Sometimes, making something easy is more challenging than doing it the hard way because it requires us to shift our mindset. “I didn’t have time to write a short letter,” goes the quote often attributed to Mark Twain, “So I wrote a long one instead.”
For marketers, distilling complicated concepts down to straightforward messages for our audiences is a significant part of our role. Yet, when it comes to simplifying things internally, we struggle — often developing complex, multi-layered strategies because we assume the amount of mental labor we invest in something is directly proportional to the results we’ll generate.
So, we shirk simple marketing practices in favor of campaigns that require a ton of time, energy, specialized skills and technology. But while it’s certainly valuable to leverage your hard-won experience and cutting-edge tech to fuel your strategies, we tend to miss the forest for the trees.
Here’s a secret: It doesn’t always have to be so hard.
Here are a few super simple tactics that can drive significant results, too.
“What does our audience really want?”
That’s the eternal question we’re all trying to solve, and sometimes it seems impossible. But while pouring over data and looking for clues like a desk-bound Sherlock Holmes can offer some insight, there’s a much easier method: ask them.
When was the last time you had a real, honest-to-goodness, face-to-face (or face-to-phone) conversation with one of your customers?
You must regularly reach out to existing customers to learn about the challenges they’re facing and the obstacles they’re striving to overcome. Pain points shift as industries evolve, and if you haven’t conducted an exploratory interview in a while, you may be working with outdated knowledge.
Most marketers spend all day with other marketers. Aside from a few errant meetings, the majority of your interactions likely happen with other people within your department. And this leads to siloed decision-making — which is rarely as productive as when you bring in varied opinions.
Instead of relying on meetings to glean insight from other departments, foster one-on-one relationships and open up a direct line of communication to other departments. As a marketer, grabbing lunch or a happy hour beverage with a salesperson or product pro is a great way to learn more about the decisions made in other areas of the business and the data they’re based upon.
For example, you may learn the product team is developing a solution to a challenge you weren’t even aware existed, or you may find salespeople hear questions you could easily tackle with the right content.
Furthermore, once you show other departments you’ve got their back, it’s much easier to get their buy-in on your efforts.
When your digital branding isn’t cohesive, it sends a negative message to your audience.
For example, if the tone and style of your website copy are entirely different than that of your social media posts, it can confuse your prospects. And when they can’t get a bead on who you are, it prevents them from trusting your ability to solve their problems.
One of the best ways to establish more consistency across your online (and offline) presence is to create a style guide. But if you don’t have the time to develop an entire manual, you should at least prepare a simple one-sheeter. Include your brand colors, style, voice and a few “no-nos” people should avoid when speaking about your brand. This reduces the likelihood of your teammates going rogue.
And by creating more cohesion across all marketing efforts, your brand will appear more polished and trustworthy.
A simple way to showcase the talent and expertise within your organization is to display it within your marketing efforts. But it doesn’t need to be a long, convoluted project.
For example, you can host a straightforward “Ask Me Anything” webinar, IGTV, or Twitter session with your best and most eloquent internal subject matter experts (SMEs). Give customers and prospects an opportunity to ask your SMEs their most pressing questions. Then repurpose those questions (and responses) to craft a series of informational content pieces.
One of the most challenging parts of writing copy for your website internally is that because you live the business every day, much of what you offer is second-nature to you. And the longer you’re with a company, the more challenging it is to understand what it’s like on the outside looking in. Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Many organizations make the mistake of using industry jargon-heavy web copy or being inadvertently vague about their offerings. And one of the best ways to overcome this issue is to use the “grandma test.”
“Imagining describing your work, your industry, and your business to your grandma—or someone who may be far removed from the work that you do from a technological and market perspective,” says John Winsor, founder and CEO of Open Assembly, in an article for Forbes.
If someone outside your industry and work can read your homepage and grasp what your company does, then congratulations! You’ve passed the test. But if they’re still confused, it’s time to simplify.
If you don’t have a grandma (or a friend outside the industry) available, the Hemingway App can also help you identify and break down complex language.
Marketing is a multi-faceted pursuit and, when you’re constantly bombarded with new technologies and concepts that promise to solve your challenges, it’s easy to overcomplicate things. But it doesn’t have to be this way — at least, not all the time.
By leveraging these five tactics, you can drive better outcomes without reinventing the wheel.