“I can’t write about that, everyone in my industry already knows it.”
A friend recently said that to me. They were worried that the marketing content they were working on was too rudimentary, too basic to be impressive.
Have you ever worried about that?
If so, remember: You’re writing it, not reading it.
Your audience isn’t you, or someone like you. It’s not a fellow expert in your field, or the competitors you fear are tracking your every move so they can mock you behind your back.
(They’re not, by the way).
Your audience are potential customers, and they don’t know what you know. If they did, they wouldn’t need you, and they wouldn’t be potential customers in the first place.
You’re so interested in this stuff that you started a business around it. They didn’t.
Yes, they want your unique take and your original perspective, but they don’t want content that’s way over their heads or weighed down with jargon.
They want something that will help them. Which, to you, might feel pretty basic. It might even feel fundamental, instead of revolutionary.
The goal isn’t to show off, it’s to help. What you offer is your ability to explain your industry, your product, your service, and your abilities in ways people who aren’t experts can understand.
Not in ways that will impress your peers.
As Scott Montgomery writes in The Chicago Guide to Communicating Science, “In nearly all cases, true authorial expertise … lies in subtlety and restraint, not showmanship.”
Writing, he says, “is always a form of teaching—an attempt to give the readers what they did not have before.”
Write what you know. Write it clearly, simply, and repeatedly. Rely on Hemingway’s “Principle of the iceberg,” where “there is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows.”
Yes, as he wrote, “a good writer should know as near everything as possible,” but trying to prove it by overwhelming your audience with agonizing detail will backfire.
They’ll recognize that you know something, but they won’t know that you can help them.
Instead, your audience needs to understand what you offer, why it’s valuable, and how it will help them overcome a particular struggle in their life.
But first, they need to read it—which means it has to be written at a level they’ll enjoy and appreciate. Not at your level, but theirs.
So don’t try to impress, try to explain.
And remember that you’re writing it, not reading it.
It’s not for you.
It’s for them.