8 Rules for Minimalist Marketing

by Joe Fontenot

8 Rules for Minimalist Marketing

Life is getting complicated.

Everything’s connected and everyone knows about everything. And with that come a lot of noice (and pressure).

The concepts of minimalism come as a reaction to the noise.

In short, minimalist marketing is a focused approach to reaching your audience in a way that keeps your good work in the forefront.

If your marketing has become bloated, or if you’re starting out and simply want to get it right, minimalist marketing is a good approach. (Neil Patel also has a great article on this.)

Here are the 8 rules for bringing minimalist marketing into your own business:

1. Start with a Plan

Your plan, or marketing strategy, is your road map. It outlines your finish line and how you’re going to get to it. Everyone gets off track. But when you do, having a plan will show you which way to go and how to get there.

Minimalist marketing is all about focus, so starting with a plan is key. In my company, we do this by taking landscape of how you shape up to your competitors and what already (or can potentially) offer that’ll make you stand out.

Without this step, it’s really a bunch of trial and error, which lasts until you run out of money.

2. Build Systems

A lot of minimalist marketing can run itself. If you’ve got a clear finish line, then it’s quite possible to build systems that take a lot of human load off. This is what allows you to take vacations (or handle other fires when they come up).

Systems can be sales funnels, data aggregation, google analytics, or anything else that works without you having to push buttons.

For instance, if you’ve got a great product and you can speak about it in a way that touches your customer’s pain points, that belongs in an email. If you don’t have a system that automatically talks to the right people at the right time about their needs, then you’re probably leaving out potential customers.

3. Hire people who don’t need supervision

If you have a clear finish line (#1) and good systems (#2), then you can hire people who don’t need to be managed. Their progress is measured clearly (and visibly).

The reason this matters is because minimalist marketing is not about marketing. It’s about you doing what you’re an expert in. If you’re having to manage a team and all of their work, then when are you going to focus on your actual work?

By hiring someone you can trust, you’ll see updates (when needed), but you’ll also have the tools yourself to check in when you want.

4. Don’t think cheap

While minimalism will often save you money, it’s not about that. It’s about purity, and using only what’s necessary.

Minimalist marketing takes this same outlook. Pareto’s principle says that 80% of the output comes from only 20% of the input. Minimalist marketing finds that 20% and amplifies it. It leave the extra 80%–the part with low yields–for others to mess with.

Doing this is saves the business money because it trims fat. A lot of it. But it’s not cheap. Cheap is the quick or easy or short-cut route (the route people talk about but never actually seem to find). Minimalist marketing is about precision.

5. Turn reports into sentences

Data, graphs, and spreadsheets have their place. And, if you’re the right kind of person, they can be a lot of fun.

But unless your company sells data, graphs, and spreadsheets, you’re probably spending too much time on them (or feeling guilty for not spending too much time on them).

Here’s the thing. You can covertly waste a lot of time on these things. Just ask yourself: what does this produce? What do these endless excel rows and pie charts actually do for my business?

In minimalist marketing, this data is still important, but it’s a middle step.

The final step is a sentence.

When you can turn a spreadsheet of numbers into a sentence, you’ve accomplished three things you didn’t have before:

  • Pruning. By distilling data to a sentence you’ve decided what’s important and what’s not. It’s easy to over-communicate when you’re staring at a lot of data.
  • Clear communication. By translating numbers to words, you are now able to speak to those outside. “Today, we’re 9% behind our targets, but we’re still on track to make that up by the end of the year, because our fourth quarter strategy will kick in next month.”
  • Finding the truth. Putting numbers into words has a way of pulling the truth out. You can hide inside numbers. A single statement: “we’ve leading market share by 24%, but we missed our target by 11%.” There’s good news, but something also went wrong (and needs to be fixed).

Until your reports look like this, nobody’s really using them. And if nobody’s using them, they’re not helping you.

6. Minimalist marketing can be understood by non-marketers

Because minimalist marketing is not about industry jargon or, even about marketing at all, it can be understood by non-marketers.

The reason is, marketing is a supporting role. It’s a spotlight. Without the star–your product or service–there’s no point. And so if your marketing doesn’t make sense to those not doing it, then it’s probably too complicated.

There’s a caveat here. Some technology is cumbersome, but it’s basic idea can still be understand.

Take, for instance, neural networks–an old idea finding new application today. This is the basis for artificial intelligence. In marketing, this can be watch data, find patterns, and auto-respond to customers.

The idea is straightforward. The technology isn’t. Minimalist marketing is not about only doing simple things. Instead, it’s about distilling complex processes into simple concepts.

7. Share platforms

Minimalist marketing has a lot in common with the open source movement. Open source is a programming philosophy that believes that information should be shared.

The power (from a marketing side) is that this produces strong word of mouth. Word of mouth is the hardest form of advertising to create, but it is, hands down, the most effective.

You share platforms by finding a symbiotic company. They tell their audience about your stuff, and you tell your audience about theirs.

But there’s a little more to it than that.

In order for this to work, you have to show your audience why this other business is worth their time. (If you don’t do that, you’re just advertising.)

In other words, you need to do something like partner with them.

When you show your audience your partner’s value, you’re allowing your partner to leverage the trust relationship you’ve built up with your audience. This works best when it’s free–because then you can say: we really believe in this company, you should too.

And, of course, it goes both ways. They do for you what you do for them.

8. Clarify your message

The last thing minimalist marketing will do is take the complexity out of your product or service.

If anyone could do what you do, then you wouldn’t have a business. The reason your customers need you is because they can’t do what you can do.

The problem then becomes: how do you do something difficult (a 9 or 10) but talk about it on a knowledge-level of your customer (a 1 or 2).

If you’re a financial investor who’s built up a network (over 20+ years), with an year-over-year above-market average of 3% yields and an A+ rating with Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and you specialize in helping sub-$5m businesses invest safely in international securities…

…then what your marketing really needs to say is:

We guide small businesses to wise financial investments.

If you don’t get your message to this point, the people you could be helping, won’t be listening. Simply put: people do not buy what they do not understand.

If you want to explore how minimalist marketing can work in your company

My company, Five Round Rocks, helps brands build a marketing strategy with real ROI so that they can get back to what they do best: making great products.

Here’s how it works:

First, we build a marketing plan that works for you. Then, we’ll put the right tools in your hands to execute the plan. And finally, we’ll guide you each step of the way so that you don’t have to do it alone.

Click here to schedule a call. I’d love to personally talk more with you about how we can help your business.