News article

Is the “curse of knowledge” sabotaging your marketing? Turn things around with these three steps

Have you ever been at a dinner party, stuck talking to someone about what they do, with no clue what they’re going on about?

Seriously, they’ve been talking about their job for almost 45 minutes. Why do you still have no idea what they actually do?!

Even though it’s little consolation compared with the opportunity to leave the conversation, it may help to know that in these situations, it’s not actually your fault that you don’t get it.

See, the person you’re talking to, while probably highly qualified and clearly very passionate about their job, has been struck down by the “curse of knowledge”.

It might sound like the sort of spell a Disney villain would rain down on their nemesis, but it’s not quite that sinister.

The curse of knowledge is a type of bias that can afflict any of us once we take a special interest in a particular subject, and it’s prevalent in marketing materials the world over. So how can you make sure your content escapes that fate?

The curse of knowledge is an inability to empathise with your listener

Let’s be clear, the curse of knowledge is NOT malicious. Your dinner party pal is not trying to bore you or make you feel stupid.

It’s quite the opposite actually: they’re really excited to tell you about this amazing world they work in so that you can benefit from or enjoy it as well.

The problem is, they can’t remember what it’s like to be new to it all.

They’ve spent years learning all the terminology, figuring out the processes, and witnessing the results of their work on the lives of their clients.

Now, they just want to tell the world everything about it. They want others to know how life-changing the work can be.

But by using language that’s very specialised and technical, they actually drive the people they’re speaking to away and make them even less interested in the subject than they had been previously. And that’s a real shame.

Marketing without empathy can repel prospective clients

It’s an easy trap to fall into when you begin writing content to market your financial planning business.

You’re excited by the results you achieve for clients and can’t wait to help others achieve the same thing. So, you waste no time in talking about all the ways that you’ve helped your clients to diversify their portfolios, ensure they’re taking just enough but not too much risk, and helped them to invest in ESG funds that align with their personal values.

Thing is, most of the people searching for a financial planner don’t really know or care about any of those things, certainly not to begin with.

Instead, they’re worrying about whether they have enough money to retire, how much they can leave their kids as inheritance, or if they can afford to care for their elderly parents.

The things you’ve written about are the tools that will help them to answer these questions, but it’s those fundamental questions that your prospective clients want to read about, first and foremost.

When you have as little as five seconds to grab the attention of a website visitor, headlines really matter. If the content on your homepage goes whizzing over your reader’s head leaving them none the wiser about how your philosophy will ease their worries about retiring, you can wave goodbye to their enquiry.

Just like that dinner party conversation, your marketing will fall flat despite your best intentions.

Overthrow the curse of knowledge by getting to know your clients better

There are three things you can do right now to start to overthrow the curse of knowledge, if you think it could be sabotaging your current marketing efforts.

1: Ask your current clients why they initially sought a financial planner

The first step is incredibly simple: talk to the people you want to help.

If your mate at the dinner party had thought to ask what you knew about his profession before launching into his spiel, you could have explained that you knew nothing about it. Hopefully, as a result he would have talked about his work differently, making it much easier for you to enjoy the conversation.

That’s why understanding your clients’ level of knowledge about what you do is so helpful for your marketing. There’s no sense in writing about the different types of annuities that are available if none of your readers know what an annuity actually is or how it could help them.

By starting with this exercise and letting the answer guide what you write for your clients, you can be sure that you always publish interesting and sought-after content.

2: Watch your language

No, not *that* kind of language (although I wouldn’t recommend swearing either). I’m talking about jargon, acronyms, and any technical terms that don’t include a short explanation.

This is especially important from an accessibility point of view. According to ascento the average reading age of UK adults is 9 years, while the reading age of the Guardian is 14 years. By using unnecessarily complex words and sentences in your content, you are excluding a large proportion of your potential audience.

The financial services industry is notoriously complex, but by using simple language that clearly explains the fundamental concepts that readers want to understand, your blogs and newsletters will prove popular with readers.

Even better than being popular, you’ll be seen as a trustworthy and knowledgeable source of information and services. After all, as Einstein famously said: “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”

3: Outsource your content writing to a marketing agency who really gets it

Sometimes, a little helping hand from someone else is the best way forward.

Outsourcing your content writing to a third party (such as, say, a marketing agency that specialises in the financial services industry) brings so many benefits. One of the biggest ones is that a marketing agency will have a deep understanding of exactly what readers want from your content.

While specialist copywriters tend to have a very high level of knowledge about your specialism (some of them have actually worked as financial planners before turning their hand to copywriting), they have also spent a lot of time studying the science of copywriting for marketing.

That means they understand exactly how to write copy that’s clear, interesting, factually correct, and accessible for non-experts. That’s everything you need for content that positions you as an expert without alienating your audience.

Get in touch

If that last point has piqued your interest and you’d like to know more about how we can help you to write content that delights your readers and attracts new clients, we’d love to chat.

Email or call 0115 8965300 to find out more.

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