Plain-speak

Most days here are spent deep in data, analytics, insights and ‘speeds and feeds’.  Such is life at a company whose entire business is underpinned in every way by massive amounts of data.

It’s easy to get lost in the data and lose the ability to understand, let alone translate, that data into something another human being can make sense of.  Its still another thing to take that understanding, translate it to someone else and then he or she makes an impactful decision with it.

I’ve been spending time thinking about how we can take all the signals we receive and turn those into insights and information that a publisher can use to gain more understanding of their readership, or to better know how others view them, or how they compare to another group of like publishers as a reference point to improve.

People want to work with other people that they like and trust.

When people don’t understand what you do or what the meaning of something is, they tend to be intimidated by it.  Too often I see a move to ‘wrap’ a difficult topic in lots of words; sprinkle some heady-sounding jargon and a few acronyms around whatever it is you’re pitching starts to sound important and interesting, albeit opaque.  The intimidated tend to assume you’re smarter or know more about ‘such-and-such’ than they do.

For a period of time they assume what you’re suggesting is smart and somehow valuable – only they just don’t get it, yet…. The catch: once they begin to understand more clearly, the fancy sounding words wear off and they’re left with what you do.  If it’s not everything they expected or wanted or thought it was, well, then they lose trust.  When trust goes down it infects everything else you do subsequently.  Worse, if they don’t like you for whatever reason, your screwed.

There’s a reason why Steve Jobs was adamant about things such as: no more than 3 click to buy a song.  Or why Amazon patented 1-click purchasing.  We as people like things that just work.  No fuss and no gimmicks.  My wife knows that most consumer electronics I put to the “walter test” which is to say: can I make it work as advertised without reading any instructions?  If not, it doesn’t pass and I don’t buy.

I’m most impressed by things that speak to me plainly, honestly, and with a clear description of why I ought to care.  In a world of too much data noise its tough to cut through it with simplicity and humanity.  The companies that can do both, win.  Its hard, I get it.  But to me the best answer is often the simplest and easiest to understand one.

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