February 03, 2008

The Curse Of Knowledge

I heard an interview recently with one of the authors of the book Made To Stick, written by Dan & Chip Heath. This book is causing quite a stir in business circles in the US and one of the brothers (I can't remember which - bet they hate that!) talked of something called the Curse of Knowledge, which I thought very important.

The Curse of Knowledge afflicts us when we know a lot about something and struggle to put ourselves in the shoes of a listener who may not know as much (or care as much) as we do about it. This strikes me as especially important for brand-owners who often assume that our customers are as familiar as we are with what we have to sell to them. The Heath brother (Chip or Dan, you take your pick) suggested that ideas that stick in the marketplace are those that relay to customers no more and no less than they need to make a choice and don't assume their expertise.

This makes sense. We can't expect our customer to be a specialist. We're all of us familiar with the over-enthusiastic or seriously-intense salesman who tries to browbeat the cusotmer into making a purchase. Sometimes, that salesman is us! If we were to look a little more closely, I think we'd see that we can be afflicted with the Curse of Knowledge which dooms us to the failure of telling a lot but saying very little that's relevant to our customer.

What's your area of specialist knowledge and how do you curse your business relationships with it?

1 comment:

Peter said...

Very true Gerard. It all comes down to language. If you don't use common words to sell to your customers, you'll never succeed.

If you try this online the results are even worse, as you'll never be found for people searching for what you do.