Marketing guru Ken Segall gives free talk on simplicity in Ann Arbor

Author and blogger Ken Segall is in Ann Arbor today to give a free public talk titled "Insanely Simple" at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., at 2 p.m.


Segall served as creative director at a number of the world's top ad agencies, including working directly with Steve Jobs for 12 years at NeXT and Apple. Segall also led the creative team behind Apple's "Think Different" campaign. Segall's two books, Insanely Simple and Think Simple, draw on that experience and outline the benefits of keeping things simple.


His talk will focus on his philosophies around simplicity and how it applies to both product development and marketing.


"You can have the most innovative product on earth, but if you don't know how to present it and don't pay attention to the principles of simplicity, it won't do all that well," Segall says. "Steve Jobs wouldn't create a product if he didn't also have a very good idea on how to market it."


Segall says keeping things simple is important for a company's product line as well.


"I talk about minimizing choices that you present to customers," Segall says. "If you compare the product lines of Dell or HP versus Apple's, those guys have many, many times more products than Apple does, but Apple makes more money than both of them combined. It's startling how companies waste time and resources trying to please everyone on Earth, rather than make fewer, really good products."


Segall's talk will immediately precede Desai Accelerator Demo Day at the Michigan Theater. That event will feature the six startups in the University of Michigan (U-M) Desai Accelerator's summer cohort pitching their businesses to investors. Segall says he's happy to have his talk paired with Demo Day.


"I enjoy those events," he says. "It's interesting to see what ideas these creative upstart startups have and see how passionate they are about what they do."


Segall was brought to Ann Arbor by coworking space Cahoots, with additional sponsorship by Trove, Ann Arbor SPARK, Clinc, the U-M Zell Lurie Institiute, the U-M Center for Entrepreneurship, the U-M Office of Tech Transfer, Atomic Object, LLamasoft, and the Entrepreneurship Center at WCC.


After Segall's talk and a brief Q&A session, the doors will open for Demo Day at 3:30 p.m., and pitches and demos will start at 4 p.m.


Desai Accelerator has been putting on a Demo Day for several years, but this year is the first time companies in the summer cohort will be competing for $10,000 in prizes sponsored by Consumers Energy. The $10,000 award for best pitch will be given at 5:30 p.m.


More information about Segall's talk and Demo Day is available through EventBrite.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at


Photo courtesy of Ken Segall.

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