Simplicity is the new complexity

complexity marketing assassin blog

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An old colleague of mine loved to wax lyrical about how b2b marketing was complex and how his agency loved to thrive in complexity. I look at alot of b2b marketing and whilst the bar has undoubtedly been raised from a creative perspective, I still see a lot that disappoints. And I think I know why.

Not so long ago there was a time when products were sold based on the ‘features’ they had. After a while it become the vogue to position them based on the ‘benefit’ they provided to the user. In time, clever marketers realised that to convert prospects to customers there was a need to spell out what the benefit was so it ‘appealed’ to a prospect and as a result they bought it.

Along the way, companies sold to the public. And companies sold to other companies. Customers bought products based not on the functional attributes of the product but an emotional and sometimes even irrational pull that helped position one product as more important to another. The age of the brand had arrived.

In addition, some large companies looked to outsource services to other companies and service marketing arrived. Along the way intermediaries were introduced as a way to look after retail and distribution, and increasingly sales and customer service.

A stack of complex strategies and methodologies designed to sell text books and swell course numbers were created to explain these new and complex relationships. Which brings me back to my point.

Most marketers claim they operate in complex environments, having to deal with the different needs of a diverse range of customers all impacting/influencing a purchasing decision.

If you’re a b2b marketer or agency with b2b clients, do you have a problem wondering how to proposition your widget to your customer and his entire management team? Who decided your business and your customers needed things to be complicated? After all, who likes complexity. You don’t. Your boss doesn’t. Your FD doesn’t either. And guess what, your customer doesn’t either.

In business, people like simplicity; that’s delivering on your promises with integrity, doing it well, transparently, providing a good deal and a fair price. From a marketing perspective it is about profitably meeting customer expectation. End of. It’s a win win.

Keeping things simple means focusing on the guy who signs your cheques, not the ten tiers of management either side. That’s his job. You sell your product well – on benefit and appeal – its a no brainer. Complexity makes decision making more difficult, makes the business of business harder. Focus on keeping things simple and they just don’t need to get complicated.


4 responses to “Simplicity is the new complexity

  1. So true, complexity often leads to confusion..especially in communication you have to understand the context and the experience of the receiver 🙂

  2. I agree entirely with you Rene. Organisations struggling to differentiate will often complicate and muddy the marcomms effort. In b2b technology for example, if you have a range of vanilla products lined up, then often “creative” marketing or embroidery is all they have to offer.

    Client side, internal politics can get in the way – e.g. key decision makers in a company could be both the IT and FM team, each with a different set of priorities, including budget. Prospects/customers also need to be supported to better articulate their needs.

  3. …but don’t ignore the influencers in the B2B marketing strategy. You may be selling to one person, but others get to vote/have their say. So keep it simple, yes; and run parallel activites to these other players – press, analysts, influential clients …

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