Keep Marketing Simple

Simple marketing is the best marketing. If you think about some of your favourite brands, whether it be your local coffee shop or your mobile phone, I bet you one thing these brands have in common is that they keep their marketing simple. They make it easy (and enjoyable) to purchase their products. Our lives are complicated – humans are complicated. If we can make the customer’s buying decision painless by making our marketing easy to understand, use, and deal with, then we will create customer value.

In their HBR article, ‘To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple’, Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman refer to a research study by the Corporate Executive Board to find the biggest driver of customer ‘stickiness’ (i.e. intent to repurchase). Across 7,000 customer surveys, the biggest driver of stickiness, by far, was decision simplicity – the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information about a product and confidently and efficiently weigh their purchase options.

If customers want simplicity, then it’s our duty as marketers to give it to them.

I created the Customer Wish-List Matrix to help you evaluate whether your marketing is designed with the customers’ best interests in mind.  The column headings contain the three pillars of simple marketing: (1) easy to understand; (2) easy to use; and (3) easy to access. The rows contain your core marketing elements.

Customer Wish-List Matrix


MARKETING STRATEGYStrong point of view – ‘you stand for something’It’s crystal clear ‘who’ you are for, and ‘whom’ you are notSupported by everything you do – and what you choose not to do
PRODUCTS & SERVICESBenefits clearly articulatedIntuitive, flexible, and durableAvailable and fast to respond
PRICINGQuantifiable valuePerceived value greater than perceived priceTransparent, no surprises
COMMUNICATIONSPlain, jargon free languageStraight to the pointWebsite information facilitates the decision to buy
PROCESSESEfficient order fulfilmentPain points eliminated (delays, paperwork)Open and inviting
STRUCTUREClear points of contactDecisions made on the spotTrustworthy and dependable

For example, let’s evaluate the world’s most valuable company, Apple, against the Customers’ Wish-List Matrix.

MARKETING STRATEGYPower to the people through technologyTargets people – users, rather than markets“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity”– Steve Jobs
PRODUCTS & SERVICES‘1,000 songs in your pocket’ value proposition for iPodExceptional customer experience through elegant user interfaces and design Buy online or go to one of their 453 stores around the world
PRICINGPremium price Customer value = perceived value – price. For Apple, it’s high.Online product price includes GST and free shipping. No hidden extras.
COMMUNICATIONS‘Think Different’Concise and appeals to your emotionsWebsite contains 360° product views, wrist sizing chart for iWatch, side-by-side product comparisons, etc.
PROCESSESRanked 1st among online retailers with average delivery time of 2.3 daysNo in-store checkout counters = no queues Knowledgeable and approachable sales assistants. ‘Try before you buy’ product displays.
STRUCTUREIn-store ‘Genius Bar’ for service and repairs.No divisions at Apple – just one team of 80,000 employees focused on doing 2 – 3 things better than anyoneLean management structure forces senior managers to be close to customers

Steve Jobs was a brilliant marketer. He built a $750 billion business out of his parent’s garage. And guess what… he loved simplicity!

Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

– Steve Jobs

Let’s make our customers’ lives easier by making our marketing simpler. It’s a win-win for all.

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