Easy traps to fall into: both underestimating how much you know, and overestimating how much you think others already know. Tradespeople and subject-matter experts are the worst offenders – they easily forget what it’s like to be a newer entrant to their world; their comfort with their own expertise is so high they can sometimes come across as arrogant or patronising without meaning to be. The heavy use of jargon and industry-speak can further muddy their written and verbal communications. It’s the curse of (having too much) knowledge.
How tricky it can be to grasp the foundational ideas of any discipline before the stepping-stones of greater understanding can be built. Online marketers of all disciplines – search, social and content – all need to remind themselves of this. Too often there’s a gap between what an organisation wants the market to know about themselves, their products or services through what they publish online, against what people want and need to know as part of making an informed purchase. Don’t underestimate the level of consumer level research which is typically undertaken online prior to a purchase – and the higher the value of the purchase and/or the higher the perceived risk of making an incorrect purchase, the greater the need for non-sales related information.
Organisations commonly make the assumption that somehow it’s the job of generalist publishers to bring their potential customers up to speed with the basics of how their stuff works. But their potential customers are readily searching for straightforward answers to straightforward questions: help me through this process of understanding before I waste my money! Most commercial organisations still don’t see themselves in the ‘teaching’ game. They fail to see the benefit of educating their market.
The internet has changed the way knowledge is distributed and found – holding tightly onto industry expertise is no longer a source of competitive advantage. It’s now a distinct disadvantage. By being a (relatively) scarce provider of the entry-level information within your industry niche, and appreciating the value it delivers – no tricky strings attached – businesses are able to capture the attention of potential buyers at the very beginning of their purchase cycle, and boost their own credibility in the process. The art and science of this approach is to see the world from multiple buyer perspectives – different buyers will have different informational needs depending on where they are within the decision cycle and their own levels of expertise. But new buyers will always start with basic research. Why not be the one to give it to them?
Avoid the curse of knowledge – nothing about your industry niche is too basic to publish online. Try and remember what it was like when you started out all those years ago.
Image by oskiamo