You’ve heard of the design principle KISS: “Keep It Simple Stupid” or “Keep It Short and Simple.” Did you know that the term was coined by Kelly Johnson, lead engineer at Lockheed Skunk Works, creators of the U2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes, among other things?
The fact is that ANY system—whether it’s a spy plane or a marketing environment—works better when it’s kept simple. Let’s look at a few ways of applying the KISS principle in your marketing environment.
Solve for the 90th percentile.
I often use this expression with clients: “solve for the 90th percentile.” Here’s what I mean. Some clients want to dive into building incredibly complex and sophisticated environments, whether for lead scoring, nurturing or whatever. They want to delve into every imaginable case they might encounter and try to accommodate it. This approach, though, is expensive, difficult, and takes a long time! And we find that most people are so anxious to get started using their new systems that they end up cutting corners in development that shouldn’t be cut, which leads to poor results.
The better approach is a solution that addresses the majority—that “90 percent”—of the problem: a simple foundation for later additions. When you focus your energy and resources on building this solid foundation, you can get it done more quickly, with less effort, and at lower costs. Then, you can accommodate that final 10 percent of the problem by adding extra layers of sophistication and complexity.
For example, when starting a lead nurturing program, I recommend implementing just a few tracks to speak to specific verticals, roles, or functions. Don’t bite off more than you can chew by delving into advanced concepts like personas before you even have one nurture under your belt! By starting simply, with a realistic view of what you can easily accomplish, you set yourself up for success rather than failure. Get some experience with nurturing and gain some confidence, THEN begin to add the “fancy touches” like persona-specific tracks, dynamic content, action triggers and more.
It’s simpler to focus on the right thing than on the latest thing.
Technology innovations are exciting, and it’s natural to eagerly grasp at a powerful new idea that could drive better results or save time. For example, you can choose from many types of lead scoring models: interest only, two-dimensional, predictive, and more. But just because it is sophisticated and advanced doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for your circumstances: don’t decide to implement a two-dimensional model just because you saw a great presentation! In fact, this is one of the most important things we do in a DemandGen lead scoring engagement: assess the environment to determine the most appropriate model to implement.
In such a case, we’d most likely recommend that you start more slowly and steadily. Maybe an interest-only model is the right choice. Or if you choose a two-dimensional model for fit and interest, look at your fit criteria in very broad strokes unless your business truly requires very granular qualifications. A succinct, simple set of qualification criteria has several benefits:
- easier to manage and maintain
- can be supported by a less complex data capture strategy
- is typically much more effective with prospects: for example, forms with fewer fields convert at a higher rate (Eloqua benchmark data 3Q 2011).
Simplicity helps you make friends and influence people.
Today, as a solutions architect with DemandGen, I design and implement systems for clients. But I’ve also worn that marketing operations hat, so I know how the introduction of new processes and systems across pillars of an organization is often met with a healthy dose of skepticism, particularly from our Sales friends across the aisle. “Oh, you’re going to make my life better, eh?” So you’re already at a disadvantage. . .and if that system then turns out to be overly complicated and hard to comprehend, it will really leave a bad taste in the mouths of those you’re trying to support.
Construct new systems and processes with attention to simplicity and ease of use. You’ll benefit from increased adoption, and you’ll get more support when you want to make future enhancements.
Less is more: simplicity = scalability.
Simplicity allows for greater scalability in the future. For example, our team performs quite a bit of data normalization as part of developing nurture programs, especially when trying to help define function and role based on title. Many times when we get into a client database we see very messy results of past attempts to do this by slicing the database into many, many, MANY functions. You can imagine the scope of trying to identify every single function as part of the programmatic design we build! If we design and implement something that is overly complex, it becomes difficult to scale up effectively. A simple approach gives you far more flexibility for expanding and enriching systems in the future.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” –Leonardo da Vinci
Simplicity should always be your goal. As modern marketers, our powerful tools and systems can do so much—IF we avoid overcomplicating the ways in which we leverage them.
Tom Svec, Solutions Architect, develops world-class marketing automation solutions such as lead scoring and nurturing, analytical systems and processes, and more for DemandGen clients. With deep experience in marketing analytics, campaign execution, sales and marketing alignment, demand generation and lead management tactics, honed over 10 years of B2B and B2C marketing operations experience, Tom is able to bring the perspectives of both the marketer and the salesperson to the table. Tom is certified as an Eloqua Master and an Eloqua Revenue Lifecycle Master, and is a Marketo Certified Technical Consultant.