In the 1993 movie, “Philadelphia,” Denzel Washington plays the role of a trial attorney. who asks his clients to explain their situation, “ as if I were a six-year-old.”
Today, I was working with a new client and had a difficult time making them come to grips with the challenge of what it takes to make their prospects understand what the company does. It gave me a new insight into what “tell it to me like I’m a six-year-old” really means.
I thought about a conversation I’d had recently with my eight-year-old son. Now, my son is very smart, but he is still eight years old. My son thinks he knows things he doesn’t actually know. As with any intelligent eight-year-old, he often takes little tidbits of things that he does know and applies them to larger concepts. This causes him to come to some conclusions that, while sometimes amusing for a parent, are completely wrong.
It’s important to realize that this is exactly how prospects process messages you give them. They take a few simple ideas they understand and try to apply them to the larger, more complex concepts you present to them. Imagine, if you will, a six-year-old arriving at your web site and trying to understand the information she finds there.
Go ahead -- take a look at your web site as though you were a child. Can a prospect clearly, and distinctly, understand what you are promising? Can they comprehend how what do you will help them?
Or, does your web site, and other marketing material, attempt to explain things.
- Are you trying to get your prospects to understand what makes you special?
- Do you assume that their experiences and knowledge base are the same as yours?
If your marketing materials are trying to explain what you do, you are in the same situation as I am when I try to get my son to understand things that he is already certain he “knows about.” Parents around the world know how difficult that is.
The key to crafting an effective message is to make sure that it means something to those people who don’t know anything about you and will very likely completely misunderstand what you do and what you say, no matter how much you explain it to them. Next time you look at your marketing materials ask yourself, “If I didn’t know what I do, would this message mean anything to me.” Better still, ask a six-year-old.