Why Simple is Always Better

There is a great problem solving principle that was crafted during the 13th and 14th centuries. Attributed to William of Ockham, an English Friar, is Occam’s Razor. When confronted with multiple options the simplest alternative is generally correct. If William of Ockham was born today, I would expect that he would be in marketing!

Occam's Razor

Those of you who have seen The Big Bang Theory will be familiar with this concept. Whenever you are faced with multiple options, whether they are past causes for your current situation or possible future outcomes, the simplest choice is usually the right one.

I had never thought about this concept in relation to marketing before. There are so many variables in any campaign that the number of possible outcomes are unfathomable. Weather. Temperature. Competitor’s actions. International crises. Last minute celebrity news. Even, the release of a new whirlwind app. All of these variables, and many more, can completely change the outcome of a planned campaign in any direction. So when the number of outcomes is this large, how can Occam’s Razor help when you can’t even count the options.

But what if this concept is used from the other end?

Consumers make thousands of choices every day. From when they get up, to what they eat for lunch, which train they catch in the morning, the route they take to work and what advertising they notice. But when it comes to choosing a product or service, they are often presented with a fathomable few to choose from.

Here is where Occam’s Razor comes in.

Simplicity, in its true sense, does not necessarily make a product or service more likely to be picked over its competitors. There are certain categories where we are looking for something complicated with depth and substance. Take theatre for example. Nobody wants to pay $135 to see a simple show. But simplicity is essential for the marketing!

Simplicity leads to a quicker (and more confident) understanding. Understanding leads to a lack of risk. And this lack of risk is exactly what every consumer is looking for.

When faced with three options for entertainment, we are more likely to choose the option where we can guarantee we have an understanding of the experience and can be sure we are not completely risking our monetary and timely investment. Hence, simplicity is key. If an offer is too ambiguous or difficult to wrap your head around, then the risk is often too high to engage.

We all use Occam’s Razor subconsciously when making these decisions because while we might like a bit of risk we want to be certain that we will enjoy the experience (or that the product meets our needs). So if you don’t want your offer to be shaved from the pack, maybe it is time to start thinking about simplicity.