The need for simplicity

TechCrunch has an excellent article on the need for simplicity in communicating what you do. While the examples in Michael Arrington’s article are bigger than the small businesses that read this blog, the advice still applies no matter what you are trying to sell or to whom you are selling.

You would think this would be an easy task for a small business, after all, they operate in a smaller market and often don’t have a large variety of services to offer. But when you look at many small business advertisements or marketing material, so much is crammed into the space it gives you a headache looking at it.

I recently completed a print ad for a new client (you can see the ad here, and I did their logo a couple of months ago). When the ad ran, I picked up a magazine to have a look and verify that the ad ran correctly. The magazine is local, running almost exclusively local business advertisements, and does a pretty good job of targeting its chosen demographic. But what struck me was how busy most of the advertisements were. Most of them had no real message. They were just a quick shout out of their name — “HEY, DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME!” Unfortunately, the shout out often got lost in the noise of their own ad and the noise of the other ads around it.

The few ads that had simple messages stood out like an oasis in a desert. They caught your attention because their message was so simple it was easily understood at a glance. One of the ads that stood out to me was for a local gift shop (who is not a client, by the way). Their ad broke through the clutter by having lots of white space and featuring just one product. It was effective because it stood out. It also was a national co-op ad, which explains why its execution was so much better than many of the other ads, and is a rare example of how to use co-op advertising effectively.

The message your small business communicates to its potential customers is vital to your business. Good communication of a simple message brings in new customers and has people talking about your business in a positive way. Poorly conceived communication leads to muddled messages and you get lost in the crowd and forgotten. Take the time and make the investment to craft your message and communicate it well.


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