THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST
In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to Marketing Entrepreneur, Educator, & Author, Ben Guttmann.
In a world filled with constant noise and messaging, Ben emphasized the importance of simplicity. He explained that effective messages are simple and easy to understand. Fluent messages that require less mental load tend to perform better in terms of trust, likability, and buying behavior.
Ben mentioned Apple as a prime example when asked about brands that excel in simple messaging. Apple effectively communicates benefits rather than focusing on features, contrasting with Microsoft's struggles in marketing their Zune product.
He also explored the power of simple messaging in branding and communication. Successful slogans like Apple's “A thousand songs in your pocket” and FedEx's “when it has to Be There Overnight” resonate with customers because they are concise, relatable, and empathetic.
Ben shared a personal story about his dentist, who used a simple and relatable line, “You only have to floss the teeth you want to keep,” which motivated him to start flossing regularly. This example highlights the power of empathy and direct communication in influencing behavior.
Ben offers a wealth of resources on his website, including a weekly email newsletter with exciting ideas and downloads. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn. Ben is a wellspring of knowledge with his experience as a speaker, teaching marketing at Baruch College, and speaking at various meetups, corporations, non-profits, and conferences.
Key Points from the Episode:
- Importance of simplicity in messaging and communication
- Five principles for achieving simplicity in design: benefit to the receiver, focus on one thing at a time, stand out from noise, empathy for the audience, minimalism
- Editing process and conveying the message immediately in book titles and covers
- Examples of brands with simple messaging: Apple vs Microsoft
- Power of simple and straightforward messaging in branding and communication
- Examples of successful slogans
- Application of simple messaging in personal relationships
- The target audience for the book “Simply Put”: leaders, entrepreneurs, advocates, faith leaders
- Resources available on Ben's website: newsletter, downloads, LinkedIn connection
About Ben Guttmann:
Ben Guttmann is a seasoned marketing professional, educator, and author dedicated to unraveling the motivations behind human behavior. With a wealth of experience running a successful marketing agency, teaching at Baruch College, and collaborating with major brands, Guttmann emphasizes the power of simplicity in winning ideas.
Founder of the award-winning marketing agency Digital Natives Group, Guttmann's journey began with local businesses. It evolved into partnerships with notable entities like the NFL, Comcast NBCUniversal, and The Nature Conservancy.
In addition to teaching marketing to aspiring professionals at Baruch College since 2014, Guttmann has contributed to major publications like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He's a sought-after speaker at conferences and events, having organized the successful Queens Tech Night meetup series.
Beyond his professional endeavors, Guttmann has served on the boards of influential organizations such as the Long Island City Partnership and the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
His commitment to exploring new ideas, advising clients, and blending technology with humanity defines his current focus. Guttmann's impactful career underscores the significance of clear and direct messaging in a distracted world.
3:49 – “Marketing is actually kind of simple. We have the vessel and we have the content. The vessel is all that stuff.”
8:03 – “Nobody is reading your diet book and also knows what you had for breakfast that morning, but they'll read your book about communication and other.”
9:33 – “It's not about what the features are, it's about what the benefits are. The thousand songs in your pocket.”
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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, it's Ben Guttmann. Ben, you are the author of the book. Simply put, why clear messages when and how to design them? You're also an adjunct professor, and you do some consulting as well. Ben, it's great to have you here.
Ben (00:01:14) - Thanks for having me, Josh. It's great to be here.
Josh (00:01:16) - And I'm so excited to talk about your book. And I couldn't agree with you more. In a world where we are inundated with noise and most often, you know, again, we kind of work with a lot of folks that are out there promoting their message or out there promoting their offer or what they do. You know, I think that there's often a disconnect, you know, between particularly when we're empathetic to that audience that is just exhausted with just an endless supply of noise being foisted upon them.
Ben (00:01:53) - Oh, absolutely. The average American consumes about 13 hours of media a day. Mean that is a lot. Right. We are bombarded by thousands and thousands of messages, ones that we asked for in terms of emails and our social media and our articles are read as well as plenty we haven't asked for, which is what a lot of us are in the business of doing, which is advertising and marketing and, you know, political slogans or advocacy slogans, all these things. It just is more and more and more every year, and it's harder for us to break through.
