Intro by Skip Cohen

Bev Walden knocks it out of the park with this post on simplicity. And the timing couldn’t be better as we approach a new year.

“Simplicity” is a tough challenge. Years ago, I was honored to spend some time with Senator Howard Baker. He told me a story about a letter he sent another Senator once. It opened with, “Sorry this memo isn’t shorter; I just didn’t have the time!”

It’s hard to be to the point and direct, especially regarding advertising and promotion. We’re not copywriters, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to be overly wordy and miss the point!

Think about your business, your work on building your skill set, and your target audience. They ask one simple question, “why should someone hire me?” Now, take that answer and apply it to the value of photography.

I’ve quoted Jodi Picoult so many times over the years.

“This is what I like about photographs. They’re proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect.”

Keep that statement in the back of your mind as you focus on your message. You’re a magician, capable of stopping time and giving people memories they can hold for a lifetime!

Stop overthinking your message and hot people with your heart.

“Simplicity forces your BEST ideas to rise to the top”

Have you ever watched a television commercial and when it was over, you had NO IDEA what product they were selling?

Let’s learn a lesson here!

We need to think of our messaging (marketing) like we are creating a billboard. When a person drives by a billboard, they have 3 seconds to read and understand its message. This is the true test of simplicity . . . and the very reason why SIMPLICITY should be your marketing “buzzword.”

Core – What’s the single, central idea that you want to tell?

Compact – How do we make the idea succinct? (see Marketing Chunks below)

We don’t have the luxury of explaining all the wonderful attributes of our products or all of the things we do in one breath. We must narrow it down to one single idea at a time! We call this marketing in chunks; here are three examples of the ones we use:

One: “Time . . . it’s the most precious thing you can give someone. Especially if you can make it stand still. And you can . . . with a Walden portrait.”

Two: “No fake smiles. No bad posing. No details left unattended. Just a portrait for your wall that takes your breath away. Brought into existence through artistry, creativity, skill, and lots of heart!”

Three: “Walden’s believes there is no time like the present, and no present like time, brought to a halt. Step through their door and find the place where time stands still . . . with a Walden portrait.

We spread our messaging out through many different venues with simple messages. Because we message through emails, our website (both in our wording and providing short videos), phone calls, brochures, emags, et, we can offer little “bite-sized chunks” of who we are and what we do.

We don’t want to overwhelm our prospects or clients by hitting them all at once with EVERYTHING WE DO AND EVERYTHING WE ARE.

K.I.S.S (Keep it Super Simple)

The lesson here is to tell your entire story. Just focus on ONE differentiating idea and drive it into the mind. If there’s any trick to finding that simple set of words, it’s being ruthless about how you edit what you want to say. Anything that others could claim just as well and you can eliminate. Anything that requires a complex analysis to prove, forget. Anything that doesn’t fit with our customers’ perceptions, avoid.

Some of the most powerful companies have short and simple messages.

McDonalds: ba da ba ba baba, I’m lovin’ it (jingle)

Nike: Just do it

L’Orleal: You’re worth it

Apple: Think Different

You must make an instant connection with your audience. Simplicity is one of the best ways to do it. Judging from the literature that photographers have given us over the years, we would have to say that most studios across the country are too complicated for their clients to grasp!

What can you simplify this year?