Simplicity is the hardest thing to look easy.
Whether you are looking to build subscribers, get others to download, click, listen or watch, if people can’t understand what you are saying, then you are going to struggle to get them to act.
We overcomplicate things, rather than being succinct.
What may start off as tangled up and difficult, has to be presented in a way that makes it easy for others to interpret and relate to. Being relatable, means expressing yourself in a way that makes you more familiar and approachable.
When you become familiar to others, they feel more obliged to step forward and spend time and money with you.
Making things simple helps form connections, discover long-term alliances and both sides getting the most out of engagement and conversation.
I’ve been lapping up the comments this week with my pumpkin carving skills. The pumpkin has pride of place on the doorstep 72 hours before Halloween.
The fact is, the way I did it was far from complicated.
When it comes to carving pumpkins, you can keep it easy with two eyes, a triangle shape for a nose and then the smiley mouth. You can go to the other end of the spectrum and create intricate templates to effectively give your pumpkin a tattoo. Stick a candle in it and you have an award-winning piece of art.
Whilst things become easy when you know how, it. Is the path that takes something from hard to simple that becomes the attraction.
All I did with the pumpkin was this:
– Cut out two big eyes
– Made a triangle for the nose
– Carved a big mouth
– From the mouth I cut out, I used the ‘excess’ pumpkin and cut out triangles to make as fangs
– On each tooth I used a cocktail stick and stuck it back in the pumpkin
There we go, in five steps, that’s how you make a pumpkin in 10 minutes, where your kids think you are a superstar. Simplicity allows others to appreciate how it’s done more than the flair of the intentions.
Hopefully for next year, when you buy a pumpkin, you’ll refer back to this.
How Does This Relate To You?
I now get it why people add the word ‘strategist’ to their LinkedIn bios, it sounds complex. It is far easier to make things sound complex. This makes you look high and mighty as you have a safety blanket where everyone is none the wiser.
I was like this a year ago. My LinkedIn bio was a stamp of vagueness, where ‘content marketing strategist’ was worn like a prefect badge.
It made me sound self-important and I gave myself that honour. My message is now fully centred around building an audience in the spaces you own. It has made a huge difference in 2018. It became the message that people could attach themselves far easier to as they could see what’s in it for them and perhaps sat in a different space from ‘content strategist’ or some other marketing term to sound noble.
Marketers like to sound good, in an article called ‘marketers mess up everything they touch’ Geraint Holliman said, “because we don’t have the confidence or the standards, the barriers to entry to the marketing ‘profession’ are so low virtually any numpty can call themselves a ‘marketer’.”
“If you want to be a Lawyer, Accountant or Surveyor then be prepared for five or more years of studying on top of your day job – and only THEN can you start at the bottom of the ladder. But you want to be a marketer? Come right on in, even if you are drooling and can’t tie your own shoe laces.”
Live Close To Your Values
In order to be seen as a pillar that makes it look and sound easy, you have to be comfortable at being present and standing close to your values.
John Espirian highlighted in a recent article called, Find the Branding Hook that Others Sing Back to You, ‘You have to live your brand values.’ John boils everything down to being ‘relentlessly helpful’. That is his hook and that is what people echo back to John, including me. It is simple and he genuinely lives it. From being a regular voice on the You Are The Media Podcast to showing up via his regular Caffeine Club email, this is a person who is here to help.
The simplicity of John’s message is that he is relentlessly helpful. However, being concise and clear is by no means easy. It is about delivering your work in a precise way where there is a structure. The more you do this, the easier it becomes. The objective is to create change in not just your audience, but yourself.
This is the way I now structure the work I share and publish (online and offline).
– Does everything that I create relate back to helping others build their audience in the places they control? If it doesn’t I bin it
– Every article I produce, does it tick at least two boxes that relate to fact, experience, opinion (click here to read more on taking on board the fact, experience, opinion framework)
– Is the output something that my mum would get rather than just nodding her head? Biggest fan, toughest critic. If she doesn’t get it, then find a way to make it easier to understand
Simon talks about finding uncontested spaces (no matter what size of the marketplace) and then making the most of that space.
That is what the Met Office has done, by positioning themselves as a trusted source when it comes to the weather, rather than a local source for the forecast in a specific region.
Their role is to help others and be rewarded as a resource to reach out to (their Twitter feed is led by their customer service team). They have effectively created their own marketplace when recognising that they can’t compete with the likes of The Weather Channel for forecasts on Apple devices (they took this from Yahoo in 2014).
This allows the Met Office to get closer to their audience. The lesson for us here is that it pays to go out and converse with others. Just because a company can spend huge amounts on targeting personas and thinking that they know their audience inside out, it doesn’t always mean that the target audience is going to be reciprocal and what is created is going to encourage any form of interaction.
Just because you make complex work where you sound good, doesn’t mean that anyone else gets it or wants to be a part of it. What you say has to have meaning and what you create has to be people want. As Jay Acunzo said recently, “Don’t gather answers to justify acting. Act and you’ll find answers.”
Communication coach, Trisha Lewis, picked up on this after the You Are The Media Lunch Club with Simon. When it comes to creating content, Trisha highlighted the importance of owning your experiments by being accountable for your actions and communicating with honesty. This is what simplicity represents, the ability to focus on what you do and the role you serve. When people get it, you reside in a far stronger place.
Let’s Round Up
Simplicity can become the core of the experiences that you deliver. This helps provide the next steps you want people to take.
Simplicity means that you are accountable and not trying to blind someone else with our own agenda. To create and share a message, the art is not in making yourself look good, the art is taking something difficult and making it accessible for others.
You just have to act and untangle how the rest of the industry behaves, so others ‘get it’ from your side.