Skip to content

Simple is Sticky

The product that's the easiest to understand wins.

Fred Perrotta
Fred Perrotta
2 min read

Table of Contents

I work in a category where marketing tends toward complexity: number of features, number of pockets, hidden features, hidden pockets.

Years ago, we had the idea that the product which was the easiest to understand would win.

Not necessarily the simplest product, but the product that was the easiest to understand. "Simplest to understand" was a function of the positioning and the copy, not just the product.

Simpler is easier to understand. Easier to understand is easier to remember (and more likely to be remembered). Simple is sticky.

I've always been skeptical of Kickstarter projects touting their number of features.

Number of features isn't a feature.

That pitch is about the product, not the customer. Having more features inn't a benefit. If anything, needing more features (or complexity) to solve the same problem is a detriment.

Dieter Rams noted this in his Ten Principles for Good Design:

Good design is as little design as possible. Less, but better — because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.

While the features-driven approach works well on Kickstarter, selling that way elsewhere will be a challenge.

Even if someone reads all twenty features listed on your product page, they won't remember them. More than a few is too many to remember.

The more features you list, the harder they are to remember. Listing more features makes the customer's buying decision harder, not easier. You can't sell by overwhelming your customer.

I struggle with this at Tortuga. Our travel backpacks have tons of pockets and features. But, we know from reviews and surveys that our customers place the most value on four features:

  1. Carry-on-size
  2. Organization
  3. Comfort
  4. Durability

That's it. The rest are distractions.

Even four feels like too many to be sticky. We mostly focus on the first two. Less important features, like locking zippers, may get a passing mention on the product page but are never featured in emails or marketing copy.

Tip: If you need help analyzing your reviews, try this Text Analyzer tool. Export all of your reviews as plain text or a CSV. Then paste the text into the tool. The Text Analyzer will output the most common phrases by number of words. Use those words (your customers' words) in your marketing copy and on your PDP.

I recently read through all of the reviews of our Outbreaker Laptop Backpack. Reviewers talked exclusively about two things:

  1. Organized
  2. Fits under the seat

That's it.

I had to refocus the copy for that page on those two benefits. Then I shut up. I stopped writing.

Trying to cram in more would only cost us sales. You have to know when to stop. Or, better yet, know when to refrain from mentioning another benefit and instead reiterate a more important benefit to make it stick. Reinforcing an important benefit with a photo, customer review, or an award is more valuable than listing another benefit.

Keep it simple.

Repeat it.

Make it stick.