You are an expert in what you do. You know every step of the process from idea to delivery. The whys, the where, the how as well as the what. You know the history of your business and the industry you’re in. You’ve got a great store of knowledge to tell amazing stories from.
But do you know what? Sometimes you forget a key thing.
Your customers aren’t experts
I’ve been working with some absolute experts in their field. Brilliant people. Except trying to move them away from jargon has been hard.
Even when I’ve asked them to explain something simply to me, it would still be something that the average customer might have struggled to understand. Of course, they’ve got a copywriter involved to try and translate it into something customers can connect with, but it’s a classic situation in many businesses.
We forget to keep it simple.
The dangers of complicating things
There’s a famous quote by Mark Twain:
I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.Mark Twain
Sometimes, it’s harder to write fewer words. Every single one has to count. But when you take the time, it’s often some of the best writing. Let’s face it “Just Do It” doesn’t need any more words in order to be memorable. And making things simple is the equivalent of making things short.
If you don’t make things simple, you run the risk of a few things with your customers and potential customers. You might:
- turn them off
- turn them away
- leave them feeling negatively towards your business
- leave them feeling stupid
None of those are what you mean to happen, or want to happen. But you can see how easily we can fall into that trap. But there’s also a danger with simple as well.
Simple, not simplistic
Your customers are not idiots, and no one likes to be talked down to. Don’t swap jargon for overly simple. That’s going to be just as much a turnoff. You can picture for yourself what that feels like.
My rule of thumb is to just write like a human. Explain it in the same way you would to your mates down the pub or to a friend over a cup of coffee.
If Brian Cox can explain the universe simply to us and make it compelling prime time TV, then we can probably make what we do easy to understand.
One of the challenges of things like Facebook, or many big corporate businesses, is that they’ve stopped sounding human. In fact a lot of them have possibly forgotten that on the inside, in their day to day operations and not just in their writing.
It’s one of the superpowers a small business has, to always be human. And along with supporting businesses with a purpose, more people are looking for businesses that they feel a connection with. We tend to make our strongest connections with people, not things.
The more human you sound, flaws and all, the more approachable the business becomes. The business, and its people, feel much more real. Big businesses spend millions trying to do this. All we have to do as small business owners is tell it like it is.
And ditch the jargon.
Turns out Keep It Simple, Stupid still holds good as great advice, even today.