“Simple” …Is Not So Simple.

In the fall of 2015, I attended the LinkedIn B2B Forum in New York City. After listening to several insightful presentations on the customer journey, marketing technology, measurement, relevance, and new research findings, I had my own “Hallelujah” moment during the final panel discussion of the day, “Insights from the Cutting Edge.”

It came when Margaret Molloy—Global CMO and Head of Business Development, B2B at Siegel+Gale—smoothly segued into Siegel+Gale’s organizational approach, which is rooted in simplicity. Defined as the “intersection of clarity and surprise,” simplicity is the compass guiding everything they do for their clients.

I’m fascinated by opportunities to extract compelling and creative ideas from mounds of information—to simplify—in the service of advocating for people like you and me who are bombarded with an insane amount of advertising messages every day. We’re all looking to simplify our lives. Can design help?

Simplicity and complexity need each other

Simplicity is clearly not a new idea, but it’s easy to lose sight of the need to keep things simple in a complex world. Consider John Maeda’s Law of Simplicity #5: Differences.

Simplicity and complexity need each other. The more complexity there is in the market, the more that something simpler stands out. And because technology will only continue to grow in complexity, there is a clear economic benefit to adopting a strategy of simplicity that will help set your product apart.

If you can find a balance between these two qualities, something amazing happens: all of a sudden the complex becomes less intimidating, more meaningful, and a joy to experience.

A lot of my favorite design—not to mention advertisingartmusic, fashion, video, architecture, product design and literature—skillfully balances contrasting elements or ideas. They are simplicity mastered.

But it takes a lot of work to get there. For B2B marketers, the challenge is how to use all the data we gather to create simple, memorable experiences that actually solve problems, not create more.

B2B marketing often starts with complex subjects, then piles on the complexity with multiple channels, messages and metrics. Clients (and agencies) can get so deep we don’t even see how complex we make it for customers.

But when you focus on keeping it simple, coming from a place of care and understanding, clients will find honesty and courage in the work. Those ideas stand the test of time and remain in the memories of those who encounter them.

And then of course, there’s ROI … tracking … measurement …

Don’t let them bury your creativity.

This post was edited from the original version for clarity and context. 

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