How to avoid the curse of knowledge in your brand messaging

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘explain it in layman’s terms.’

We know what it means – to explain something in simple language that anyone can understand – and yet so many fall foul of this when it comes to their marketing.

In fact, many will do the complete opposite. We see it all the time – and we get it – you’re in the business because you’re an expert in your field. But there’s a time and a place for expert terminology and, we’re sorry to say, it isn’t in your marketing.

First, ask yourself this question – “is my marketing having the desired effect?”

If the answer is no – your messaging might be suffering from the curse of knowledge. In other words, you’re likely losing business because people can’t understand what you’re telling them.

Are you too close to your business?

The problem is, when you’re so close to your product, you stop seeing things from an outside perspective. That can have big implications for your marketing, and your overall business success. Why? Because your customer’s often on the outside looking in too.

But don’t panic – there are ways you can ensure your marketing stays clear of the curse of knowledge. We break them down for you here:

What IS the curse of knowledge?

Put simply, the curse of knowledge occurs when you forget that not everybody has your expertise in the topic you’re talking about. You might communicate too much too soon in your marketing and on your website. The result? Insider language, industry jargon, buzzwords, and acronyms that nobody understands!

If you’re not careful, you’ll have overwhelmed and confused your potential customer and they’ll have drifted off before they’ve even had a chance to consider doing business with you.  Another lost sale.

How to avoid the curse of knowledge

First, be aware of it! No matter how much you like to think you don’t, you do. We all do. It’s an easy trap to slip into. When you accept this, you can focus your attention on mitigating it. Here are 5 things you can focus on right now to avoid the curse of knowledge and clarify your message:

1. Know your audience

This is a vital step – the level of knowledge your customer has will of course vary from one to the next. For instance, if you’re selling niche products or services to other businesses or industry professionals who are also experts in your field – there will be a level of understanding you can reasonably expect them to have.

Marketing your products or services as though you were talking to a total novice risks coming across as patronising and may put them off doing business with you. So it’s important to know who you’re talking to here and how much they know.

On the other hand, be sure you aren’t making incorrect assumptions. They might know the industry like the back of their hand, but not be familiar with your product or service in particular.

It’s always better to include slightly more information for those well versed, than not enough for those who are not. Address the less experienced while making it easy for more familiar customers to quickly scan over any information they don’t need.

2. Focus on your customer

We often see businesses fall into the trap of trying to impress the competition, rather than focusing on their true target customer. Truth is, this risks negatively impacting your marketing.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping your competition in mind. Marketing is, after all, about standing out from your competition – and how can you do this if you don’t know what they’re doing?

But there is a line between competitive analysis and wanting to impress them over your actual customer!

Your website and marketing should always be focused on your customer, not your competition. Let this slide and you’ll find technical language and industry jargon slipping in, complicating your message, and confusing your customer – your real priority.

3. Keep it simple – and visual

No matter how familiar your audience is with your product, we’d always recommend avoiding jargon in public-facing material. Keep your language clear, and cut away the clutter to clarify your message.

Instead of using complex language, use visual language that is relatable to your audience. An example would be saying “an area the size of London” instead of “1,572 km²”.

Ultimately, not using jargon isn’t going to stop those who are more experienced from progressing with you, but it is likely to stop those who are less experienced from moving forward.

4. Get a fresh pair of eyes

It’s all well and good knowing you need to be focusing on these things, but have you actually achieved that? The best way to know is to have someone who isn’t you (or close to you) take a look over your marketing collateral with an unbiased eye. You’re really not the best person for the job here!

Ask them to tell you what it is your business does, what the problem is that you solve, why this matters to your customers, and what, if anything, is causing them confusion.

Ask them if there’s anything about your public-facing materials that is confusing. You might even have a revelation or two!

5. Utilise the power of story

When you focus on the power story can play in your marketing, you’ll see things more clearly. Only when you begin to listen to your customers and focus on their story can you start to understand how your business fits into that. Only then can you communicate with language that resonates with them. You’ll finally have a clearer understanding of the problems your customer faces – so you can speak directly to those problems in a way that your customer understands.

Expert StoryBrand Copywriters

Isn’t it time you stopped sending your customers to your competitors? If you need help communicating in a way that gets your customer to listen, we can help. Our StoryBrand certified copywriters know how to make your marketing engaging and compel your customers to take action. We’ll take the pressure off copywriting so you can get back to doing what you do best – with peace of mind your marketing is in safe hands. Schedule a call today.