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In 1657, the collection “Lettres Provinciales” was published in France. One of the missives was by mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, and included the oft-quoted line:

Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.

You might know this better as:

I have made this [letter] longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”

As lines go, it’s a belter, and remains in use because it hits at the core of something deeper. Simplicity is hard.

This struck me the other day when conducting a content audit for a new client. I feel like we all know best practice when it comes to our digital marketing, and yet it’s still so tough to get right.

  • Your goals need to be clearly defined.
  • Your website needs to be quick, clear and easy to navigate.
  • Your web copy needs to be focused.
  • Your client personas need to be detailed, because the more you know about your audience, the better.
  • Your sales processes must be aligned with your marketing activity.
  • Your content needs to be valuable to your audience.
  • Your distribution needs to be consistent.

And yet, we all struggle.

There are a couple of things at play here.

The first is a desire to just get going. We’re inherently impatient, and content offers a low barrier to entry. You write, and you’re away. Problem is, lack of planning means your work will be unfocused. Without a great website or a conversion plan in place, you’re leading the audience to an empty circus tent which should, instead, be full of wonder.

The second is that doing the strategy work can be expensive and painful. Making improvements to the website certainly is, as is audience research. Aligning marketing and sales processes can be, auditing the site certainly is. It all takes time and money.

The simplicity of knowing what to do does not make it simple to do.

And there’s a second lesson from Pascal.

You can make it up as you go along. Pascal’s letter still made sense, after all.

However, his letter could have been so much more impactful if he’d have taken the time to focus his thoughts and craft his copy properly.

The same is true of your marketing. Simple.