Northwest Earth Institute courses have been used in the business community and at workplaces of all kinds since our founding in 1993. In fact, the first discussion course to take place was in a law office, setting the template for thousands of organizations to follow in gathering employees to discuss pressing environmental and social responsibility concerns. As the former Director of Business Partnerships for NWEI, I was particularly excited to find a communications blog, Change Conversations, where blogger Sally Kieny wrote about how NWEI’s discussion course on Voluntary Simplicity prompted a business group to reflect on how our written and verbal communications can be simplified through getting back to basics.  Read below for Sally’s reflections and find the full post here.

Recently I signed up for a discussion course entitled Voluntary Simplicity, offered by the Northwest Earth Institute. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but was intrigued at the thought of bringing more simplicity into my life. Immediately I was conjuring up ideas of clean and organized closets, a streamlined home office and less stuff in my life. And while I hope to reach that level of uber-organization in my personal life, I’ve also come to realize that this concept offers much for the marketing-communications world.

I think this particular quote on the course booklet says it all:

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”—Hans Hoffman

Think about it. Removing the clutter from your marketing, your written and verbal communications, is so important. It ensures that your message is clearly defined and to the point—and that’s essential if you want to be effective. It’s all about being focused and deliberate with your marketing...

Simplifying and Getting Back to Basics: We use a tool called a positioning worksheet to help our clients bring focus to their marketing activities and determine how they want to be perceived in the marketplace. Through a series of work sessions, we work with our clients to develop a statement that identifies the business they are in, the specific needs of their customers, who their competitors are and the unique benefits of our clients’ products or services. Using this statement, we are then able to evaluate all potential marketing activities (advertising, sponsorships, PR activities, etc.) to determine if a particular activity would support—or detract from—the client’s positioning. This tool simplifies and brings a clear focus to their marketing activities.

So the next time you find yourself weighing various advertising options or determining which trade shows to attend, ask yourself, with your positioning statement in hand: Is this activity taking my business where I want it to go? Will it meet the needs of my customers? Is this activity “on position” for us?

If you can’t answer “yes,” then ditch the activity and move on.

The bottom line: Simplicity can be a wonderful thing in your life and your work. Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Don’t try to do too much. Simplify to bring clarity, to discover what’s important and to be deliberate in your marketing activities.
A good reminder that simplicity can work in all areas of our lives…