The Surprising Power & Challenge of Saying Obvious Things

3 Comments 11.25.12

You’d be surprised what uses of social media seem so obvious to some of us with just a few years of experience that they don’t seem worth articulating – but that aren’t intuitive to other people. Maybe they just aren’t obvious at all and it’s a sign of immature communication skills when we (I) think they are.

For example, our fabulous mentor Vidya Spandana asked me last week why one of our customers ran reports in Little Bird on their target markets and I said, “well, because when the most influential people in an industry are thinking about you and talking about you, they are more likely to spend money with you or recommend that other people do!” I thought that was obvious but she said it was not and that I should write it down and use it like marketing gold. Many other people I’ve mentioned it to since then have agreed. Vidya guided me through a number of use cases of our software, articulating the ultimate goal of the customer even if it seemed obvious to me, then making it more and more simple, general, comprehensible and easy for our next customers to relate to. It was a fascinating revalation.

It turns out that when working to help people adopt technologies that are new to them but not to you, an inability to describe the forest but for the trees comes at a real cost in terms of effectiveness. Articulating the fundamentals isn’t always easy, though. I suspect like many things, it takes practice and experience.

Readers, if you have other examples of qualities of social software that seemed to go without saying to you, but that you found out weren’t obvious to other people, I’d love to read about them in comments below.


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  • http://twitter.com/grmeyer Greg Meyer

    Marshall – I love this idea. I think another obvious and not always commonly-noticed insight is that when multiple customers tell you about the same “something new” or “something useful” that they’ve noticed about your product, that’s a place where you should invest more heavily.

  • http://plexusengine.com/ Marshall Kirkpatrick

    That’s a good one, Greg. We’ve heard some of that for sure. I sure appreciate your ongoing support and advice, by the way. Real nice to hear from you again.

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