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…or the greatness of simplicity. No matter.

Steve Martin credits his career taking off to the moment he decided in the early 70s to quit trying to do political humor and focus on just making people laugh. Simple enough, in the era of the Vietnam War and Watergate when everybody was trying to be funny and change the world. Werner Hertzog’s advice on how to be a great film director: “Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read.” Pretty simple. And Frank Gehry on greatness in architecture: Find yourself in what you do. Two words: sim ple!

I’ve been gorging on classes given by people at the top of their fields on The striking thing: as with Martin, Herzog, and Gehry, so many people ascribe their success to simple things.

Striking, yes, but not surprising. I’ve had this same experience: getting the simple things right in marketing is key. In fact, everything else can be right, but if you don’t get the simple stuff right, nothing happens. Convincing a contractor to sell trust first, and their new product second, gave their marketing traction. Convincing the University of Phoenix to open new campuses in nice buildings next to freeways with big UoP signs on them (because the only thing their profitable campuses had in common was nice buildings with big UoP signs on them next to freeways) helped them double revenue in two years (on a very big number).

Sometimes we believe a problem as seemingly complex as growing sales or becoming a successful comedian, architect, or film director should be complex. And we’d be wrong. This doesn’t mean it’s easy. But it just may be simpler than you think.

Hamilton Wallace is a Small Business Marketing Consultant and Reminder-In-Chief of simple things you already know but aren’t practicing.