The Value of Marketing Simplicity in a Complex World

How many times have you heard, “the average consumer is exposed to ‘X’ number of ads each day?” It’s marketing simplicity that can make your message stand out.

How many times have you heard, “the average consumer is exposed to ‘X’ number of ads each day?”

The cliché often accompanies a pitch for a creative platform or placement intended to stand out in a crowd. In competitive markets, this mindset can drive growth in marketing budgets, as people become preoccupied with share-of-voice metrics and prestige placements. That’s why it’s worth remembering the subtext of the cliché is simplicity.

It’s true that consumers are inundated with commercial messages in more forums and formats than ever. Stimulating demand in a saturated advertising environment requires reasonable frequency. More importantly, however, it requires messaging based on your audience’s motivations and interests, simplified for each stage in the awareness-to-conversion process.

Message simplification can be challenging in healthcare. Topics are often complex. Accessing services may vary, based on the type of insurance. Technical points of differentiation important to those in the subject matter domain may not be drivers of choice for other audiences. And enthusiastic stakeholders may view white space as a missed opportunity to shoehorn in additional details believing that it strengthens the value proposition, rather than making it harder to find.

To simplify your messages, adopt a nurturing approach with prospects, rather than attempting to “close the sale” with the first touchpoint. Many healthcare services are “considered purchases,” meaning prospects may delay taking action, even on services they need. For example, people with chronic hip pain may delay taking action on hip replacement surgery until discomfort, over-the-counter medications, heating pads and stretching exercises are no longer tolerable. Prospects, fearful of a procedure, may turn away from a “hard-sell” approach, but be open to learning about your orthopedics program in smaller, less frightening increments. By deploying bite-sized content over time, you create familiarity, build trust and place competitors at a disadvantage for consideration.

So how do you get others in the organization to understand and support a simplified messaging strategy? Take a traditional conversion funnel and customize it for your needs. Above the funnel, indicate the phases and questions consumers might pass through as they come to terms with their healthcare needs. Below the funnel, show how the content and timing of your messages align with each stage of the patient journey. Build in response mechanisms that allow ready prospects to advance to conversion, while other prospects continue to be nurtured at their own pace.

This funnel visual aid can help internal stakeholders understand why a paced approach with simplified messaging will be more successful than one that delivers too much information at one time.

Direct Mail Design: Layout

Designing for direct mail can be broken up into three segments: layout, color/images and copy. Since this can be a real challenge, we will take on each section in depth to give you a better understanding and some ideas as well as tips to get you started on the path to a great direct mail piece. To start, let’s talk about the layout.

Designing for direct mail can be broken up into three segments: layout, color/images and copy. Since these can all be real challenges, we will take on each section in depth in separate posts to give you a better understanding and some ideas, as well as tips to get you started on the path to a great direct mail piece.

Section One: Layout
So you need to design your next direct mail campaign and are having trouble with ideas. Sometimes the best ideas in direct mail design have already been used.

The first thing you can do is look at the mail that comes to your home or business (or check out some mailpieces at Are there examples that stand out to you? There is no shame in taking a direct mail piece that you received and making it your own. Of course, sometimes the opposite is true and you get inspired by a really horrible piece.

Here are eight questions to ask yourself as you are contemplating design layout:

  1. What pieces do you like best? What about co-workers and family?
    This base will provide you with enough information and perspectives to start.
  2. Does a certain design function better than another?
    Practicality and mail ability are both big factors here. Making sure ahead of time what will work for the post office and what won’t is a real time and money saver.
  3. How were images or color used to draw your attention?
    Note each one and how you feel or interpret what they are trying to convey. Does it compliment the message or detract from it and why?
  4. What language was used to get you curious?
    Analyzing the word structure and your reaction to it is a great way to identify what your word choices should be.
  5. Was the offer compelling?
    Sometimes the offer may be compelling, but if it is not what you are interested or already have it, you will not buy it. Targeting your messaging to the correct audience is key.
  6. Were the important points and call to action organized and clear?
    This is very important, you can really learn what to do and not to do by looking at the offer you receive.
  7. What types of response mechanisms were available?
    The more the better. Include as many as you can and make sure some of them are mobile. People are using tablets and phones for most of their search and buying needs. Plus, you will benefit from instant gratification. They want it now!
  8. How can you make this piece better?
    Make a list of all the things you would change and why. Have others do the same and compare notes. You will gain insight into how your piece should look.

When designing your mail piece, are you taking all of these factors into consideration? Have you looked at your piece through the eyes of your recipient? Remember there needs to be a very strong “what’s in it for me?” for your prospects/customers.

Have someone outside of your organization look at your layout to make sure the message you are trying to convey is coming through. Direct mail is very visual and tactile; you need to capitalize on that.