I’ve resisted this for years…
I want to believe you are smart.
I want to believe you are sophisticated.
I want to believe you are discerning.
I want to believe you will think critically about my marketing messages.
I want to believe you will engage with thoughtful ideas.
And perhaps, on an individual level, YOU will.
In fact, on an audience-by-audience basis, it’s probably more likely that YOU will. Because that’s how I write. It’s what I write about. I’ve you’ve stuck around for a while, you’re probably a little more predisposed to thinking.
I don’t write to the lowest common denominator, and so you’re probably someone who responds somewhere above that level.
I’ve had plenty of people unsubscribe because I focus on high-level thinking, and not little tactical tricks for boosting conversion rate.
That’s always been okay by me.
But, there’s a problem…
If you or me are unwilling to go to the simplest ideas, we’re missing today’s audience…
I had high hopes.
I hoped social media, processed food, and the 24/7 stream of mindless news updates wasn’t rotting that hunka-hunka gray matter inside our gourds.
But more and more, I’m waking up to it.
On a statistical, aggregate level, what works in marketing is getting simpler.
— People aren’t patient — they want it fast.
— People don’t want to work — they want it easy.
— People don’t want to invest — they want it free.
I’ve said this for years: Fast, easy, free.
But more and more, it’s even more prevalent.
The marketing messages that are killing it are promising results faster, easier, freer.
Catering to the lowest common denominator has worked in many venues recently (biting my tongue on saying much more).
And it’s definitely working in marketing.
Where have all the thinkers gone?
That’s a good question.
I do believe many are still there. There’s a market within every market where you can speak at a higher level.
Even if you still follow the readability advice of writing to the 7th-grade level, this sub-market is willing to think a little more.
But this requires intention. It requires a choice. And it requires you to accept that your ability to scale will always be limited by this factor.
If you want to go after the massive markets and massive results, you have to bring it down.
Make it simpler.
Once you get down to the point where you think, “Geeze, that’s so stupid-simple, I don’t think anyone would believe it,” you’re somewhere around the right level.
When you’re worried if you accidentally wrote something that feels a little too much like click-bait, you’re onto something.
I wish I were joking…
I wish it weren’t true.
From inside your market, you can look at the promises that work with the skepticism and cynicism of experience, and think they’re just too dumb for anyone to believe them.
But that’s what the market is responding to today.
That’s what your market wants.
It’s what they want to hear.
It’s what they’ll pull their wallets out for, over and over again.
Again, if you’re building your own business, you might be able to aim a little higher.
But if you’re writing for clients, you might just be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Because if you’re writing for clients, your job is to do what you can to get them the highest response rate possible.
Even more, in most markets this is what you’re up against.
So if someone else is doing it (and yes, they are) and you’re not, you’re getting smoked on media buying, list rentals, affiliate and JV promotions, and even just attention at the inbox or ad level.
If you’re not doing it and someone else is, they’re going to get most of the response.
To do anything else is playing the long game…
And it’s often longer AND harder.
In fact, you can flip the fast, easy, free equation to figure out what it is — slow, hard, and expensive.
Not saying you shouldn’t do it.
Not saying you shouldn’t aim high.
Not saying you shouldn’t walk the narrow path.
Not saying you shouldn’t be a beacon of light in the darkness.
But it won’t always be easy.
A couple more thoughts — one very related, one less so.
Thought 1: Are we turning into the humans from Wall-E?
The Pixar movie Wall-E is brilliant.
I love it so much. It’s been too long since I’ve seen it.
But today’s message makes me think of it.
Because, as you find out, it’s about a dystopian future where everybody is so plugged into consuming media and non-food that they’ve become total mindless slaves.
And sometimes I cynically worry if that’s the road we’re walking.
From inside the land of marketing where we measure what works and how that changes through time, it’s easy to see the pull.
Also, as another point of appreciation, Wall-E gets extra brilliance points for pulling off an engaging 20-minute intro with ZERO real dialog — in a kids movie. I mean, wow.
Thought 2: “A trained mind is better than any script.”
I’ve been reading The Daily Stoic book and its daily meditations for almost a year now. It helps me stay aligned to living a good life.
Today’s meditation was based on this quote from Epictetus…
“In this way you must understand how laughable it is to say, ‘Tell me what to do!’ What advice could I possibly give? No, a far better request is, ‘Train my mind to adapt to any circumstance.’ … In this way, if circumstances take you off script … you won’t be desperate for a new prompting.”
This is, in essence, what I’m wrestling with today.
Markets respond when you offer a script for living life, or getting a certain result. The simpler the script seems, the more they’ll respond.
It’s not usually the best thing for them. And it’s usually NOT what I want. I’d rather be trained in principles and strategies I can use to develop my own tactical scripts for every situation (on the fly, if necessary).
Train my mind.
It’s what I’d want if our roles were reversed.
And my version of The Golden Rule is to “treat others the BEST way you want to be treated.”
And so today, you get a thoughtful rumination on the effectiveness on writing to inspire thoughtless response from today’s audience.
Please use this knowledge ethically and with the best outcome in mind for your market — however you choose to use it.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,