I don't know a lot about robotics, but I have read a few articles recently about the biggest problem that robot manufacturer have in entering the home. They need the robots to behave differently so that people know how to interact with robots. For example, if a robot needs to open a door, it moves to the door and then must scan the door to locate the doorknob, identify the kind of doorknob, and then begin moving its robotic arm to open the door. Sometimes it takes a little time to do all these things before starting to move its arm, which to a person looks like it is frozen. But when designers began having the robot move its head up and down while scanning, people realized what it was doing. Having robots signal what they are doing to watching people is called "readability," and it is important for your marketing as well.

Why do robots need readability? Because a person who thinks a robot is frozen will intervene (resetting it, physically moving it, opening the door for the robot) when nothing is really wrong. Someone who realizes that the robot is simply scanning a strange door to understand what to do next will leave it alone.

So what does this have to do with marketing? More than you might think.

We talk a lot about transparency, by which we mean that we should be more forthcoming about what is going on inside our companies. And that is a very good thing, but I want to think about a related concept.

I want us to start thinking about readability, so that people will leave us alone when nothing is wrong. For example, suppose a prominent blogger reports a serious problem with your product. Instead of scrambling the jets to figure out immediately whether the blogger is right and figure out how to respond, immediately respond.

Not sure what to say? If you don't know what is going on, how can you respond? Just say something! Say that this sounds terrible and that you'll get to the bottom of it. That way, everyone can see that you are scanning the unfamiliar door and figuring out what to do. That's readability.

Now, when you find out what is happening, you can tell everyone the truth, which is transparency. But readability comes first. Make sure that you aren't a "black box" to the outside world. If you let people know what you are thinking, they'll cut you more slack then if you don't.

Originally published on Biznology

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December 16, 2011

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


This is a great comparison. It is really important to communicate with customers especially when they are having a bad experience with a company. By not responding they can become more in raged or frustrated if they are not kept in the loop of their situation. This can cause your online reputation to be tainted.

You've got to the right point - realizing the necessity of communication is absolutely relevant in my situation. Just a year ago I wouldn't pay much attention to such a post and would possibly even frown upon such words, but since I have started working as an assistant of the marketing manager, I am taught tall these tactics, and I seriously realize their importance.

I completely agree and really like the metaphor. The quicker the response to the complaint, the more real you appear and the less criticism you will receive. The response definitely needs to be public if the complaint or negative publicity is public.

We only use people to write articles and blogs, and never machines which can in worst case destroy our work and give our customers an inaccurate picture of what it is we want to tell you about our products.

Good article.

@Kob By accounting for the educational level of the target audience and by comparing results with established norms.

Comprehension is best when sentences are short, words are concrete and familiar, and personal references are used frequently.

I think people will always come out better by being themselves. If you have a thick accent don't worry because everyone does they just don't realize it until they travel.

New Yorker's, Southerners, etc its all the same you have to speak in a way that is universal to all people but do so in a way that reflects who you really are.

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > Does your marketing have "readability"?