from Marketing Memetics, by Michael Taylor
Instinctively we try to add more to things to make them better. Studies show we overlook opportunities to subtract to solve a problem, even when advantageous. This is such a common bias, we have phrases like ‘less is more’, ‘addition by subtraction’ and ‘break down barriers’ to remind us to correct for it. Adding things often just adds confusion and complexity. Millward Brown provides evidence that the more messages you try and communicate in your advertising, the less likelihood there is of any single message being communicated. Other studies have found that making more than 3 claims in your advertising makes people sceptical of your offer - it suddenly seems too good to be true.
Often we have to cut back to move forward. Getting rid of mediocre ideas, unnecessary words, and design features that don’t ‘spark joy’, is what creates the space for new creativity to bloom. Be vigilant about “what got us here, but won’t get us there”, as Goldsmith calls it. Play what IDEO calls ‘the subtraction game’: when reviewing ads, ask questions like: What was once useful but is now in the way? What is adding needless friction? What is scattering your attention? Subtracting an element can turn a no into a ‘hell yeah’: after all, Han Solo is just a cowboy without a hat. Better than removing, is not adding it in the first place. As Drucker says, “There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all”.
41 Famous Peter F. Drucker Quotes
Hell Yeah or No
Most marketing is bad because it ignores the most basic data
Rule 6: Ask Yourself If It Sparks Joy
Scaling Up is a Problem of Both More and Less
Thread on Subtraction, Ethan Mollick
To Be Persuasive, Make Just Three Claims