Josh (00:02:21) - Yeah. Well, let's talk about this concept of simplicity. Would you mind maybe just kind of setting the stage for us?
Ben (00:02:29) - Absolutely. So the book, simply put, why clear messages when and how to design them? If you only read the first page, you kind of get a piece of it, which is the question that has driven me in my work, in my teaching has always been, why do some messages work when others don't? Why do some ad campaigns work when others fall flat? Why do some political slogans rally a nation and others don't? Why do some emails and pitches and proposals sell and others don't? And it turns out that the answer is simple. Quite literally, the messages that are effective are simple. And if that's enough, you know, look, the book's 208 pages, I say on the first page, you know, it's a book about simplicity. It sounds like I didn't take my own advice. It could have just. But if that's enough, great. But it turns out once you peel back the cover, that simplicity, the science of the why is really interesting.
Ben (00:03:20) - And the business of the how is also something that we can all learn from.
Josh (00:03:26) - Yeah. You know, there is there's this I think we a lot of us have this inclination is that if we can just get people to consume more words from us that somehow we win or somehow that will be the path to conversion. I mean, it sounds like it makes sense, right? You know, we're earning proximity together. We're earning more time together. But is that not the case?
Ben (00:03:49) - Well it certainly exposure is helpful, right? Like if you look at all of these arenas we're talking about a lot of times, you know, making sure we have enough contacts as an important part of marketing, of sales of politics or whatever. What I'm concerned about a little more is in the messaging itself, in the so that's all I break it out into saying. Marketing is actually kind of simple. We have the vessel and we have the content. The vessel is all that stuff. It's the hey, we're going to, you know, do this retargeting ad, hey, we're going to do this Instagram sponsored content.
Ben (00:04:18) - Hey, we're going to do the Super Bowl ad. That's the vessel. It's a lot of work. A lot of professionals work in that I'm more focused on the content, which is, okay, what are we saying in that? And what's important is that if you look at the science, if you look at the statistics, look the history messages that are easier, that are more fluent, that's the cognitive science term, more fluent, they tend to perform better in every attribute. There's something that we like more. There's something that we trust more, something more likely to buy is when things are fluent and they take less mental load for us to get into our heads and things. On the other end of the spectrum, things that make us sweat, things that are complicated, that take a lot of work, a lot of thinking. We have a host of negative reactions to don't trust them, don't like them, don't buy them. And if we're in the business of persuading, of informing, we always want our stuff to be in the other category, not in a negative bucket.
Josh (00:05:13) - Yeah, well, I guess let's let's think about maybe some things that folks could do, something that might be actionable, that might provide clarity and simplicity to what we're already communicating. Any suggestions on maybe a course of action?
Ben (00:05:30) - So I have identified five principles that we can all use as design tools to allow us to be simple. And that's my background. I'm a designer by trade. I'm a designer. I've worked in running an agency for ten years, and so that's what I looked at. I was saying like, how do we take this problem and how do we solve it using using this skill? And there's five principles. It's not a checklist. It's not a step by step. But if you are able to hit more of these, you're going to be on your path to becoming more fluent, more simple, more successful. Number one is beneficial. What does your message matter to the receiver? What's in it for them? Features versus benefits kind of sales 101 type stuff. Number two is focused.
Ben (00:06:14) - Are you trying to say one thing or you're trying to say multiple things at the same time? Priority. The word priority is singular, by the way. Salient number three does your message stand out from the noise? Does it rise to your attention? Does it zig when everybody else is zagging? Is it different? Does it have contrast? Number four is empathetic. Are you speaking in the language that your audience understands? Are you meeting them where they are emotionally, what their motivations are? That's a vital component. And then lastly, and these are not in order, but the reason this one is at the end is it's minimal. Is it everything you need, but only what you need? Have you cut out everything that isn't important? And when we talk about minimal, by the way, this is not about the fewest number of words, the fewest number of sentences or paragraphs or pages. It is about the least amount of friction. That's the user experience. Design terms, friction. We don't want people to have to work for our stuff because they're not going to.
