Improve how you explain and matching buyer knowledge

Explaining is something we take for granted every day (blokes be careful :). When we’re with our work colleagues, our tech-talk is fine, but sometimes you need to start at the start.  In this article I’ll review some ideas from the book “The Art of Explanation” by Lee Lefever.

Or perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end of a poor explanation.  I remember attending some very confusing accounting lectures about credits and debits without giving context.  I was lost.  Feeling too stupid to ask questions, I felt dis-empowered.  Had he started with the bigger picture needs of businesses to make profits, and so on, it could have been different.

With a bit of for-thought, we can inspire others with a great explanation.

The knowledge spectrum – What’s the ‘big idea’

Imagine that all the knowledge about your product or service as a spectrum from A to Z.

As an expert, you’re at the Z end of the knowledge spectrum for your industry.  But it’s easy to forget or even realise most people (including your prospects) will be at the A end.  This is the ‘curse of knowledge’.  We need to  plan carefully how we explain to folk at the A end, without using technical jargon or industry lingo.  People at the A end, will need more context, more of the ‘Why’.  People at the Z end, need more technical information – the ‘How’. 

In video marketing we talk about building awareness at the top of the funnel, for folk unaware of your solution, then creating a favourable attitude to your solution, through to a call to action to ask for the business.  This is the same A to Z of understanding ->desire ->purchase.


One more thing about the Curse of Knowledge.  It doesn’t matter to someone without knowledge if we miss out the details and even if this means our explanation is, in our view, a bit inaccurate.  It is better to get the big idea across.

The Cost of Understanding

Time is money right? And it takes time to learn something.  Like how a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can help your business and which one will suit you best.  So if you can get your point across better/ quicker, you win.  (Hmm, try videos?)

Define your Explanation Problem

Ask yourself this.  Are there people who could benefit from your product or service, but who don’t understand enough about the category to make an informed decision?  Does your website quickly and easily answer their questions?   If not, you have an explanation problem.

PART 2 – Improving Explanations

Give Good Context

A good explanation is more than a description or a list of facts. It makes the receiver care because it provides context and the ‘why’ of the issue. Like my accounting example at the start, if you can explain  the background context, they’ll be more interested. They’ll be turned on, to the subject, not turned off.

The context is a good place to raise people’s awareness of the problem or pain that your solution addresses. 

Build Connections

Build on something people are familiar with to explain something new. With the CRM example, you might start with: “you know how all your emails are stored in Microsoft Outlook. Wouldn’t it be handy if you could easily keep track and measure all your interactions with a company, including your emails”… and so on.  We stretch people’s understanding of the familiar to cover something similar but new.

Tell a Story

You’re probably familiar with this technique to put you in the shoes of the main character: “Here’s Jane. Jane designs marketing strategies for other small businesses, but she has trouble showing them exactly what the benefits will be. Boo. Then Jane made a web video to explain what she does and she got other past customers to talk about the benefits. Now Jane has a queue of customers wanting her service. Yey…. Lots of animation videos follow this pattern.  We see the subject or issue from Jane’s perspective.

You’ll see all these techniques used in this Dropbox video clip.


Once you get to the Z or “How” end of the knowledge spectrum (or sales funnel), you can pretty much jump to describing what to do, like a set of instructions.  Here’s one I made when first starting Clips That Sell 10 years ago.

Pulling it together

It comes back to knowing who you’re talking to, and their level of knowledge. It’s pretty self evident you need more explanation and reasoning (or ‘Why’) for someone with little knowledge of a subject, and a more concise description of facts for someone already well armed. Many times your audience will include a mix of folk with less or more knowledge. In this case, err on the side of caution by still covering off the basics. Those who know the topic well won’t mind the refresher, but you don’t want to scare off those folk with less knowledge on the subject. Instead get them to a point where they start to care.

If you’re a business in Melbourne wondering how this can be applied in your business, I’m more than happy to have a chat and help come up with a range of video scripts.  Check out our packages, some of which suit different stages of the sales funnel, and  Give me a call.  

By Keith Rhodes