We all think we know how to explain a solution that we have a problem to or an explanation about an exciting new product we are selling. However, how we choose to explain or communicate an idea is so common that we don’t realize or think about what approach we use to get our point across or if it is even effective. Often, we forget that most people are not familiar with industry words that we use everyday to describe our products since we are the experts when it comes to our products or services.
In the book, The Art of Explanation, expert explainer Lee LeFever says “It only takes a few wrong words in your explanation to completely ruin the best, most productive life-changing ideas in just moments! We make poor assumptions about what people already know, and these assumptions limit the potential of our explanations.” Yes, this simple mistake can make or break your business, product or service!
My Product Rocks, so what’s the Problem?
Simply put, if you have a really great product or service that the world needs to find out about, and it’s just not catching on as quickly as it should, there may be break down between your product explanation and the customer.
If you have a really great product or service that your customers or followers aren’t buying, then they obviously aren’t listening to your explanations and understanding how great your product really is! You may be “cursed with too much knowledge” a term coined by founder of Common Craft Videos, Lee LeFever referring to when your customer is not familiar with words and terms that you use everyday in your industry like “apps” or ‘social media.”
Believe it or not, most people are not familiar with many technology words and if you place them in your product explanations including: packaging, email campaigns, website content, and social media posts, you could be scaring away your potential customers.
We can all agree that example stories help us understand a concept easier by putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes making it more personal. So, to give you a quick solution to learning how to provide better customer explanations for your products, we will use the following scenario.
Meet Jake. He is a cutting edge entrepreneur with a killer new app that he and his team have recently developed. Jake has been promoting his new app on social media platforms and the products website, though they have a great deal of followers, they aren’t selling the product like they had intended. It feels like his customers just aren’t listening to their product campaigns (explanations), understanding how great his new product really is and how helpful it will be once they discover its value!
Jake’s background includes software design, and computer programming. His team consists of advanced computer users, developers and graphic designers, who work in the computer and software field using specific words and phrases everyday, which likely would be foreign to most of us.
Try the A-Z Continuum Scale
To determine if Jake and his customers are on the same level of education or understanding of his product, he mapped out the “reach” of his current product explanation to his potential target audience by using an “A-Z Continuum” scale.
A-Z Continuum scale is a simple way to solve explanation problems that people encounter about your current product explanation. Jake found that the A-Z Scale highlighted a large group of potential customers, who were left out because they didn’t understand the company explanation of the apps communicated through the web site, media posts, and email campaigns. The curse of knowledge was preventing Jake and his team from accounting their future customer’s needs.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you assume your customers understand your product’s current explanation and plot the results on the A-Z Scale:
- Where are you (personally) on the A-Z Scale regarding your specific idea? (Most likely, your level of understanding of your product or service will be on the scale toward “Z” since you are the expert on your brand, product or service. You may have been working for a long time on developing your product and have lost touch with your market and how to explain your product in a way that makes your potential customer feel confident that they could use it.
- Where is your audience on the A-Z Scale?
- What assumptions are you making about their level of understanding? (Most likely you are assuming they are between ”M” through “Z” but odds are they are closer to “A” through “D” on the scale)
- Are your current explanations about your product or services accounting for everyone on the scale? (Are you targeting all of your potential audiences or just the higher level, educated few, who might understand what you are selling)?
- Should they?
Packaging Ideas to Create an Explanation
So, how do you move your potential customers from “A” on the scale to the middle of the scale, closer to understanding what your product or service is all about? According to Lee LeFever, an effective explanation is created by packaging your ideas. Think of a package of ideas as “stepping stones” taking your customer through the explanation. When you have the right explanation that helps your customer understand what your product or service does, they feel confident that they can use it. They then care about it. Bingo! You have their attention!
Conclusion to our story – Jake determined that he needed to rethink his current product explanations being used on the product website, in promotions and throughout social media posts. His goal is to present or package his big idea or set of ideas about his app and its’ features in a way that solves an explanation problem in everyday language that would be simply understood by the group of people he discovered in the A-Z scale results. According to the book, “The Art of Explanation,” there are specific guidelines used to accomplish the task of packaging your ideas including the following:
- Stories – Add human experience to a presentation of facts for people to quickly empathize with.
- Connections – Turn “on the light bulb” by helping people understand a new idea and connect it with something they already understand, or help them see a concept from a new perspective by connecting the ideas.
- Descriptions – Examples that focus on “how” rather than “why.”
Test your knowledge about a topic by watching an example video about Wikis, created by Lee LeFever, the owner of Common Craft. The video also demonstrates how to present an explanation for a topic based on ideas explained in terms understood by the general public, following the guidelines mentioned above: http://www.commoncraft.com/video/wikis
Information about explanations and making your ideas, products and services easier to understand can be found in the book, “The Art of Explanation,” written by Lee LeFever.
Lee is also the founder of Common Craft, a company known around the world for making complex ideas easy to understand in the form of video explanations. Through multiple awards, tens of millions of online views and work with brands like LEGO, Google and Ford Motors, Lee and his wife Sachi have built a reputation for excellence in explanation.
For more information, please visit www.commoncraft.com