Ben (00:07:13) - And every time we give somebody that bump in the road, it ends up being the off ramp they go and they say, hey, you know, I got 13 hours of other messages that are bombarding my brain every day. I'm going to go pay attention to that instead of your message.
Josh (00:07:25) - Yeah, I know that there's quotes out there about how easy it is to say something, right? But to say it succinctly can be a challenge, like giving a speech. You know, it's like, you know, I think we could all say a lot of words, but, you know, condensing it down to the, to the most critical message that that audience needs to hear. That's tough. It's editing it down. And would imagine you experience some of this in your own book, like what was the editing process for? Simply put.
Ben (00:07:54) - I've never had more pressure than selecting the title and the cover and the back cover copy for this book, because you know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover.
Ben (00:08:03) - This is a book you should judge by its cover. If it doesn't convey what I wanted to convey immediately, then I have failed in taking my own advice as part of this. That was a very laborious part of the process, was analyzing every single pixel, every single word on that. So yeah, if anybody is thinking about writing a book, this is a fun topic. I really enjoyed it. I don't recommend writing a book about this, because every single thing you do is going to be analyzed to make sure that you are also following this simplicity. We worked with a number of clients over the years that they would write books and about, about nutrition and exercise and diet leadership. Nobody is reading your diet book and also knows what you had for breakfast that morning, but they'll read your book about communication and other. Is this a good book? This is this. This is a person who had to communicate. So, yeah, it was a very intense process.
Josh (00:08:55) - Yeah. Who are some brands out there that are really good at simple messages and simple branding? Easy to like.
Josh (00:09:04) - You get it, you understand it. And I don't know if you have any examples of maybe notorious examples of, you know, messages. Maybe they didn't work so well because it was just like, what?
Ben (00:09:16) - Oh, yeah, I mean, there's a ton of these, and I try to actually pull ones that are marketing related and ones that are not marketing related. It's cliche to use Apple as an example because they're just so good. They're an outlier. And actually my class, I ban my students from using Apple's examples because it's just it's too easy.
Josh (00:09:32) - Too easy. Yeah.
Ben (00:09:33) - But it's hard to think of a better illustration of benefits than the way Apple talked about the iPod when it was first introduced. They didn't talk about it has this many gigabytes as as many pixels as, you know, as much megahertz from the chip. They said it's a thousand songs in your pocket. It's not about what the features are, it's about what the benefits are. The thousand songs in your pocket. And at the same time, Microsoft is stumbling over and over again and they they have this Zune, which if anybody remembers that it was a horrible product and it was music the way it wants to be.
Ben (00:10:05) - Right. That was one of their many slogans they had for it. It doesn't make any sense. It's just a bunch of nice words that you're putting together. But a thousand songs in your pocket. Concrete, simple, beneficial, simple. And my other favorite one that I like to bring up when I talk about both an example of salience and empathy. But I think it's maybe a little bit more the empathy. Fedex for years, when they first launched, what was their slogan? It is when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. They didn't say, you know, hey, overnight shipping guaranteed. Or they didn't. They didn't talk like a stiff brand. They talked like a person. But it absolutely, positively it has to be though overnight. That is how you can imagine their customer who's somebody sitting in an office somewhere is what they're saying right now. I can imagine how that's how they're talking. So those two, I think, are great examples that illustrates some of these elements.
Josh (00:10:53) - Yeah, I still remember that Fedex man I have an association with what is Fedex. Oh that's when it absolutely. You know regardless I mean I've used the post office. I've used ups I use them all the time. But you know, it's like when it's life or death, it's like it's going on Fedex. I'd, you know, just because again, good, good branding, good marketing, good messaging. So let's think of maybe why this might be helpful in our personal lives, in addition to maybe just professional examples, can you kind of explain why this might be a good adage for how we show up in relationships with our friends, family, and so forth?
