Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft

Posted: 11th June 2010

In an attempt to get more WiRE members listing their business on the WiRE Rural Market Place we have been putting together a “how to guide”. (BTW, why, oh why don’t you? It takes about 15 minutes and it’s another opportunity to market your business AND it’s where other WiRE members often look first for products and services – Rant over).

The guide took considerably longer than expected because there is much detail: is it cross referenced correctly, is that what the screen grab really looks like, are we using the same terminology all the way through, is the example consistent, is that the correct url etc etc. But mainly it was a really difficult exercise because everybody here in the WiRE office knows the Rural Market Place so well. We tended to assume a level of understanding which isn’t necessarily there, thus run the risk of alienated and disengaged users (never using the Rural Market Place, no matter how good it is for their business). 

It struck us that this is a much wider issue and not just about instruction manuals, it’s about every bit of communication with customers (marketing, advertising, instructions, directions etc) – are we talking to ourselves, or our customers?

Remember the school exercise; the teacher asks an 8 year old to write down how to make a cup of tea for an alien? An 8 year old will say “fill the kettle with water, put the tea bag in the cup” etc. To which the teacher (the alien!) responds, what’s a kettle? What’s water? Until the 8 year old understands – they know things the alien doesn’t.  

So if you know things that your customer doesn’t, you’ll need to find a way to help them understand your planet. While also remembering that not every customer is an “alien” some will be on your planet and you can’t risk losing their custom by talking down to them. To talk to everybody, you have to spin your pitch in several different ways; the “quick guide” and the “tell me more options” for example, different methods for different levels.

There is a great book by Steven Krug on Web Usability called “Don’t Make Me Think” but maybe it’s a concept that should be applied to all communication.

The link to the guide is HERE in case WiRE Members have been shamed into updaing their profile.

 Again thank you for the music for giving me the title, a nod to the great Karen Carpenter. Click HERE for a great 70’s Video