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.

Why Your Marketing Falls on Deaf Ears and Blind Eyes

Creating the right framework so what your customers see is what you want them to see is not an expensive or long-term endeavor. It’s simply a matter of doing your research to see what they see now, determine what you need to do at all touchpoints to create the vision you want them have, and create a culture within which positive experiences are framed at every touchpoint, every day.

DNC telemarketing robocalls“Now you see me, now you don’t” isn’t just a great line from one of my favorite movies, (“Now You See Me”), it’s a critical peek into the mind of consumers and what drives them toward your brand, or fast away from it.

We humans are editors at large, everywhere we go and with every purchase we make. We edit events, experiences, and observations to fit our perspective and view of the world. If we don’t want to accept something, we simply don’t. Just take a look at your Facebook or Twitter feed. If you are a supporter of either Trump or Clinton, you simply don’t see or accept any of the accusations about their character, tax payments, email servers or conflicts of interest. You clearly see all of these issues and more about the one you don’t support. Why is this so?

Psychologists sum it up as WYSIATI — “What You See Is All There Is.” If something, even as powerful as scientific evidence, doesn’t fit our view of the world, adhere to our value set, or wish list for the life we live or values we support, then it simply doesn’t exist. We can erase all of the data or clear evidence that doesn’t validate what we “see” or want to see. For example, most Americans state they believe in science and that scientific procedures produce positive and real results. Yet they only believe the results they want to believe. Pew Research shows just how strongly WYSIATI applies to social and environmental issues in our world today. Recent surveys show the big gaps between what science shows through validated processes and what we the people believe:

  • GMOs Are Safe: 88 percent science, 37 percent public
  • Vaccines Are Needed: 86 percent science, 68 percent public
  • Climate Change Is a Real Threat: 94 percent scientists; 65 percent public
  • Humans Are the Primary Cause for Climate Change: 87 percent scientists; 50 percent public

The same applies to brands. We see it all of the time. We read a bad review, have one bad experience, hear a story about a product failure or recall, and it’s all we see then and in the future for years to come. Our smartphones are a great example. Forbes evaluated the iPhone 6 against the Samsung S7 and for eight out of 10 features, such as the camera, screen readability, battery and more, the Samsung outperformed the iPhone, yet 88 percent of iPhone users won’t switch. Our loyalty to a brand that has made us feel current, innovative, connected and even cool, makes us blind to the superior functionality another brand might offer for the same features and tools.

Our ability to see only what we want to see spills over into all aspects of our life. When in high-focus mode, we don’t see distractions around us, and when in high-loyalty mode, we don’t see competitive reasons why we should switch brands for the products we use daily.

Scientifically, this is called perceptual narrowing. Our brains are like big galleries of picture frames. We have a frame, or compartment, for our various beliefs and vague systems and we only believe what is in that frame which is created by our culture, upbringing, religious and social values, and experiences in life. When we hear something about a politician, our religion or a brand we love, whether we believe it, accept it and act on it is largely determined by what is the “frame” associated with that given issue.

For marketers, this is the key to why building experiences that create positive attitudes, oxytocin or “love” rushes, and dopamine highs that result in anticipation of rewards and personal achievements can make or break your sales. Customers keep coming back to brands that get bad reviews from consumers, and to brands that get good ones, if their frame contains a positive view of themselves in your world.

Experiences that put customers in stories that fulfill their aspirations, solve their problems, simplify their lives, increase happiness or trigger feelings of self-worth, are experiences that create frames full of brand joy, loyalty and evangelism. To create these frameworks, we marketers must create a holistic approach to the customer experience, including:

  • Products: Do they do what we promise they’ll do in our communications?
  • Service: Do we put customers first and validate their viewpoints, forever and always?
  • Experiences: Do we guide them on productive journeys that get them to the destination quickly, simply, affordably and with a smile on their faces?
  • How Do We Use CRM and CX Technology to Communicate in Real-time? Solve issues before they become part of the “frame” toward our brand, and proactively communicate ideas, opportunities that benefit them before us?

Creating the right framework so what your customers see is what you want them to see is not an expensive or long-term endeavor. It’s simply a matter of doing your research to see what they see now, determine what you need to do at all touchpoints to create the vision you want them have, and create a culture within which positive experiences are framed at every touchpoint, every day.

Believe any of this? Read my sources and if you still don’t believe me, you’ve just validated everything I’ve just said.