The Secret to Simplicity: Customers and Community

The Secret to Simplicity: Customers and Community


The simplest toys are the most appealing to kids. My boys have many toys (all gifts), yet the things, other than iPads and iPhones, they want to play with the most are tupperware containers, balls, books and blocks. The more complex yet exciting things are left collecting dust.

And the same goes for products. The simplest products have the largest adoption rate (Think Dropbox, Evernote, Hip chat, Instagram). The truth is that when it comes to customer acquisition, all you need to do is K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

Simplicity is the Hardest Thing to Create

Apple’s products are known for their emphasis on design. Utter Macbook or iPad and the words “clean”, “simple” and “intuitive” come to mind. Their minimalistic design accomplishes a few things. It solves a lot of visual problems for the user, making it a shining example of service-based design (the iPad is a powerful tool that didn’t even need a manual).

Plus their sleek look make their products a must-have for a certain kind of person. Apple products still provide a certain cultural cache. And it visually broadcasts the message of Apple’s entire philosophy–simple design for a product that is easy-to-use. Because of these reasons, people are willing to invest time and money for simplicity. But if that horrible Steve Jobs movie showed us anything it’s that, creating that simplicity is more than a labor of love.

“Making anything easier is key to creating a great product experience”, explains Dan Martell on his blog.Tweet: “Making anything easier is key to creating a great product experience” - Dan Martell

The same goes for onboarding flows. The quicker the onboarding, the better. The timing is crucial in gaining and retaining customers. The fewer steps it takes for a user to get onto a platform or into an app, the more conversions increase. And for every additional step, or field, one must complete, the larger the drop off rate. Simplicity is essential if you want to provide the user with a positive experience.

Keeps You Focused on the Customer

Even though simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve, it reaps many rewards, like freeing up your time so you become a company that focuses on the customer. Mailchimp does one thing well–they make making email newsletters easy. And as an early-stage startup that didn’t have room in their budget for marketing, they decided to be innovative with their marketing strategy and aim their passion at their customers. Their marketing model goes as follows:

  1. Love your customers.

  2. Focus on the customers you have now, and keeping them around.

  3. Let your existing customers spread your brand for you.

Even their traditional marketing methods are in sync with their renegade approach. Instead of using billboards to attract new customers, they use them to humor existing customers. Opting to only display their logo, creating an inside joke that their customers can enjoy. It makes their existing audience feel like they are part of an exclusive club and like they are special.

As entrepreneur and CEO of Bonobos Andy Dunn said in this Medium post: “Consumers don’t need many things from your brand —they just need one thing from your brand. You may want them to need everything from your brand, but guess what: consumers don’t care what you want. Your job is to care about what they want, not what you want them to want. The difference between the two is the distance between a customer-centric company and an ego-centric company.”

Lets You Build a Community

The third step of Mailchimp’s marketing plan (if you can call it that) is “let your existing customers spread your brand for you.” The emphasis here is the need to build a community of users that eventually become brand advocates. In the words of Techcrunch reporter Natasha Lomas, shut up about all that [adding on services] until you have built a community that cares.

If you’re only concerned with complicating your business–tacking on services and products–it’s your customer that gets left in the dust. Which is a shame because, without a community, any marketing plans you have will go kaput. But if you keep it simple and focus on the customer, you can spend the energy you would’ve spent on complicating your product and put it into building a community. The result: Users who end up doing the marketing for you.

Do you agree with our argument? Let us know in the comments.

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What do you think?

One Comment

Great article. Building a community and caring about what the customer wants is number one…without that there is no trust abd you are no more than a greasy car salesman.