Thoughts From The Cloud: Marketing Should Be Simple and Powerful
Picture this: a man in white board shorts enters the screen from the left, his body glistening in the sun. He spins in the sand, reaches down and grabs a handful, then rubs it on his head. He exits the black and white frame to the right as the camera zooms in on the foam lapping onto the beach. In large bold letters the word “Quikrete” floats just above the water.
If someone made this video, it would be a truly confusing advertisement, and a huge waste of money. For all the people who aren’t familiar with the brand (which sells all sorts of concrete tools and different concrete mixes), that ad would have no impact. They’d remember the weird dude, maybe, but they’d definitely not remember the brand. If they don’t remember the brand, what was the point of that exercise in humiliation, anyway?
Often Basic is Best
Now, it probably doesn’t come as any surprise that your typical Creative lives more inside their own head than out in the world, but despite how lovely that sounds, it has its drawbacks. For example, we live in a world where I was capable of imagining that above scenario. So, the day may come when a mix of exhaustion, overwork and stress reach the point that I literally pitch this to you. I fully expect you to look at me like I have three heads.
If you want to sell something, sell it. Selling concrete? Show a slab being poured or use a low shot of a car on a concrete driveway. Talk to DIYers about how easy it is to install with such and sucha tool. I mean, assuming that’s true. You don’t want your life to be a cliche, but it’s important to keep the message simple and easy to digest, especially when you’re talking about digital ads. They have far less captive audiences, so the risk of roaming is huge.
Hit ’em fast, hit ’em often and keep it simple.
Let’s try that commercial again.
We zoom out from what looks like a gray textured screen (spoiler: it’s really concrete) until we see that it has forms around it. A man is ripping boards off to the side of the concrete. His neighbor yells from across the street, but he doesn’t hear the man over the table saw. Neighbor crosses the street, stepping on the wet-looking cement. Camera zooms to the neighbor’s face, then to the man ripping lumber, then to the cement driveway that has recently been poured. The two men are unscathed and the driveway unmarred. “Quikrete: nothing dries quicker.” End scene.
Now that’s an ad that’s simple and powerful. And, hey, without doing anything weird or obscene, you’ve just made a commercial that might stick to some people.
Ask Yourself: Is My Idea Overly Complicated?
Whether you’re running a print ad, shooting a video, writing a radio commercial or designing a marketing piece for social media, it all starts as an idea. And if your ideas are anything like mine, the latest, greatest idea is one that appeared in the three seconds before you fell asleep last night or came to you in the shower and you lost most of it because the only writing utensil you had was a bar of soap and your shower door isn’t an ideal writing surface.
Either way, before you get in too deep, you need to figure out how your idea will be taken by others. To put it more simply: Is your idea too complicated for a single advertisement?
Any idea can become too complicated in execution, but if it starts out too complicated, you have no hope. Check your idea against these tests before you get started.
Test 1: Explain your idea in five words. Or three words. I mean, whatever. Can you make the core of this idea make sense to anyone with a few words? For example, I was thinking about writing an entirely different blog today about digital marketing and print marketing and the marriage of the two. But then I stopped myself and I said, “dude, that’s not one blog, that’s like nine.” So I went with “simple, powerful advertising.” And now it’s now.
Test 2: Count the buzzwords. I’m not joking. If your idea has more buzzwords than actual words that mean things, try again. You need a do-over. Buzzwords are the junk food of the marketing world. They’re fillers, but you get nothing out of them. People don’t necessarily know what they mean, or in some cases, they mean different things to different people. Just drop them. Just… no.
Test 3: Does your idea make sense for your audience? I get hung on this one a lot, but it’s really important. If you’re advertising to new homebuyers, you need to use ideas that make sense to them. Same if you’re advertising to plumbers. I mean, what are these people most concerned with? For those homebuyers, it might be making sure that nothing major in their home breaks during their first few years of ownership. For plumbers, it could be finding new ways to attract those first time homebuyers. The circle of life.
Whatever you do, don’t leave ’em wondering what it is that you’re selling or who you’re selling it to. Those two items are the keys to everything.