From the Desk (and Mind) of Marc Landsberg

Deviantism #23: Simple, Without Ever Being Simple-Minded

One of my least favorite gestures, ever, is this.

A comedian tells a joke, and no-one laughs. Then, the gesture that raises the hair on the back of my neck. He waves his hand over his head. As in, “that was damn funny, you just didn’t get it.”

In the world according to SOCIALDEVIANT, if it’s not understood, then it wasn’t well said.

The onus of effective communication rests almost entirely with the communicator. And we take this responsibility seriously.

In today’s modern marketing world, it’s easy to resort to a lot of jargon. All too easy to say something like “audience segments of one, though more hyper-addressable, are less actionable than more mass audiences given our ability to allocate media resources at scale.”


We’re all guilty of it. Me, more than most.

And yet, as marketers we often resist the temptation to simplify. We assume that complexity, often bordering on obfuscation, creates the appearance of intelligence and rigor.

At the same time, we sometimes make the opposite mistake. We so dramatically over-simplify and distill – in an effort to boil down weeks of analysis and hard work into 3 words – that we leech out all robustness, winnowing down our arguments to flaccid end lines.

Almost as much as the hand waving gesture over the head, I try to avoid at all costs the term “let’s dumb it down.”

Why? Easy. That’s an insult to your audience. Global 2000 clients are anything but dumb. They are incredibly smart, highly purposeful, technology-savvy decision-makers that above all, are time-crunched.

The goal, then, should be this: be simple, without being simple-minded.

That means:

1. Be clear in all communication. Avoid jargon, speak in plain English, get right to the point.

2. Distill wherever possible, so the argument is digestible by your audience. Digestible, first, and second, readily memorable/retrievable for future reference and application.

3. Preserve rigor, but not for rigor’s sake. Arguments can be made with data and analysis – when they are hypothesis driven and conclusion based, and centered around the central marketing challenge at hand.

4. Use appendices and adjacent reference material readily. Point to the analytics so clients and partners can, on their own terms, take a deeper dive as needed.

5. Less is almost always more…but know when too little is, well, just too little.

As marketers, we communicate for a living. And 9 times out of 10, our communications center around sharing points of view.

The opportunity, then, is to be clear, concise, to the point, straight-forward, and compelling through a relentless focus on relevance. Share in a way that is useful to our clients.

Simple, without ever being simple-minded.


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