It’s Wise To Be Ignorant – Why Writing About What You Don't Know Keeps Your Marketing Fresh

 Act like a lone detective to unearth the interesting stuff for your customers.            Photo: Marten Newhall

Act like a lone detective to unearth the interesting stuff for your customers.            Photo: Marten Newhall

It’s Wise To Be Ignorant

Why writing about what you don't know, rather that what you do, makes for more interesting marketing content.


A problem many of us have with our marketing content is that it’s hard to keep it fresh. 
Customers have often heard it all before and they quickly tune out of what you have to say. And for the marketer writing the content, it becomes boring if you’re writing about what you know well already. Chances are you have probably known it all for a while, so the spark might not be there anymore.

Welcome to The Wisdom of Ignorance
A previous colleague of mine, Niki, introduced me to a pretty interesting idea called ‘The Wisdom of Ignorance’. 

What Niki told me was that having an instant, uninformed opinion on a new topic often results in better, fresher marketing ideas.  

So how do you write interesting stuff that customers will read?
You do it by writing for yourself first and by writing about what you don't know. You write from a place of ignorance, even though it goes against the usual advice of, ‘write about what you know’. 
 
In this article, I take a little look at why writing about what you don't know makes you produce better content than your competition, and helps you grow. 

So let’s get going…

The odds are that you know what's going on in your field (otherwise you wouldn't be starting or running your business). But knowing as much as other businesses is not enough – all it means is that you're going to churn out the same content as them.
 
But (as you may have read in previous newsletters) we are in the interruption game.
We are here to interrupt customers from their normal buying habits and to get them to spot something that's different from the norm. (Customers’ brains are wired to spot differences from the norm, so we need to take advantage as a small business).

You need to be a lone detective, like Poirot.
If you go deeper into a topic that you don’t know about, it will give you an advantage over your competitors. Why? Because if you explore a topic in real detail, chances are you’ll discover something new or different that you can impress people with. Who knows, you might even start the ball rolling to becoming a leader in your field!
 
And the chances are that if you don't know about something, your competition won't either.
You need to be a detective and answer it for yourself.
 
But where do you start?
You start with real life examples. Take the time to analyse them and break them down into little elements. 

Let me start however with my own bitter experience of what happens when you don’t use examples (cue face-palm). 
When we write about what we know, we often stay too broad and top-level, which isn’t much use to anyone. I fell into this trap recently when I wrote a 2.5k word article about a topic that I knew about, but I didn’t look at live examples and just relied on what I knew.

So when my eagle-eyed wife got her hands on what I’d written, she pointed out that it was too general, had too much assumed knowledge and wasn’t actually very helpful. Back to the drawing board with that one. Dang, drat, fiddlesticks.
 
It felt like a little kick in the gut, but by then changing tack and deep diving into examples, my next piece turned out much better.

Let’s read on…

My next piece was a mini-course on 'How to write the opening paragraph to your sales page'. This time, I didn't start with what was in my head that I already knew. Instead, I researched examples of other small businesses' opening words to their sales pages. Ones that I liked and I knew were doing well.
 
Ones such as Soylent, Apple, CrazyEgg and pulled them apart until I could pull them apart no longer. 
After a while, I started to see all the elements that make up a decent opening paragraph. Elements that I could then own and put into a sequence so clear that I could teach others about them.

I saw things in a new light and I ended up with better, clearer ideas than before.

So taking the time to discover new information about a topic, rather than relying on what we already know and regurgitating what others say, is what stops us from being ‘average’. 

If we deep-dive into live examples, we keep a fresh perspective, we learn at a better rate than our competitors, and therefore what we create will be fresher and more interesting to read.
 
Delving into a new topic in detail is a humbling experience that reminds us that we will never know it all. Like Poirot, you need to be the one the ground, getting your hands dirty and digging deeper until you find that answer that no one else thought to find. 

And in doing so, you’ll be creating something that stands out from all the other bland mulch out there. 

So, despite what you might think, it’s wise to be ignorant sometimes.

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