overabundance of fear, and the plethora of marketing options out there and compressed by the pressure marketers have felt to reconnect to an audience they have far fewer opportunities to connect with in person, we see a big trend toward complexity.
Toward making complicated plans involving a variety of modalities designed to explain and persuade.
Marketing is actually simple. It’s rooted in simple ideas. We like to share that marketing is clarity of message, delivered consistently, over time. It’s about thoughtfully sharing a set of ideas over time to an audience you love and appreciate. It’s about beginning conversations, not ending them or spending the entire conversation in persuasion mode.
The way to tame the intricate fictional beast that marketing has become is to remember this simplicity. And embrace it.
We are not fans of complex plans. Why? Because the simple ones work much better.
There are 3 ways to simplify your marketing:
1) Share your root system with the world.
The root system of your brand is your mission, vision and values. Many founders and entrepreneurs have worked to identify these, but don’t necessarily associate them with their marketing plan, let alone weave these ideals into your marketing content. But sharing your root system is a powerful part of being memorable, of starting conversations and expressing something deep and true about the brand. A brand is simply how others experience this root system – internally and externally.
Make your mission, vision and values more prominent on your website and marketing materials. Be sure to share WHY these are important to you and why the audience should care.
2) Reconnect to your ideal audience and relate directly and deeply to them.
Far too often, the idea of audience is used as demographic data to design an ad campaign or determine close rate. Instead think simply of the humans who have helped you build your business and your brand. Who are they? What are their names? (Not the names of a made-up avatar your marketing coach came up with, but the real humans.) Bring them into focus and ask what they have been through recently. How are they doing? What information or inspiration might they be in need of? Focusing on a specific archetype of your ideal client gives direction and depth to all of your marketing efforts. Don’t overthink this. As you create a marketing plan for the year, imagine they are taking in your content or campaign. How does it make them feel?
Call a few of your favorite clients as the year winds down or as the new year starts. Ask them these questions. Overlay their input on your marketing plans for the year. What needs to change to keep the conversation going? What content/ service will you add? What will you subtract?
3) Have a consistently provocative message.
Coming up with slogans, one-liners and clever campaigns is exhausting – and largely ineffective. Instead, start with what you really want to say! Express it as raw, blunt truth and then you can wordsmith to a final message. Then stick with it. Use it in all of your outbound marketing, website headers, conversations. If you have a new campaign launching, draw inspiration from the tone of voice embedded in the message. This will simplify your work and allow you to have more brand cohesion throughout the year.
Don’t focus-group your message. If it resonates with you,and your team, feels daring and hopeful, share it.
A bonus fourth idea: Agile planning. Think in terms of an overall strategic intent for the year, then segment your plan by quarter with content themes, necessary resources and action items. Then liberally say “No!” when asked (or tempted) to chase an activity that’s not part of the plan.
These four strategies can constitute a marketing strategy for your year. If you focus on each of these this year and make them the bedrock for: campaigns, events, outbound, outreach, sales conversations, conferences and social media you will have an impactful plan for expressing your brand throughout the year.
The outcomes of this simplification are part of what founders salivate with desire, so if you are the marketing leader, don’t forget to share this part of the blog with your leadership.
A simple marketing approach yields:
- Velocity – You and your team are speedier at executing marketing because you don’t have to create new messaging every time.
- Efficacy – Since all of these strategies incorporate emotion and feeling, and are likely different from how your competitors are speaking to the audience, they will stand out. This makes your marketing more effective. Also, the more consistent your message is, the more effective it is over time in spurring desired action.
- Lower costs – When your message is impactful, you have to spend less to attract attention. Also, when your team is singing from the same songbook, you’ll spend less time creating content, visuals and experiences that support the brand.
- More stories – As your audience interacts with the brand, they will become a source of new stories (think brief anecdotes, two-sentence testimonials, short positive feedback) about your brand. Capture these mini-stories and use them for your brand.
Leonardo Da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” We think ol’ Leo has it right! It takes discipline to simplify but the payoff is a vibrant, ubiquitous and enduring brand.