Okay, I’ve got a good one for you. Stop me if you’ve heard it before.
What do you sleep on, sit in, and brush your teeth with?
Have you made the connections? Do you know the answer? Are you ready?
A bed, a chair, and a toothbrush.
Yep, it’s really that clear. A bed, a chair, and a toothbrush. A direct question gets a simple, honest answer. Yet we are compelled to try to look at it in a different way, to try to unearth the deeper connections that may exist beneath the question.
That’s what we get for being in this field. Whether we’re looking to solve a marketing challenge or developing breathtaking creative, we frequently forget to look at the unpretentious solution. We’ve got internal and external stakeholders telling us that simple isn’t sexy enough, isn’t exciting enough, isn’t deep enough. Our concepts and communications will seem unworldly to our sophisticated audience. In the meantime, our perfect customers are subjected to more products being marketed to them in more channels than ever before. It’s a complex world out there. Why can’t we keep things simple?
Just take a look at the Brokerbabble Glossary section on CurbedNY. If you’re not familiar with it, Curbed covers real estate news and listings around the US. The Brokerbabble section is a great place to watch language gone wild. In an effort to differentiate their listings and attract the discerning, affluent buyer or renter, brokers are wreaking havoc upon English. It would be one thing if just a single listing featured improper use of unique or quaint. But it’s not. The condition is catching. And once the silliness hits a fever pitch, the listings get a featured spot in the glossary and readers sit back and laugh at the dysfunction (and covet the properties).
But we shouldn’t be laughing, because we do it, too. Artisanal, innovative, disruptive, even integrated have all lost their meanings. Not to mention what happened to literally! Agencies like to use million-dollar or made-up words when talking to their clients (been selling bespoke marketing solutions recently?), and clients like to use them in their marketing materials and ads. In our efforts to be savvy, smart, snarky, strategic, we’re losing track of how to communicate. And instead we sound silly.
Recent research from Ipsos finds that affluents are showing signs of an increasing sphere of influence. That is, they like to take the lead in decision making and they like to offer advice to others. They also spend time researching products and services before purchasing. How can we, as marketers, expect them to endorse our brands and products if they can’t make heads nor tails of what we’re saying?
The more complicated the product or service is, the more important it is to ensure that we’re talking to our customers, and not talking to ourselves. You can’t cover up deficient positioning with convoluted words or insights. We all know that jargon is a truth of our industry. (Honestly!) But we have to recognize how important clarity and honesty are in our communications with affluents today. Take a moment to get back to basics. Simplify your language, and your message. Know your personality, and showcase it. Use your voice and your features to demonstrate what makes you different. Today’s brand ambassadors, product promoters and service champions have a lot to consider when it comes to making a purchase. Make it easy for them to endorse you by keeping it honest.
Give them a bed, and chair, and a toothbrush.