Monday, January 11, 2010

Being Too Insider Can Leave Your Clients on the Outside - and Make Them Frustrated, Too

Being Too Insider Can Leave Your Clients on the Outside - and Make Them Frustrated, Too

Though I try not to make a habit of complaining, I was telling my boyfriend just the other day that I find the music reviews in the local alternative paper (Phoenix New Times, an affiliate of Village Voice Media Holdings) impossible to read because they are just too insider. I get the sense that the only people they're really writing for are other music critics. The same often seems to be true of book reviewers and movie critics.

Case in point? This very newspaper's Jan. 7-13, 2010 edition. Its cover story: The YEAR IN FILM. Now, it's not like I'm a Hollywood film junkie. I admit to seeing a fair number of blockbusters ... but I also admit that I've never seen Jaws, and only saw Jurassic Park for the first time on network TV a couple years ago. I have a fairly steady diet of indie fare, even including the occasional foreign (read: subtitled) film. So I don't feel as though I'm exactly living under a movie/film/cinematic rock. Yet, in reading the review of the 10 best films of 2009, I had seen only 2 of them; had the opportunity and desire to see 2 others but simply haven't yet; and hadn't even heard of the other 6.

Their list, in order:
  1. The Hurt Locker
  2. Police, Adjective
  3. Inglourious Basterds
  4. The Headless Woman
  5. The White Ribbon
  6. Hunger
  7. Big Fan
  8. A Serious Man
  9. I'm Gonna Explode
  10. Up
Don't even get me started on the Favorite Films of the Decade. There were 9; I've seen 2.

But my point isn't really to rag on the New Times. It's to wonder aloud whether we aren't all guilty of this sometimes: being so insider that we leave our potential audience outside, and quite frustrated as a result. It's actually an easy thing to do. We do what we do every day. We're probably pretty good at it, so it's easy - and normal - for us. We speak the language and understand how it all works. But when the time comes to explain it - whether it be a process, a product, or a service - how well are we able to put the explanation in lay terms so that the client or end-user can actually understand the message we're trying to convey?

The onus of communication is ALWAYS on the communicator, not the communicatee. So are you assuming that the people you're talking with (or writing to) understand you, or do you know for sure? You can start to get a handle on it by listening to the types of questions they're asking. If at any point you find yourself thinking, "I thought everyone knew that" in response to their questions, you may be talking/writing over their heads on more than just that one topic.

Yes, your clients want you to be good at what you do - that's why they've hired you. But if you recognize opportunities to be more inclusive in your language, conversations, or blog posts, it might be in your best interest to take them!

For more information about how to make your writing strong, clear, and easily understood by YOUR target marekt, e-mail Laura or visit Write Market Design where we specialize in teaching our writers to think like marketers!

No comments:

Post a Comment