No matter what your role is in your organization, a critical part of your job is communicating – to customers, to other employees, to other vendors you work with – about your company’s products or services. This means you are a marketer. And as marketers, we need to face a hard reality. Most people don’t understand what we’re talking about. Here’s why:
You have likely invested years in becoming an expert in your field. You live and breathe your business and your ideas every single day. But here’s the thing- the people you are selling those ideas to don’t. You are an expert; they are a novice. We attempt to simplify, clarify, and dumb down our message so that people can first understand our ideas and then buy them. But we overestimate their level of understanding and our message doesn’t get through.
As Chip and Dan Heath expertly point out in their book, “Made To Stick,” drawing on research in cognitive psychology, we are cursed by our knowledge.
People buy ideas at the novice level. We talk to them at the intermediate level.
As the above diagram shows, even when we work to simplify our message, it’s often not enough, and we leave a gap in understanding for our customer.
But here’s the good news; we can break the curse of knowledge through the power of story. Stories are like wormholes, bending the space-time continuum (remember that scene from Interstellar?). They transport the customer across the span of knowledge to greater understanding. They make your message relatable.
Here’s a story about three web design companies.
Web Design Company A, Web Design Company B, and Web Design Company C. They all describe the services they provide on their website.
Company A’s description goes like this; “We offer proprietary SEO tools, responsive design, and effective conversion optimization.”
Company B’s; “We specialize in functional design and smart information architecture. And with iterative testing, you’ll see conversion rates increase, backed up by analytics and data.”
And Company C’s; “We create websites that put your business at the top of Google searches, look just as great on smart phones and tablets as they do on desktops, and give you feedback so you can tell what’s working and what isn’t.”
And then Company C also includes a brief customer testimonial that goes like this; “Our website just works. Everywhere. And gives us measurable results.”
Company A may offer a better product or service than B and C in every way, but it doesn’t matter. Their customers have no idea what they’re talking about. Company B may offer a better product and service than Company C, but they’re talking to them at the intermediate level. The message is still not getting through.
Company C will win the business that A and B are losing every time because they’re talking to customers on their level.
See what we did there?
Collapse the understanding gap and break the curse of knowledge instantly through the power of story.