Three simple approaches to cut the strings that pull on your mind

There is real clarity in simplicity, but it takes hard work and awareness. Here are three simple approaches marketers can take to achieve that sometimes elusive goal.

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Think of all the interests vying for a second of our attention. Silicon Valley startups, tech corporations and a bevvy of interested consultants promoting Generative AI, automation, hyper-targeting, personalisation. All teasing and distracting us with shiny new things. Competing media channels and influencers predicting the decay of social media, bots and fakery, seeking to undermine our trust in content and digital advertising. Publishers, podcasters and pundits heralding the end of purpose, CMOs and even brands, to provoke debate, outrage and fear. All this noise. All these temptations. They are just a slice of what the modern marketer is exposed to.

The distracting forces acting on us, pulling us away from the things that truly matter. Powerful and hard to resist, perhaps we should strive to be more than a mere puppet pulled on a string.

In 2024, like never before, maybe we need to double down and pay attention to what matters. I find clarity in simplicity, but it always requires real work and awareness to achieve. So, what should matter to marketers in 2024? What are the rules of the road in a turgid UK economy with many uncertainties?

Focusing resources on products and services customers want to buy

It’s not about what we want to sell, it’s always been about what punters want to buy. Sounds obvious, but it’s easy to tow the line and stop using our intuition and imagination when it comes to products – especially in a world that values incomplete information because it is called data, over the complex processing of our minds and gut.

I don’t just mean innovate, though goodness knows there are plenty of different ways to satisfy customer demand. No, instead, I mean we might find some gold in just skinnying down an existing offer and price point.

Times are hard. Grocery inflation is still running at 8%. Think about the bells and whistles, the non-essential attributes that drive up cost and price. See if they can be stripped out. It may result in an inferior proposition, but if a new lower value and lower spec offer attracts greater share from an untapped segment…

Be easy to find and easy to buy

Perhaps Professor Byron Sharp’s greatest contribution to brand building. It is certainly a truism at the heart of his findings and books. It means getting our content, search and performance advertising strategies fully optimised. And, getting those journeys working seamlessly, continuously improved and converting better.

There’s never been any point in winning attention from consumers, only for them to have a terrible purchase journey. If it’s complicated and long, simplify it. If our brands and products are hard to find, we need to become discoverable. Removing all barriers to purchase is transformative.

Be a bit more banjo

I heard Sarah Carter, the legendary brand planner, use this phrase on a podcast recently. It’s spot on, and something we have lost in recent times.

People want to be entertained, amused and moved, now more than ever. It is how great advertising builds brands – by tapping into a powerful and universal human truth that the target audience can relate to, linking that truth or moment to our product or brand, and then dramatising it with elan to connect with people, with a deliberate lightness of touch.

A little bit of hope, schadenfreude, laugh-out-loud bellyaching silliness, or if you must, a tear-jerking emotional sucker-punch at a poignant moment. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that we make our brands and products something people can talk about and recall in a gloomy and uncertain world.

So let’s put those violins and worthy intentions aside, and start having some fun and engaging our audiences with pathos; through humour or deep understanding. It’s the only way to stay remembered and viewers will find it so satisfying, when we get it right.

So, three simple approaches to drown out all the distracting brouhaha of the media, siren calls of new tech, and temptation to dabble around the edges. Three simple approaches to focus marketers as we start the year. Three simple approaches to cut the strings that pull on our minds.