Think about the most powerful messages you’ve ever heard. Picture the most life-changing piece of advice passed down from a mentor, the most stirring call to action in a stump speech, or the stickiest slogan ever splashed across a commercial.
We’ve all been advised to “not judge a book by its cover,” to “not count your chickens before they hatch,” and that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” My personal favorite piece of received wisdom, essentially a piece of meta-advice, is “all advice is autobiographical.”
Maybe for you what comes to mind is something political, like Patrick Henry’s revolutionary “Give me liberty, or give me death!” or more recently, Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can.” In the halls of great marketing, you might remember Apple’s “Think Different,” Nike’s “Just Do It,” or Disney’s “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Now think for a second about the other few thousand messages you heard in the past 24 hours –things told to you, like ads, warnings, instructions, or even things you’ve sought out, like articles, social media posts, or stories. How many of them do you actually remember? How many of the things that you’ve said do other people remember? Do they actually even hear what you’re saying?
Regardless if these messages are trying to get your dollars, your votes, or just your thoughts, the most effective messages all share one thing. They are simple.
Simple ideas stick. Simple messages win.
Coming in Fall 2023 from Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Simply Put: Why Clear Messages Win — and How to Design Them is an instruction manual for helping us get simple. Pre-orders are available soon, sign up below to learn more and to start your journey to actually getting heard.
My name is Ben Guttmann, and I started a marketing agency out of an old professor's basement in 2011, working with the local ice cream shop and camera repair store, and grew it to a multi-million dollar company working with some of the biggest brands in the world. After ten years, we sold our agency in 2021.
Now I write, teach marketing at the City University of New York, serve on a few boards, and periodically consult with a handful of start-ups, thought leaders, and other clients.