When knowledge actually isn't power

Published Nov 11, 2016 | Written by Jeremy Knight

A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted this great article by Eddie Shleyner, which appeared on HubSpot's Marketing Blog. In it, Eddie talks about "The Curse of Knowledge", which first afflicted him at the tender age of eight. 

After Eddie finally found Waldo (that's Wally to us here in the UK) in a particularly tricky scene from the famous children's books, he simply couldn't fathom how other people were struggling - despite having laboured over the task himself. In other words, Eddie forgot what it's like to not know something; to still be learning. 

As content marketers, we are often guilty of doing the same. We forget that just because we understand a topic (likely after spending lots of time getting our heads around it), our target audience may not share our comprehension. 

This is, as Eddie says, The Curse of Knowledge. He goes on to offer seven useful tips for combating the Curse. 

That's why it's so important to understand your buyer personas before creating content. What do they already know? And what don't they know? How can you best communicate and engage with them?

This doesn't mean patronising your audience or over-simplifying your subject matter - but, rather, reaching them at their sweet spot. 

As the saying goes, knowledge is power - except, when it isn't. The best content marketers use their knowledge in a different way - they distil it into a form suitable for their readers to consume. 

And, in doing so, they curse-proof their content.


Can your writing be cursed?

The Curse of Knowledge is a documented cognitive bias. It affects us all, especially when we write. It's particularly dangerous on paper because, unlike being face-to-face, readers (i.e., listeners) can't ask questions and writers (i.e., tappers) can’t gauge reactions.

The Curse can sneak its way into an email, a landing page, a web page, or a blog post, which is why anyone who writes should be perking up right now...

Published by Jeremy Knight November 11, 2016
Jeremy Knight