Cap and Gown

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Most companies I work with market only to smart people. I mean what do you have against us dunces anyway? I know you'll deny it, but if I look at your Web site, I bet you're as guilty as the rest.

What do I mean? You explain what you sell, but most of you don't explain why I need it.

Let me give you an example. Suppose you are a consulting company. What kind of content is on your Web site?

Oh, I see. It says that you are experts in supply chain management. You have lots of experience, dozens of satisfied customers, one of your consultants even wrote a book about it. Impressive.

I've got just one problem. What the hell is supply chain management? What problem does it solve? Why would I need it? How would I know that I needed it?

You see, I'm stupid. I don't really know what supply chain management does. I mean, I think it has something to do with companies that buy things they make into other things, but that's about it. I don't know what facilities management consultants do, either. Nor do I understand business process consultants. I don't even really know what Six Sigma folks do, or why I shouldn't be looking for the better ones who know Seven Sigma.

You might be saying to yourself, "Self, don't listen to Moran because if he was someone who needed my services, he'd know what supply chain management was." Wrong. You tell yourself this because every customer you've ever gotten has already known.

Guess why. You're forcing them to know what it is or else they'd never be able to find you. Anyone who doesn't know can't become your customer until they learn more. Until they are smart.

But what if, instead, you were an equal-opportunity marketer, who retained all that great information on your Web site for smart people who know what supply chain management is, but you also added lots more information that explained to the stupid (me) what it is and what problems it solves? I think two things would happen.

First, people who have the problem you solve would start to find you. They search just like everyone else, just for different words than the smart people. Right now, they never find you. And when they did find your new helpful information, they'd be more likely to work with you than your smarter customers because they might be quite happy to die ignorant of the nuances of supply chain management so long as you solve their problem. They might be easier to sell and more loyal because you know more about the subject than anyone they've ever met, and that's enough for them.

Second, they are more likely to tell other people. The helpful, informative information that you present about supply chain management is more likely to attract links from other sites, precisely because it's not "sales-y" and readers are likely to talk about it, e-mail it, tweet it, and otherwise pass it along.

All of these things are far less likely to happen on the pages on your Web site that describe your core competencies, your singular experience, and how you are kind to animals. Everyone has heard it all before, and most people don't believe such self-serving drivel.

So, take a look at your Web site. Do you explain what you do in basic language than anyone can understand? Or are you full of explanations full of industry jargon that market only to people that already know they need you?

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May 12, 2009

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.


That's correct, I have noticed that people are most responsive when you offer them information that they can all understand.

Beginners like it because they can finally understand what you are talking about, and experts or professionals don't get offended either by something clearly put on paper.

In fact I tend to say that unless you are able to explain something with simple words, you don't really know what you are talking about.

I'll have to admit that more often than not I have overlooked a few things which I considered so simple and just "assumed" that everyone knew it. Big mistake on my behalf. Providing everything about what product or service you are selling and covering all bases is a much safer way to go. Will you get a few techno people who skip over it? Yes. But I think you will find that there will be many more people who will greatly appreciate the indepth information and explanation. It also helps by not having to answer questions from customers because you failed to provide something basic or other information that they don't know of but you assumed they did. Let me slap myself on the wrists ;)

Brilliant writing you dummy Mike!

It should be marketing 101 but SO many companies do it. It's pandemic in SEO and Web Design sites as well.

It's harder to pull off, but fewer and simpler words is usually always better.

You are right. And there are many people as I am. But you see that we have lots of experience, dozens of satisfied customers etc it says that people need us, as well as we need them. It is an inevitable process that absords more and more people every day.

I agree with you Mr. Mike. Actually it is so important to build up a site relevant to the business. If we cannot make it clear to the customer how we can expect a better support from them?

I have tried to build up it as a user friendly site so that people can easily get much information in a short brief of time. This would make people more attracted to the site.

But if they knows little ... I mean very little about this or may be they heard about such thing and knows that such practice is available and you are providing such service ...

Than believe me you can easily sell your things to them.

You know, if you were to actually tell your customer to their face what is on your website, most of the customers would get a glazed-over look on their faces and they probably tuned you out before you were even halfway through. We have to take that into consideration when we are writing the copy for our websites because, like you said, if people don't understand, they're not going to be interested (that is, if they can even find your website in the first place!). You made some excellent points in this post. Thanks!

I bet us dunces make up 85% or more of the saleable population. Marketing only to the geniuses is a big mistake. I do fit intot the dunces too ;)

nj mortgage

Duh...thanks for the reminder. I guess I have some work to do.

It's difficult to put yourself in the shoes of someone who knows little to nothing about your services, especially when you possess such comprehensive knowledge. One good idea is to have a few "clueless" people review your site and provide feedback on what's effective and what areas require additional information and explanations.

This is similar to a service I offer called "Marketing For The Brainy". Too often people with expertise deliver information based on their expertise, not on what the targets of that delivery need. It's like product developers listing features without listing benefits.

I continually have to say "okay, I'm stupid. Tell my what you do and why I should care?" This usually angers them -- they are after all, often very academic -- but eventually the get the point. Especially about the "why should I care" part.

I just had this problem with a site I was trying to SEO. The client kept telling me that I shouldn't try to define what they sell because all of their potential customers would already know. I tried to tell them that that wasn't the point. Maybe if I'd had this article then they would've understood! Great post. Next time I'll have it.

Great post. We often forget about the people who don't yet know they need/want us, and focus instead on those who are already searching for our services.

I like to tell my SEO students to spend time focusing on what problem their products or services can solve, or what need they meet. Think not only about what people are searching for, but WHY they are searching for it. Then you can begin to market to a brand new set of potential customers.

We're a niche marketing consultancy providing PR and e-marketing to tourism targeting New Zealand. I've was wondering why we get such a high number of bounces and this might just be a big reason, We originally designed the site believing we were aiming for big fish (naturally) and so filled it full of jargon and management speak, but have discovered that many of the bigger fish have someone internally that either knows somewhat how to use PR and e-marketing or doesn't understand their importance. The smaller independent clients and these folks who don't understand need their hand held while you explain your services and their benefits to them, so looks like the site will need to change to reflect that.

I just put my website together last week, but now I'm going to look at it with fresh eyes. Thanks for the wake-up call Mike. (How embarrassing, I'm suppose to advice clients on this kind of stuff, but I made the same mistake myself!)

Hi Mike

Yes! of course! It is quit easy phenomena.
If website clearly explains its purpose. and
if simple language is used then new people can easily get it.
and defiantly it is beneficial for website and its business.

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > Marketing to the Smart