In this post we’ll explain what the curse of knowledge is and share some tips for breaking free of the curse. By the end of this post you’ll be able to transform how you speak and write about your business – so that people actually get it!
What is the curse of knowledge?
Let’s start by defining what the curse of knowledge is. Here at Wildheart we define the curse of knowledge as: “The more you know a subject, the harder it is to write about it in a simple way.”
To become an expert in your field you spend years learning and refining your craft. This creates a knowledge gap between yourself and those who would buy from you.
When you meet someone and introduce yourself face to face you have multiple cues as to whether they understand what you’re saying: body language, facial expressions and conversation. This means you can continually adapt what you’re saying until you know they understand you.
Forget it, let’s dance!
Have you ever been at a party where the music was really loud and someone asked you “What do you do?”
After a few seconds of leaning in and shouting in their ear you can see them looking over your shoulder and eventually looking bored…
If you’re quick you may just grab their hand and say “Forget it, let’s dance!”
What’s happening on your website?
On your website you don’t have those same cues to respond and adapt to in real-time and you sure don’t have your dance moves either!
So, what do you have? Just text and images mainly.
And the text starts with the very first heading people see on your homepage. When a new visitor lands on your website you only have a few seconds to virtually grab their hand and take them on a journey.
The 3 most common symptoms of the curse of knowledge
Take a look at your homepage now and see if you can spot these common symptoms:
- Your website copy is all about your business, your services and your expertise.
- Your copy includes industry terms and inside jargon.
- You’re not clearly asking your visitors to take action or you’re giving them too many choices.
How to overcome the curse of knowledge
Based on the 3 common symptoms above, here are our practical tips for overcoming the curse of knowledge:
This really isn’t about you
The single biggest mistake we see businesses make is writing too much about themselves and not empathising enough with their customers.
You need to position your customer at the centre of your marketing campaigns and web copy: How does it feel to have their problem? And how will it feel if you solve that problem?
When reviewing your web copy and marketing campaigns, keep an eye out for industry terms and jargon. Swap these words for more straightforward alternatives.
Even words that seem simple to you might not mean a great deal to your audience. Remember: you’re the expert with years of experience in this area. They’re coming to you with a problem that needs solving and they want to quickly and easily find out if you can help them.
If you’re too close to your own copy, or you’re not sure if it’s too jargon-heavy, try asking a layperson or someone outside your industry to read it and give you feedback.
Don’t make me think
Give your visitors one thing to do on each page of your website. Do the hard work yourself by deciding on the one action you want them to take on each page.
Remember: the more choices you give people, the more friction you create.
Kicking the habit
Unfortunately, you can’t be cured of the curse of knowledge: you simply know too much!
But the curse can be treated. Get into good habits and follow our recommendations above every time you’re planning your marketing campaigns. Make it part of your standard process to actively seek out symptoms of the curse and remedy them.
Have you got any curse busters?
What techniques are you using that help you overcome the curse of knowledge? We’d love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment below.
And to find out more about the curse of knowledge, listen to Guy’s interview on the Internet Marketing Podcast.