Book Review - Simplicity Marketing:
End Brand Complexity, Clutter, and Confusion.

Written by Stephen M. Cristol and Peter Sealey, The Free Press, 2000, New York.

Reviewed By Paul Quinn, © 2003

"…. in the most developed economies of the twenty-first century, the next generation of positioning success will belong to those brands that relieve customer stress. That means simplifying customers' lives or business in ways that are inextricably tied to brand and product positioning. It means becoming the customer's partner in stress release."

- Page 2, Simplicity Marketing

This book is centred round the development of one valuable concept - that of simplicity marketing. The problem is that the book takes 272 pages to cover what could be perfectly argued in a 5 page article. Fortunately for you, I've read the book on your behalf and have summarised the key argument below.

Simplicity marketing is exactly as the name suggests - a simplified approach to marketing your products and services that breaks through the extreme cutter of competing messages. Resent research by a prominent US advertising agency found that we are exposed to between 500 and 2,000 logos, brands, and trademarks every day. Simplicity marketing argues that our capacity to comprehend this incredible volume of advertising information has reached its peak. The marketing solution, the book contends, is to position your brand on its ability to make your customer's life easier:

"With simplicity marketing, choice and innovation need not incrementally clutter the customer's mind but can instead be positioned to de-clutter it. …. (as) customer demand for stress relief continues to grow, this de-cluttering will translate into stronger sales, customer loyalty, brand equity, and competitive advantage."

The book proposes a framework for achieving brand simplicity that it calls the 4 Rs (Replace, Repackage, Reposition and Replenish). The irony in my mind, is that for a book on simplicity the framework is actually quite complicated.

Perhaps the best real life example the book cites of a simplicity marketing approach is Apple's introduction of the iMac computer. At a time when Microsoft were offering a dizzying array of options and extras, the iMac's launch advertising campaign reinforced the company's desire to simplify the customer's decision making process with headlines such as:

"Amazingly simple. Simply amazing."

"One decision. One box. One price."

"To everyone who thinks computers are too complicated…"

In short, simplicity marketing is definitely a concept worthy of consideration by the recruitment industry. With over 2,500 recruitment agencies operating in Australia alone, it is crucial that your agency stands for something relevant and easily understood by your customers. Too many recruitment branding decisions are made from the perspective of 'what's best for our company' as opposed to 'what's best for our customers'. In thinking about your brand in this light, and assessing your brand's ability to simplify your customer's decision making process, you stand to gain a compelling competitive advantage.


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