Ben (00:11:29) - Definitely. I can tell you a story about my dentist, so I've always had bad luck of my teeth and go to my dentist one day after neglecting to go for a long time, I'm sitting there having some very painful procedure done and the dentist goes, well, you only have to floss the teeth you want to keep. I said, well, that's that is a good line.
Ben (00:11:49) - As soon as he said that starting that day have lost every day because that again talk about empathy met me where I was. Right. That's it's direct. It was different than everything else that I heard before. It's not saying, oh, use of floss twice daily below the gum line to prevent plaque buildup. All that's nice. All that makes sense. That's correct. But something that broke through was that sentence, which is you only have to floss the teeth you want to keep. And, you know, I put that up there with the Fedex one with the Apple one as a proof positive in the power of simple messaging.
Josh (00:12:23) - Yeah. So, Ben, you know, we kind of talked just a bit about the book. It's available on Amazon now and everywhere else. It's called simply put, white clear messages when and how to design them. Who should be reading this book and what would you expect the transformation to happen by the end of its reading and application?
Ben (00:12:42) - So the book. Yeah, certainly, it's available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble.
Ben (00:12:46) - Wherever books are sold, it is going to live on a business shelf. It's going to live in the marketing shelf of a bookstore. However, it is something that is broadly applicable to anybody who is a leader, who is an entrepreneur, who could be an advocate, a faith leader. Anybody that has some in some capacity has to inform or persuade. And that's a lot of us. That's almost everybody. And so, you know, I don't want to say, hey, the book's for everybody, but it's about if you want to become a better communicator. That's what this book is for.
Josh (00:13:16) - Yeah. I also want to, on your website, Ben Guttmann. So it's two T's, two ends. When folks go there, it looks like you have some pretty good resources along with three simple things message or email. Any other resources that you'd recommend?
Ben (00:13:33) - Yeah, I would say if anybody is interested in signing up, I'd love to have you on in my community there. I send an email every Tuesday.
Ben (00:13:40) - That is something for me, something from somebody else, and an interesting idea to think about. So those are the three simple things. I'd love that. It's free comes once a week, and there's a few other things you can check out on my on my website there if you're interested. Some different downloads or you can connect to me on LinkedIn and, you know, post share stuff there on a regular basis.
Josh (00:13:59) - You speak on this as well. Who do you speak for? And, you know, obviously I would hope the messaging is on again, kind of simplicity and communication. But do you want to share just a bit about your speaking experience?
Ben (00:14:11) - Absolutely. So I speak all the time because I am a adjunct professor of marketing at Baruch College, and I love that. If anybody's thinking about teaching, go teach. It's the best thing. So I'm very, very comfortable in experience doing that. I've also hosted a number of meetups. I've spoken to different meetups. I've I've presented different corporations and business groups and non-profits and conferences.
Ben (00:14:34) - I am passionate about sharing both the stuff in this book as well as other topics and I anyway, which I can do that if that's the written word. If that's getting up on stage, I'm happy to do that.
Josh (00:14:46) - You do some consulting as well?
Ben (00:14:48) - Absolutely. So I ran a marketing agency for ten years. It was a ton of fun. And I sold it, sold it about a year ago. And since then I've been working with a few select clients on different projects. And if you're interested in collaborating on something, please reach out for sure, but not like a big upsell here. Hopefully this is a book that a lot of people will enjoy, and if you want to keep in touch, you know, reach me on my email or reach me on LinkedIn. And this book is not meant to be something that is just trying to push people into, into some other kind of trap. So I hope that people enjoy it for what it is.
Josh (00:15:22) - It's the be all, end all.
Josh (00:15:23) - Ben Guttmann again, your book, simply put why clear messages when and how to design them. Your website Ben Guttmann Ben, thank you so much for joining us.
Ben (00:15:32) - Thanks for having me. Josh. This has been a blast.
Josh (00:15:40) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our Listener Facebook group. Just search for the Thoughtful Entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love, even if you just stopped by to say hi, I'd love to meet you. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. We love our community who listens and shares our program every day. Together we are empowering one another as thoughtful entrepreneurs. Hit subscribe so that tomorrow morning. That's right, seven days a week you are going to be inspired and motivated to succeed.
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