Is Your Agency Plagued with the Curse of Knowledge?
If you know a ton about your agency but aren’t winning all the clients you think you should be, you might be plagued with the curse of knowledge. In this episode, you will learn how you can clarify your message and use it as a competitive advantage. Win more clients when you communicate in a way that makes clients feel educated and helped.
In this episode, we’ll cover:
- What is the curse of knowledge?
- How to break the curse of knowledge.
- How to use explanation to separate your agency from the competition.
Today’s guest on the show is Lee Lefever founder of Common Craft and Explainer Academy and author of The Art of Explanation. His businesses and his book center around the idea of making explanation a business growth strategy. He’s on the show to share ways to clarify your agency’s message so you can win more clients… because when you confuse, you lose.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” ~ Albert Einstein
What is the Curse of Knowledge?
Ever wonder why no one “gets” what you do? Do you get puzzled looks when you describe your agency work in detail? That’s the curse of knowledge. It’s the theory that the more you know about something the harder it is to understand what it’s like not knowing.
You spend all day engrossed in the technical side of the industry, surrounded by people speaking a language very specific to your agency’s skill set. However, outside of the agency setting you might continue to use technical jargon that makes other people (like prospective clients) feel confused, overwhelmed, or inferior. It’s not intentional but it happens!
Lee compares it talking to a mechanic when you have car trouble. They use technical phrasing to explain the problem but you don’t understand most of what they say. You don’t want to look stupid by asking questions so you smile and nod… Then, you either trust them and agree to the repairs or shop around to find someone you can understand. That’s what your prospective clients are doing when you don’t clearly explain how your agency can help them.
Working this way might makes you (and your agency) feel and sound smart but creates a set of problems:
- It makes clients feel inferior when you talk above their level of understanding.
- When you water it or simplify too much, it sounds condescending.
- Your client doesn’t want to ask questions for fear of sounding stupid.
How Can You Break the Curse?
The goal is to explain in a such a way that it makes your client feel a sense of familiarity. You can adjust your assumptions on what you think people might know about your business. Lee says you have to avoid getting stuck in a loop where your client doesn’t understand and is afraid to ask questions, so you continue to use language they don’t understand and they continue to be confused.
What you can do is start using phrases like: “I don’t know how much you already know about XYZ…” before you simplify an explanation. Framing the conversation this way allows you to “dumb down” the explanation without sounding condescending.
How to Use Explanation as a Competitive Advantage
There’s a difference between “understanding” and “convincing.” Understanding is a higher level concept and it’s not the same as convincing someone they need your service. Your agency’s job is to help your prospects/clients think conceptually and understand why. When they understand how you can help they are more apt to want to buy.
For example, if you’re an SEO agency… clients might not care about SEO but they do care about what SEO can do for them.
If you have the curse of knowledge it seems obvious to you why someone should work with you. However, when you have a shift in mindset and break the curse you will win more clients. Take a step back and think about what questions you can answer for your clients before they even ask them. Things like: “Why is this relevant to me?” or “How will this affect me?” Consider the struggles and pain points your clients have, then explain how you can help ease them. People don’t buy what they don’t understand – so help them understand!
You will stand out from your competition when your agency tackles the WHY for more directly. Win more clients when you help them understand why your agency’s work is important instead of just convincing them it’s something they need.
3 Questions Your Agency Website Must Answer
Your website is the central hub of everything you do. Your homepage is where your prospects go first and how they’ll compare you against other agencies. STOP worrying about what other agencies sites look like and make sure yours answers these 3 questions:
- Who do you help?
- What do you offer?
- How do you help?
Too many agency websites skip answering #1 and assume their services are for everyone. Be a specialist and announce it on your website. Use language that is familiar to your clients and phrases that are specific to their industry. You will win more business when your prospects realize you “get” them and the nuances of their industry.
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