It was Lao Tzu that once wrote, "If you want to be given everything, give everything up."
How many personal possessions do you need to survive? Could you live with just 15 of them? Tech entrepreneur, Andrew Hyde does. Could you live without a toilet or even a bed? The actor who plays Pete Campbell in Mad Men does. What is the least you could live with and still be satisfied?
Now consider your marketing expressions, what is the minimum you could live with and still succeed?
Think of extra copy, needless explanation, and overly conceived graphics as dead weight. Now consider your digital expression is a very small boat — a dingy. All those clever words, fancy borders, and heavy lifestyle images are sinking your boat.
We're trying to get the attention of a "distracted" audience. There is too much happening online to assume they are paying attention to us. The window dressing is turning them away.
Nothing is more successful than the simple offer being expressed simply. Anything that screams, "work" or "this will take up your precious time", will inevitably be avoided.
You lost me at, "hello"
At best, we are being glanced at. At worst, we are being misinterpreted. Being brief and precise is better than being clever and showy. Over-explanation breeds confusion as well as insecurity. Be confident with less explanation. If it can't be expressed simply, then it's too complicated for our "distracted" audience.
Give back to your customers, by removing excess.
Live with less
Provide less explanation, less noise. Describe only what is absolutely needed at each step. Reduce the steps required. At every step, ask: "is this text field necessary?", "can we get this info by other means?", "do we already have this data?", or worse, "did we already ask for it in the past?" There is no excuse for asking a customer for the same information twice.
Multi-tasking is bad
Simple, singular task construction is needed to focus our customers. Never, combine unrelated activities. If you are asking someone to sign up for email, never ask for them to participate in a survey. Do it afterwards. Everything should be: Step 1, Step 1, another Step 1. Complete this and then suggest another thing to complete. Not, "get ready to complete all this unrelated stuff."
Consider the clientele
Let's not be extreme, we must consider our customers' level of comfort. What works for a Japanese steakhouse, might not be enough in a Boise joint. If we're focusing on a new customer, we don't want to assume an expert level of understanding. However, if we're targeting a very active, loyal customer, don't serve up the same newbie content. They know the basics just get them to the gravy.
Simple will benefit the business
Simple is both scalable and sustainable. By applying less, there is less to manage. There is less to monitor, less to translate, less to modify and less to fix later.
Less is essential for mobile
Mobile is trending significantly right now. In just two years it will over take Desktop as the primary way we interact online. Talk about distracting. At least with desktop viewing we were competing with other online things. Now, it's the rest of the world too. Start pairing down your information now, prepare for the future of mobile online viewing.
Go teach your writers, designers, and your clients, that being a minimalist will win your customers precious attention.