The Curse of Knowledge

Did you know...

There's a strange quirk of human nature that affects absolutely EVERYONE... and yet, almost no one ever talks about.

It's called the Curse of Knowledge.

The people that are most damaged by it are experts, consultants, teachers, sales professionals, marketers, copywriters, and everyone else trying to communicate high level concepts and ideas.

Let me explain how it's affecting you and what you can do about it to make your messages and communications hit home every time.

The curse of knowledge is a phenomenon that occurs when we learn new information. We tend to instantly think everyone else already knows that information.

It happens automatically but we can't recognize it until it's pointed out to us.

To show you exactly what I mean,

There was an interesting experiment some science nerds did to prove it

They took a child (let's call him Kid 1) into one of those classic research rooms with a table and an M&M's box on it.

They asked the kid 1 to do one thing,

Guess what's in the box.

If you think he said "M&M's", you would be right.

Then the kid opened the box to discover a cruel trick... it was actually full... of pencils!

The interesting thing happened when they took kid 1 into the adjacent room and watched through a one way mirror as kid 2 was brought in to also guess what was in the box.

"What do you think kid 2 will guess is in the box? Asked the researchers.

"Pencils" replied kid 1.

Isn't that weird? His past experience changed his perception. In fact, he couldn't even imagine the other kid NOT knowing there were pencils in there.

Despite the "obvious" fact that kid 2 had no reason to believe the M&M box contained pencils.

Now this is where this post gets relevant to you and I.

I'll use myself as an example...

I know marketing and copywriting.
In fact, I know a ton about these subjects.  Off the top of my head I can think of 72 ways to improve a business right now.

Yet even I tend to start thinking "Oh everybody knows all about these things".

There's no way people will pay for this stuff- It's obvious!

Of course everybody understands direct response copywriting, marketing funnels, or core principles of effective advertising.

Or one of the 1000 other things that are so ordinary to me that it's hard to believe they aren't obvious to every business owner and even other marketers or copywriters.

Yes- even if you are talking to other people in your field, there is an excellent chance that they will not understand what you're talking about.

It turns out that not a lot of people read 3-4 books a week, or have scoured the internet for every old copywriting, advertising, and marketing book out there.

"That's just what everybody else does, right?"

The truth is no, it's not what everyone else does. There are few people who even study the history of their own field, outside of school of course.

So if you want to make sure you aren't affected by the curse of knowledge, the solution is this...

 Always Make Sure
You Point Out
The Obvious!

Explain the concepts and ideas in plain English that are obvious to you, and that you think should be obvious to others.

If you're using lots of lingo and jargon, there's a great chance the people you're talking to will get lost.  Even if they're "experts" in your field.

Keep this in mind if you are selling a solution.  Your target market isn't guaranteed to understand what it is, what it does, or any of the words you're using.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule.

If you are trying to create mystique, or purposefully using "high falutin" language to make yourself sound more authoritative and your work more valuable, or creating rapport by using the "secret language" of your target market- Then yes, don't worry about the curse of knowledge.

For EVERYONE else, keep this in mind and you will be much more persuasive...because people will actually know what the hell you're talking about.

Talk later,

Ben.