Have you ever had a conversation with someone who has zero spark or depth? How does that make you feel? Do you want to keep the conversation going or do you silently cry for help inside? Chances are that the only reason you might continue the interaction is either out of necessity or politeness.
That’s exactly the case with brands and artists in the new media. We are constantly online and get so much information about their activities that we might as well be married to them. Now imagine being in a relationship with someone who talks to you as if you’re stupid.
During a short span of being a digital marketer, I have been asked again and again to simplify my messaging for the audience. I get it; we are living at warp speed these days. The consumer has boat loads of information flooding in and you have to get your message across instantly. However, there is a fine line between simplifying and dumbing down of communication.
People tend to remember something when it’s, as Hubspot puts it – remarkable. Something that makes them stop and reflect, something that lets them make an effort before they have that “eureka” moment. As an audience, if you make a nanosecond worth of effort to decipher something you’ll probably remember it better.
In that context, I think we – the marketers – are guilty of two things:
Underestimating the audience’s intellect
“We are dealing with goldfish out there.” “Write as if you’re addressing a five-year-old.”
Some of the phrases you hear often in the creative industries. While this may be true for some target audience I do not believe it to be true for everyone. A lot of people appreciate a tickle to the imagination. As an audience, I do not want to be treated like I can’t comprehend subtle complexities and flares in messaging. I have faith that I am not alone.
When you take a risk and do develop clever and intelligent communication not everyone will find it pleasing, but the chunk of audience who does get it will instantly fall in love with you. These are the ones who become what are called your “quality leads.”
By repeatedly underestimating the audience’s ability to understand us, we not only lower their expectation of us but we also resort to producing bland and run of the mill communication.
When writing for 5-year-olds becomes a norm, I believe we are responsible for the mass dumbing down of humanity. On a micro level, yes it may serve the purpose; leads, sales, numbers etc. But looking at the bigger picture horrifies me. Explaining something to a child is way difficult than explaining it to an adult. We are conditioning ourselves to be cognitively lazy and it makes the jobs of creative professionals increasingly difficult.
So it all boils down to this; if we as humans are progressing, why must our communication take a U-turn. It took our ancestors a long time to develop language and intelligence. It is a luxury that only humans can enjoy. Let’s not be afraid to use it. Let’s not succumb to devolution.
Muhammad arifMay 30, 2017
YeseniaMay 30, 2017
OH MY GOD!!! Thank you so much for writing this. I have been reading blog after blog lately because I started blogging and I have to say, that some of them are way to simplistic. I know that they are writing for the masses, but it gets quite frustrating when the writing is juvenile st best. Than you for writing this. Very courageous.
TatjanaMay 30, 2017
As a fellow digital marketer, I totally hear you! One of the problems though is not that the marketers are trying to dumb everything down, but that advertising platforms like Google and Facebook requiring us to provide bite-sized information if we want to advertise on their platforms. Your post actually gives me a great idea: start collecting great ads, clever ads, funny ads. Watch out for my post on that. 🙂 Love your blog!
Masroor AhmadMay 30, 2017
Very nicely put.