Jacqueline Drew on marketing: Keep it simple, stupid!

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

By Jacqueline Drew, founder of Start Marketing in Calgary
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Last week I had to chuckle at myself for lining up in a bookstore to buy about three books which all included either the words, "The Idiots Guide to" or "The Complete Idiot's guide to" or "yada yada yada for Dummies. " Now mind you, I was buying books on Mathematics and Statistics, but I still thought it was pretty telling that books of that ilk were in fact appealing to me, a person who generally likes to think of herself as at least a mildly intelligent woman.

The fact was, I was just rusty. I wanted to be sure the books I was buying were written in a way I could grasp!

Anyway, it got me to thinking about a phrase a good friend of mine often says, which is "The risk of insult is the price of clarity." And this is something that couldn't be more true in creating good advertising.

Here's why.

First, sometimes you have to risk insulting your target customer be convincing enough. For example, if you say, "Try our easy accounting software," your customers still might think - "yeah, accounting software is never easy."

Or, you could say "If getting all your receipts into same box is hard for you, then try our Toddler level accounting program." It's close to home, it might risk insulting someone, but let's face it, it certainly applies to some of us.

Second, risking insult often proves you understand your customer. For example, "Do you find yourself plotting evil schemes against your horrible teenagers?" By hitting on a nerve close to home, you 're definitely showing the customers you can relate to their feelings. Which might help you sell, say, a parenting program, or a vacation getaway.

Finally, risking insult will allow you to cut through the clutter of dull advertising. Rather than say, "Teenagers, get help in math with our great tutoring system," you could risk a little insult saying, "Stop hiding your horrible marks from your parents!" Or, "Even the school idiot can get As on our program."

Now, I'm not saying that insulting people for the sake of insulting people is the way to go in advertising. But remember, if you can get to the core of someone's psyche with a clear statement, that could be the very statement that makes your advertising message click.

You know, keep it simple, stupid!

- Jacqueline Drew

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