An exec in a meeting recently said “You gotta dumb it down for me, dude. I’m an executive.”
Both funny and true. But execs aren’t the only ones who need things simplified. Customers need it. Business partners need it. And Sales needs it. Why do marketers so often act as though they’re paid by the word? (Maybe because we think “value proposition” is plain English).
That doesn’t mean we avoid polysyllabic words and jargon. If your customers are network engineers, words like SNMP, MIB and OID are commonplace. So smart marketers think in terms of their audience’s plain English, not their own. A co-worker gave me a great lesson in that the other day when he needed to explain IP addresses and subnets to a non-technical audience. He said:
“An IP address is like a phone number. If you know Jenny’s phone number is 867-5309, you can call her. And if you know a device’s IP address, you can talk to it on the network.
“More than one person has the phone number 867-5309. But we don’t get confused because they have different area codes. A network has different subnets, and those are like area codes. If two people in the same area code had the same phone number, there would be a problem. On a network, that’s an IP address conflict. As long as they have different area codes – subnets – they can have the same phone number.
“If you move you keep the same cell phone number. That’s like a static IP address; it’s always the same number. But when you move you get a new home phone number. That’s like a dynamic IP address. Everytime someone moves their notebook to another wireless access point in the building, they get issued a new dynamic IP address.”
Abstract away complexity. Keep it as simple as possible and put it in your customers’ language.
Photo by erenata