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Clarity Sells: Save the Techno-babble for Later

By Sander Biehn | Dec 1, 2013

I arrived home after an awards ceremony, where local companies were honored for the best uses of technology over the past year. I decided to play a game with my kids. I read aloud the descriptions of what each innovator did to be nominated for the award. Then, I offered the kids $5 each if they could tell me, in simple terms, what that company had done to earn their nomination. I walked away from this game with all the money I had started with, but I doubt you find this too surprising.

Even for someone like me, who has spent his adult life steeped in technology, I was having a hard time understanding all the technical jargon at this event.  How did a cloud software package along with professional services, eliminate an inventory log-jam problem, anyway?  I am sure these innovations were momentous, but there was no way to understand the frustration of the ‘before’ picture or celebrate the joy in the ‘after’.  I could not get past the technical talk that dominated each case study, to get at the human story.

I think there are two reasons for this. Both reasons stem from our misperception of technical buyers.

There is an assumption that technical people need to hear technical arguments filled with lots of technical details to get excited. If we give them simple, easy to understand language, they will think we are talking down at them, or will figure the content is aimed at others who are  less technical.

Secondly, we assume they will not read about solving business problems as they only care about how technical things work.

Both assumptions are false. Back at the conference, one innovator spoke about how they used technology to allow customers to quickly check-in at their stores on a large TV screen. Customers could also track the status of their jobs as they waited from the same screens. In comparison to the other case studies, this one was ‘Dick and Jane.’ Guess what? It won to thunderous audience applause.

In the world of Social Media, clients often assume that if they are selling something technical, then the content that we produce will need to be technical to appeal to their buyers. It is just the opposite. Certainly the posts need to exhibit understanding of technical buyer’s problems and how technology can solve those problem, but by using simple analogies and putting the problems in human we get the most attention, interest and engagement.

My two rules are to keep it simple and human, and to walk humbly with a solid opinion.

Keep in mind that your audience is a group of human beings. They have problems that are specific to their jobs, and they are looking to make their lives better. If you have ideas, they are open to them.

However, if you are not willing to recommend one idea over another and explain why, there is no reason to engage with your content. The reader may agree or disagree with your opinion, but either way they need to have something to bite into to do either. Your job as a content creator is to give that to them.

Finally, keep in mind that there is a place for the deep dive technical discussion. It is AFTER your value has been explained, the client is intrigued and wants to know the details of implementing your solution. Giving them the details before they are sold on the idea is a surefire way to never have anyone engage with your content.

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