Occam's Razor

One of the questions I get asked every day when it comes to social and content marketing is, "how do I know what to do" or put another way, "how do I know what to boost?"

In marketing, these might be the two questions marketers struggle with the most, however, the answer, it turns out might just be Occam's Razor.

William Ockham (the law is sometimes referred to as Ockham's Razor instead of Occam's) was a 14th-century friar who postulated that in the case that there are two explanations for something, it is the simplest that is usually the correct explanation.

In your life, this might be that your satellite dish went out.

One explanation could be that a man-sized eagle from Pluto is mad about no longer being from something classified as "a planet" and has decided that stopping you from watching Dancing With the Stars will be the best revenge.

A much simpler explanation would be that the wind has taken your dish down.

How does this work in content?

This past week I was speaking to a friend who is a pastor at our church, the week after Easter is a tough one because it almost has to be a stronger message than the Easter message since there tends to be a large influx of people to church that doesn't normally go.

In a surprising turn of events, if you get Easter right, they might come back. If they come back, you can't suck.

So, he was saying how it wasn't sure what he should do, I pointed out that there was a Facebook Live video from 6 am on Easter morning that had been seen by 1000 people and had reached nearly 3000.

This church has about 250 active members.

I said to him, I think that video has "raised its hand" and told you what you should speak about on Sunday. Because for me, the answer seemed obvious, but to him, he was struggling. He was struggling because he couldn't see it. You see, we all get far too close to the thing we care about and when you are that close, you can't make out any of the detail so you invent explanations that complicate your marketing.

Content is more ubiquitous than ever, every brand, every marketer, every agency will tell you that you need content.

They will tell you that you need to promote that content and they are not wrong.

But you need to know what type of content and that is where content moves from banal to sublime. You need to know when to promote it and to whom.

How do you define that type? You listen, you watch, to market to your customers instead of yourself.

When I worked in radio we spent a lot of time talking about what records to play - our demographic was 23-year-old females and at the time I had one female employee on my staff. This isn't unique, in the 2016 best Radio Program Directors in America there are only 2 females in the top 30 and 4 on the whole list.

It was vital that I wasn't playing records for me, I had to market to our customer or we would lose. We did that by listening to them, asking questions, taking the feedback and making marketing decisions. I learned early that I am not a paying customer, you might pay to keep the lights on, but your actual customer is the one you need to reach and they are talking all of the time these days.

We just need to listen.

Once you start listening, you will see Occam's Razor everywhere. Once you understand that the trick isn't to gain an audience, it is to keep and convert them - discovering what they want to see/hear/read/consume will become second nature.

In the digital space, there is a new interface, new platform, and new data point about every hour and that can distract you. That distraction can become a din and that din can push you into a deadline. Once you are running against the clock, you have already lost the ability to sit and listen because you need to react, not to act.

I have a friend who paraphrases the infamous "paralysis by analysis" or the idea that you are going to investigate every possible variable to make sure you don't miss anything - and then you miss everything.

The simplest answer is usually the correct one.

Or put on with a bit of southern charm...

Keep it simple, stupid.

Eric HultgrenComment