How to avoid being a bad KISSer

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In our quest to KISS, you know "Keep it simple, stupid." do you think it's possible to keep it too simple? In one of my recent email blasts, "Beware the KISS of death," I wrote about good KISSing form. Today, my focus is the bad. Yes. Bad KISSing. I see it all the time. Just the other day, I found the three examples. They were so simple that I almost missed them – and that right there is the problem.

You see, in marketing communications, simple and predictable often translates to "dismissible," i.e., something readers can scan and ignore in order to save time. But that's the exact opposite of our job as marketers. Our role is to make people think and remember our product or service, right?

That leads me to the hidden downsides of "keeping it simple." Chief among them is that you risk wasting your budget and effort on prospects who are ignoring you. And in the long term, you can erode your brand's relevance by being simply uninteresting.

In the interest of helping you avoid becoming a bad KISSer, I'm happy to provide you with my list of ways that marketers often "keep it simple" incorrectly:

  • Becoming overly-fixated on word count. If it's engaging, readers are just as likely to read 20 words as 2.
  • Opting for simple Jargon, those oh-so-convenient words that everyone in the industry uses so much that they are meaningless. "Value-engineered" is one of my favorites. Sure, they're concise and easy. But you use them at the sacrifice of saying something memorable or meaningful. Right?
  • "Dumbing down" to the level of a 12 year-old or whatever year-old. People hate being talked down to. It's a simple truth.
  • Using line-item lists of features that have been cut and pasted-in verbatim from some other piece of communication. Look at the context (website? brochure? newspaper ad?) and customize the copy.
  • Believing in magic solutions. For example, one or two words that say everything, offend no one, and work no matter what. They rarely exist. When you find one, it's usually jargon (see above.)
  • Lastly, beware the ideas that gain the greatest consensus around the office. Opting for the lowest common denominator gives you the lowest risk-but it also gives you the lowest opportunity for extraordinary success. Some good ideas just can't gain a quorum.

In our business, keeping it simple doesn't always guarantee success. You have to look at the whole picture. And when that's not enough, it helps to have another option in your backpocket.

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