Successful marketing is about applying “KISS”

A natural tendency amongst professionals in any industry can be to over complicate matters and over egg the pudding. Marketing is certainly no stranger to an over reliance on buzz words, flowery language and an exaggerated sense of self- importance. Having sat in meeting with executives from Microsoft who are able to spin entire sentences without really saying anything, I have experienced it first-hand.

The wonderful marriage of art and science that drives the most successful marketing is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. However, this also leaves open a back door to those who revel in the scenario described above. As a consequence the basics of good marketing can become forgotten by even full time marketing professionals.

The art of KISS is being lost.

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What is KISS?

KISS is an acronym for “Keep It Simple, Stupid”, and it tells us that the simplest way, is often the best. Marketing is littered with failed campaigns and projects that were unable to achieve their objectives, and have been abandoned.

Over complicated competitions, branded social networks, points based promotions… they are all planned and executed with high hopes, but fail to ignite in the consumer’s imagination.

To give you an example from my own experiences, I have run…

a) Competitions that required people to buy a product to qualify for the possibility they may win a prize, with a lot of terms and conditions applied to it

b) Competitions where anyone could submit to enter for the possibility to win a prize, with fewer terms and conditions

c) Competitions where everyone got a discount on a product automatically upon purchase, with simple terms and conditions

In order, the most successful in terms of sales and branding (e.g. social media sharing, press releases publication etc.) were C, B and A. The simplicity of C trumped B, which in turn trumped A.

People don’t want to have to work at something; especially if there is no guarantee at the end i.e. it is overly complicated.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, in fact, you shouldn’t!

The urge to do something new drives many people in the industry, but they are not stopping to ask if it is the right thing to do.

The biggest and best campaigns rarely set new ground, they take what is known to already work and at most give it their own little twist.

For example, rather than ask a customer to collect points on the promise of a prize they may or may not get, run a simple price promotion; it will absolutely drive more sales.

It doesn’t sound as sexy, but if sales go up, surely it is job done? The marketing wheel does not need to be reinvented, and the foundations of any successful marketing are the same whether you work alone, or you are an international brand.

The principles of KISS marketing

In my opinion, the key principles of KISS for marketing communications are…
a) Truth: The reality of consumption lives up to the promise
b) Relevancy: The message being communicated is right for the consumer
c) Timing: The timing of the communication is right for the consumer
d) Simplicity: The message is easy to understand

Examples of how to apply KISS to your marketing

This is all very easy to say from a theoretical perspective, so here are some specific real world examples you can draw inspiration from:

The reality of consumption lives up to the promise…

  • Show your prices including VAT to avoid dissatisfaction or abandonment at check out
  • Be clear what your product does and doesn’t do
  • Don’t over promise on the levels of performance the customer can expect

The message being communicated is right for the consumer…

  • Use images that represent how the target customer views themselves, or aspires to be
  • Use language that fits in with your branding and the customer will respond to

The message is easy to understand…

  • Use clear, easy to find calls to action on all marketing communication i.e. what should they do next?
  • Keep all promotions easy to understand and  to use
  • Simplify any online order process to the absolute minimum information you need from them

When it comes to planning your next marketing campaign, or you are conducting an audit of your current marketing, resist the urge to keep adding more.

More fields to fill out, more processes, more colour, more content, more terms and conditions… etc. The simpler it is for a customer to understand and complete, the more you will sell, and the stronger your brand will be.

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2 thoughts on “Successful marketing is about applying “KISS”

  1. Great article and advice on marketing. Many small business owners end up spending lot of time, money and effort in experimenting with various marketing “gimmicks” and forget the basic principles of marketing. The KISS principle you have mentioned here is a great reminder to do simple things and do it right.

    1. Thanks Harry. It’s an easy trap to fall in to, and I’ve done it myself over the years.


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