Giving Wow to Obscurity

Here’s a great LinkedIn question that Will Conley posed on February 21, 2008:

What are some effective ways to communicate a web development company’s complex, obscure abilities in a way that is accessible—without sacrificing the wow-factor?

You can substitute the name of almost any industry for “web development company” without changing the meaning of the question, because if you get down to the details of the processes involved, almost anything is obscure and confusing to outsiders. And probably not all that interesting, either. That could be why every marketing coach I’ve ever met warns you not to talk about the process when people ask what you do.

But here’s what I actually said:

There won’t be a wow factor for most people if you can’t describe what you do in plain English. Showing it may also help—before and after shots of websites you’ve revamped, or your widgets in action.

Perhaps sit down with someone who isn’t in your industry, show your stuff, and ask him or her to describe the bits that s/he found most impressive. Remember to ask how these services make the client’s life easier and benefit the client’s business.

That’s what I used to do when interviewing members of the IT department at a client’s company for the newsletter I used to write for the rest of the employees to read. I knew the readers didn’t care about the details of hardware and software. They cared about how the changes were going to affect them.

And even the geekiest prospects only care about a product’s features or a consultant’s skills because of the results they achieve. That’s where you find the wow.

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