Minimalist Marketing: Employing ‘Less Is More’ in Business

I’ve been writing this column for a long time now, but I do believe
this is the first time I have used a 19th-century poem. According to the Phrase
Finder website, “Less is more” is a 19th-century proverbial phrase
that was first found in print in Andrea del Sarto, an 1855 poem by Robert

“Who strive — you don’t know how the others strive

To paint a little thing like that you smeared


Carelessly passing with your robes afloat, —

Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,

(I know his name, no matter) — so much less!

Well, less is more, Lucrezia.”

The poem wasn’t the inspiration for this column. A wedding
invitation we received is the inspiration for this column. I just happened to
learn about the poem when researching “less is more.” If you’ve
heard/read me say, “Marketing is marketing” once, you’ve
heard/read me say it a million times. But it’s true!

Simple wedding invitation

I walked in the door last night after returning from the Alabama
Orthotic & Prosthetic Association meeting in Birmingham, Ala., and Tom
handed me what looked like a business card and said, “My cousin’s
stepdaughter is getting married in Oklahoma in September and I want to
go.” For real. I was floored. Why? If you know Tom, you know he is
seriously averse to anything to do with weddings and that includes attending
them. He’d rather go to a funeral than a wedding. I am not kidding. I
think he breaks out in hives just seeing an invitation in the mail. My opinion?
PTWS: posttraumatic wedding syndrome. Anyway, what was so compelling about this
invitation that made him want to go? It had to be “less is more.”

As I said, the invitation was the size of a business card. On the front,
it had the date, Sept. 7, 2011, the words, “Yeah, a Wednesday!” in
parentheses, the first names of the couple, a picture of the two of them, the
address and times of the ceremony and reception. On the back, it had the RSVP
date, email address and a Web address “to view your video
invitation.” That was it. No tissue paper, no RSVP card, no fancy envelope
addressed in calligraphy, no inner envelope, no reception information card, no
map, no thingy that lists where they are registered, no ribbons.

When I asked Tom if he’d watched the video, he said no. What? He
was making plans to go, and he hadn’t even watched the video. The fact
that the invitation was the complete antithesis of a typical wedding invitation
piqued his interest to attend his cousin’s stepdaughter’s wedding in
Oklahoma on a Wednesday in September. That is some seriously effective
marketing. “Less is more.”

Directing clients to ‘more’

I, of course, watched the video. It was great. It was titled, “From
A to B and Your Invitation to C. Dave and Chelsea’s Wedding Invitation.
Our story of how we went from friends to more than friends and your invitation
to share our wedding day with us as we become more than more than friends. All
the important information is printed on the card you received in the mail.
Love, Dave & Chels.” That was it.

The video told, in a very entertaining and creative way, the history of
their relationship and repeated the details listed on the “business
card” in 3 minutes and 21 seconds. Totally awesome.

What if you didn’t have a two-, four-, six-page full-color
brochure? What if you just had a business card with the bare essentials and a
link to a super cool video that didn’t just tell, but showed in a very
creative way, everything you wanted people to know about your business? What if
you used minimalist marketing?

Elizabeth Mansfield

Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing
Solutions. She can be reached at

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