It was a big sports weekend in the wide world of sports, even if you’re not a fan.
A major golf championship, a major soccer competition, the biggest name in Motorsports finally won, and the NBA continued to crown a champion. Oh yeah – there was a lot of regular season stuff going on as well.
As I took in a lot of this, I realized that after a lifetime of immersion in just about every sport known to the world I had a pretty good idea about the nuances of what I was watching. As I sat with various people over the course of the weekend, I realized that while they sort of understood the basics of what was on the screen, they weren’t fully understanding what they were watching. The announcers didn’t often do a good job of explaining it either – why is a downhill lie a bad thing and what they heck is a “loose” car anyway? At various points, it was clear that they had no clue why what they were seeing was significant. Which is, of course, the business point.
I spent a fair amount of time translating for them. Not from English to some other language, but from the technical language of sport into something they could understand. Each of us at some point might be guilty of the same kind of jargon-filled exposition which totally baffles our intended audience. More importantly, it often denies a newer audience admission into the clan. We’re not speaking the language of the customer, and definitely not the language of the prospective customer.
A lot of what makes us good marketers (and executives, come to think of it) is that ability to translate. We need to take something that might be highly technical and make it simple (Apple software vs. Microsoft, for example) and do so in a way that resonates with our customers (“it just works”). If you can’t explain it to a fifth grader, you probably need to rethink the message.
Does that make sense?
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