Once upon a time, there was a man called Joe. Joe was very clever, very driven and very passionate. He had all the qualities needed to create a special widget. An all-singing, all-dancing widget, clad head to toe in bells and whistles.
“It’s my life’s work,” Joe would tell everyone. And he wasn’t lying. He spent his days refining it, his evenings testing it, and his weekends agonising over it. You could say beyond all doubt that his widget was the best ever made. And you could say with equal certainty that nobody knew as much about his widget as he did.
When the widget was finished, Joe sat down and wrote all the marketing materials he’d need to sell his widget. Not only was he a gifted inventor, he was also a most able writer. He wrote ads, emails, web copy, blogs, brochures and manuals. He tackled all these with the same drive and passion he applied to his invention.
To showcase his widget in all its glory, he commissioned the best design agency he could to create a brand identity, a brochure, and a website – which he made sure was ‘optimised’ and ‘enhanced’ using all of today’s clever tricks. So people could find the world’s best widget, wherever they lived.
When everything was ready, Joe launched his widget to the world and waited for the surge of interest, the deluge of meetings, and the flood of orders. But apart from one call from a water cooler company, two calls from a recruiter and a wrong number, his phone remained silent, his in-box empty, and his website unvisited.
And the reason?
He had what Stephen Pinker calls ‘the curse of knowledge’. He told people what his widget was made of. What it looked like. The processes he used. How long it took. How shiny it was. He told them everything there was to know, except what the widget could do for them.