If You Want Action, Start by Simplifying

Simplifying Stacks of Paper
(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

In my professional career, I have seen, with my own eyes:

  • A binder of over 200 pages meant to explain “our brand idea.”  (“Just absorb these 30,000 words, and you’ll get it.”)
  • A presentation by an agency president to his employees, listing 19 strategic priorities.  (“Our success depends on only 19 things!  Memorize them all!  Now get to work, and good luck.”)
  • An 80-page marketing plan.

That last one was my own creation, by the way.  Very early in my career, I mistakenly equated volume with quality.  Fortunately, I had a boss who set me straight.  After patiently allowing me to walk through all 80 pages, he asked a series of smart, pointed questions.  Among them:

Continue reading “If You Want Action, Start by Simplifying”

Less Can Be More

(Reading Time: 4 minutes)A young brand manager faces his vice-president of marketing, ready to present the first strategic plan he has ever created. He is nervous, but also confident in the fact that he has done a thorough job. The two fat binders that sit on the veep’s desk are proof of this.

The brand manager launches into his spiel. His presentation is a dazzling, overstuffed collection of words and pictures. Charts follow graphs. Data tables precede more dense data tables. At one point, the young man sets a world record for “most words crammed into a single PowerPoint slide, ever.” Continue reading “Less Can Be More”

300-page Branding Statements?! A Plea for Simplicity.

(Reading Time: 3 minutes)A colleague relayed the following story about a conversation with the chief marketing officer of an international retail chain. This CMO was grousing about having paid a big-name agency $500,000 for a branding statement.

But it wasn’t the price that bothered him – it was the fact that the statement was 300 pages long (not a typo), and he doubted whether anyone, himself included, would read it. He went on to say that what he had read was far too open to interpretation to suit him. Continue reading “300-page Branding Statements?! A Plea for Simplicity.”