My mother loved me like mothers do, unconditionally, and was impressed by the successes in my career. But I often wonder whether she ever truly understood what I did.
It can’t have been her fault; she was a very bright and capable person, who inspired the students that she taught and the many friends she had. As an English teacher, she taught me the value of using words creatively, yet carefully.
No, if my Mum didn’t understand what I did, that was my fault. I hadn’t managed to explain my latest exploit in language that was simple and clear. I hadn’t used the words, images or analogies that would have made sense to her.
What relevance has this to working with people now, to develop their value proposition, to build their business strategy?
Well, after crafting another finely honed business plan or marketing idea, I ask myself, “Would my Mum understand this?”
And if the answer is “No”, the rewrite begins.
Too often, we take refuge in jargon, hoping that our use of the phrases that are common in our industry will show that we’re part of what’s going on. But for our customers, we’re talking gobbledegook.
Plain, simple explanations of what we have to offer. Using the language that our customers would naturally use themselves. That’s what we need.
Would your mother understand your proposition?
Rob Skinner says
Matthew – wise words as always. I think the mum test goes a step further. Its not just “would my mother understand this?” Its also “would she think it was any good?!” Looking at both these perspectives can be an even more leveling experience for concepts that are overly complex.
Matthew Goldsbrough says
Thanks for your comment. My mum thought what I did was good, long before she understood it! Isn’t that what all mums do?