Wed, October 31 2007

Occam’s Razor Cuts Deep

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

I gave the title of this post a goulish spin for Halloween, but Occam’s Razor is anything but scary—it’s actually our way out of hell.  The hell of being misunderstood, of boring our audience, of failing to move people to action.

In case you can’t remember what Occam’s Razor means, don’t worry, I had to look it up because I suddenly had amnesia about the term today.  Wikipedia explains here:

“All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the right one.” Originally a tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism, it is more often taken today as a heuristic maxim (rule of thumb) that advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity, often or especially in scientific theories.

In other words, what is simple is best - and not just for explaining science.  Simplicity is key to inspiring understanding and to being understood.  Simplicity is essential to good writing, design, and, of course, marketing.

Yesterday, I was “tagged” by a meme on the blog Occam’s RazR. In plain English, that means Occam’s RazR blogger Ike talked about something and then asked me to talk about that same topic.  The something was “media snackers”—Internet users who:

are not in it for the “long haul”
want quick, easily digestible bits
want to consume info where they want, when they want, and how they want

Ike caters to snackers very well.  That’s not surprising given the name of his blog.  His question was, how do I cater to media snackers? 

This is what I think: if I do my job right, every single thing I do is catered to snackers.

Everyone is a snacker in this day and age, and not just online.  Who on earth has time for the equivalent of multi-course meals of information throughout the day?  No one has time to read a tome on our topic, to sift through an overwrought appeal or to idly sit around and listen to us getting to the point.  They may sit down for a four-course “meal” on occasion, but they are going to dine on something very important to them personally.  And that something is not likely to be what we’re dishing out.

A few weeks ago, I was going to do a post that started, “My life kicks my ***.”  I never got time to do it, but the point was, I am absolutely overwhelmed by all the things I need to do each day.  And what I wanted to say was, I’m NOT special. I’m like 99% of the world out there, just trying to get most of what needs to be done, done, each day—and nearly never succeeding.  So I try to do the important stuff and let the rest go. 

If you want to communicate to someone, whether it’s website visitors, donors or your Aunt Betty, you must remember that’s how they feel.  Their time on this earth is beyond valuable, and if they give us any time at all, it is our duty to use it efficiently by communicating in a way that is poetic and beautiful in its economy.

Occam’s Razor cuts deep, but not in a surgical or scientific sense.  It slices straight to the heart of our work as marketers.  Stick to simple language, clear ideas and concise thinking.  It’s your best hope of getting a nibble.

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