Stephen Hawking on Marketing

The late, great Stephen Hawking was a noted theoretical physicist and author whose book, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes became an improbable bestseller.  The reason?  Hawking was really good at explaining complex ideas in a way that the average person could understand.

But the truly remarkable thing is that Hawking accomplished the bulk of his life’s work, which was massive, while all but immobilized by motor neurone disease.  And when he was diagnosed in 1963, his doctors gave him two years to live.  He passed away in March of this year, 53 years after his doctors (all of whom he outlived) said he would.

So there’s a lesson or two here for marketers.  When you can only type 15 words per minute – and eventually a single word per minute – it makes you very selective, choosing your words carefully and using only what you need.  And when you believe time is severely limited, you embrace simplicity and clarity.

Now think about how placing limitations on what you do could improve your marketing.  You may already have financial limitations, especially if your marketing budget has been reduced.  What kinds of tactics could you use that require a lower investment but might be even more effective in getting your message out?

Try asking yourself this.  If you suddenly couldn’t use any of your current marketing channels to get your message out, what would you do?  What new tactics would you try?

Now go a step further.  If you had to make everything you did 50% shorter – every email, every ad, every billboard, all your web copy – what would you lose?  How could you trim everything down and still keep your core message intact?

Finally, if you could only tell prospects one thing about you – give them a single reason to choose you over your competitors – and you had to do it in as few words as possible, what would you tell them?  Remember that it has to be focused on them, not you.  And it has to offer a clear benefit that they can’t get from anyone but you.

Hawking, without the use of most of his body, wrote over a dozen books, advanced our understanding of black holes, showed how relativity and quantum mechanics were interconnected, had three children and appeared in countless films and TV shows.  Let’s go.