Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog.
Mistake #2: Not specifying the problem. (If it ain’t sound broke, they ain’t gonna be fixin’ nothin’.)
Quite a lot of good stuff has been written about this, so I can just link you to it:
- UserOnboard.com has a short, simple post that captures this in less than 150 words, titled Features vs. Benefits.
- Belle Beth Cooper wrote a post about this too, with People Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Better Versions Of Themselves.
- Gregory Ciotti wrote about this compellingly with “Your World Before Our Software…”.
The central idea is conceptually simple: Humans are wired to think in narratives, using change and contrast to help us make sense of things.
So why don’t we, as writers, focus on the transformations that our content will give our readers?
We just haven’t had enough practice in modelling the minds of others so extensively.
Psychologist Matthew Lieberman points out that it’s pretty amazing that we can figure out what other people think at all, but this is a superpower we’re only recently beginning to refine and develop.
The ‘Curse Of Knowledge’ outright obstructs us from seeing things from a laypersons point-of-view.
Dan and Chip Heath described this in their book Made To Stick (here’s a great summary): Experts in a given domain have figured out for themselves why something is meaningful, and they can then think more effectively in abstractions and jargon. But this translates badly to passers-by to the domain, who don’t know why something is significant.
The disconnect is like a visual illusion: it doesn’t quite go away even when we realise and acknowledge that it exists.
The good news is, once you learn to think in a customer-centric, reader-centric, user-centric perspective, you’ll find that the responses, feedback and shares you get are vastly superior. You’ll get hooked on the feedback, and crave more of it.