Just keep it simple. Especially when it’s not.

Just keep it simple. Especially when it’s not.

Cutting through the proverbial noise of today’s stimulus-rich, product-rich, information-rich environment is essential to get anyone’s attention. But shouting louder and louder, making even Sham-wow infomercials seem tame, isn’t the answer. More noise just adds to the cacophony and your audience tunes out.

If you want to capture someone’s attention (and heart and mind), whispering may work, but keeping it simple definitely does. The brands with the highest “simplicity index,” in fact, do the best business-wise according to Siegel + Gale research.

Complexity defines our very existence today, so the shockingly simple is what stands out and wins over customers’ hearts every time. Think Amazon’s one-click. Or Apple’s click wheel. And Nike’s “Just do it.”

Stretch your creativity and rethink how you can further simplify your message. Your product design. How customers communicate and interact with you. Your headline. Product functionality. Graphic design. Reports to your boss. Even the tough feedback you have to give to a direct report.

You can create infographics that distill a lot of data into something not just comprehensible, but poignant. You can develop a quarterly business review report that shows – on a single slide – how marketing contributed to company goals (vs. 20 slides that amount to a laundry list of 50 items completed). Is it necessary to be on every social media channel? Can you reduce your pricing options?

Here is an example of a real statement found on a company’s website: “These solutions comprise of vital services and tactics that work synergistically together to result in a valuable outcome.” Say what? That’s not simple, and definitely not going to make anyone stand out.

Simplicity is also useful to decision-making. It reminds us to say no to the thousands of other good ideas that come our way. When Nike CEO Mark Parker asked Steve Jobs for advice, Steve replied, “Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.” Subtracting really does add value.

Simplicity ironically takes more effort – so be prepared for that. Winston Churchill famously quipped, “I’m going to give a long speech today. I haven’t had time to prepare a short one.” The extra effort pays off exponentially.

By eliminating clutter, and getting to what matters, simplicity helps you light your audience’s fire and keep it lit longer – whether that audience is your CEO, your sales organization, your customer, or your prospect.

There are opportunities to simplify all around you. Maybe start with your desk.

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