stop treating customers as though they are stupid

Your Customers Aren’t Stupid: Stop Marketing To Them That Way

Gee RanasinhaMarketing

Your customers are a lot smarter than you may think. So stop talking down to them.

Do you think your customers are dumb?

I don’t mean if they’re not able to speak. I mean do you think that your customers are ignorant, unintelligent – or downright stupid?

Hopefully you’ve answered no. Oh, and by the way if you haven’t answered no then you’ve got far bigger problems with your business than your marketing not working.

So, if we agree that you don’t think your customers are dumb, then why on earth are you speaking to them as though they are?

In a world where vying for customer attention is perhaps the single largest challenge facing businesses today, the general consensus is that companies should aim to simplify their communication as much as possible.

The rationale is that a simple, tightly-focussed message is more likely to hit its target than something that more convoluted, technical or cerebral. That a piece of communication that gets straight to the point, bereft of waffle, hyperbole or jargon will resonate better due to the general consumer trend of shorter attention spans – in turn, a result of the greater value that we all place on our time.

Being Simple vs. Being Simplistic

While all of this may be true, the problem is that many businesses have ended up confusing being simple, with being simplistic.

Being “simple” is about being understood quickly and easily by using the right words and phrases, by the use of visuals and/or sounds, or by a combination of all of the above. It’s imparting your message without all those hearts and flowers with which we used to embellish our communications because it was thought to be the “right” way to do those things.

Being “simplistic”, in contrast, crosses over to becoming patronizing. It’s assuming that your audience won’t understand what you’re saying unless you dumb it down to death.

Customers Aren’t Stupid.
They Often Know More Than You Do

The reality, from where I’m standing, is far from the case. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Today’s easy and instantaneous availability of information means not only do customers often know more than they ever used to. They frequently know more than you do.

Keeping your communication on track and on target is still important. But dumbing things down as a result is insulting.

Customers get it. Really, they do. They understand stuff. They’re more clued-up than you think. They’re more clued-up than they think.

Customers’ baseline knowledge on a particular subject is higher than ever before. They don’t want content dumbed-down, or sugar-coated. They want real, pertinent and relevant information designed to help them make a decision. An informed decision. Sure, that information should be presented in as easy to digest form as possible. But not by pulling punches, insulting their intelligence and ultimately leaving them unsatisfied.

The next time you’re called to prepare a piece of business communication – a web page, presentation, article, video or brochure – try raising the content bar in terms of how you’re explaining your message. Keep it simple by all means, but not simplistic.

Think of them less as customers, and more as peers.

About the Author
Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha is CEO and founder of KEXINO. He's been a marketer since the days of 56K modems, lectures on marketing and behavioral economics at two European business schools, and was noted as one of the top 100 global business influencers by (those wonderful people who make financial software).

Originally from London, today Gee lives in a world of his own in Strasbourg, France, tolerated by his wife and teenage son.

Find out more about Gee at Follow him on X/Twitter at KEXINO, on Facebook at, or on LinkedIn at


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