Merrily Orsini's Thought Leadership

Creativity is the mastery of simplicity

It’s one thing to launch a marketing campaign to sell bananas. After all, bananas have relatively straightforward selling points: they’re nutritious and delicious. That’s about it.

But what about promoting more complex products … like word-processing software, or a reengineered hybrid vehicle, or home health care? In situations like these, the complexity of the product often obscures the marketing message. Instead of a clear understanding of the product or service and why he should buy it, the prospective customer sometimes gets an overwhelming barrage of irrelevant information – everything from an in-depth analysis of how the technology works to a long-winded narrative of the product’s history to inundation with industry vernacular that is meaningless.

British mathematician Erik Christopher Zeeman once said, “Technical skill is mastery of complexity, while creativity is mastery of simplicity.”

The key then is to identify what’s important to the prospective buyer and what isn’t. Everything else is excess fat to be trimmed away.

So how does one creatively simplify sales campaigns for complex products?

The process is not much different than that used to market the banana. Consider the case of the hybrid vehicle. Unlike the banana, the hybrid is a sophisticated piece of cutting-edge machinery. But like the banana, its proponents purchase it for very specific reasons. The creative marketer must identify these so-called “selling points.”

The selling points for a hybrid vehicle might be:

  • Eco-friendliness
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Reliability
  • Performance

Once these selling points have been isolated, the marketing campaign should focus solely on them. Everything else must fall by the wayside. There may be an interesting story behind the design of the hybrid, but if it doesn’t impress upon the target audience the hybrid’s eco-friendliness, fuel efficiency, cost-effectiveness, reliability or performance quality, then it’s a waste of time to tell it.

Brenda Keener, Director of North American Sales for Wi2Wi Inc., suggests that the marketer draft what she refers to as an “elevator pitch” that endeavors to sum up the product’s selling points in two minutes or less. (Roughly the amount of time it should take to convince someone in an elevator to purchase the product while traveling between floors.)

When it comes to complex products, a good marketer must be a good harvester. Weed out unimportant information. Cultivate worthwhile sales pitches that focus on the things consumers need.

And most importantly, keep it simple.