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Your Co-Workers, the 5-Year-Olds


DATA-DRIVEN CMO is an ongoing series on the Brooks Bell Blog that focuses on topics for the modern day data-driven CMO.

“Explain this to me like I’m a 5-year-old.”

We’ve all heard this line or some variation of it. The phrase is normally uttered after hearing something incredibly complicated or confusing. The terms used may be industry-speak. The concept may be too advanced for the audience. Or maybe it’s simply the wrong audience.

Young boy listening to a cup and string

Here’s the cold, hard truth. You may not be getting any traction on your optimization program and budgets because your colleagues have no clue what you are talking about. It‘s easy to fall into the deadly vortex of industry-speak. After all, you live and breathe optimization! And so do your team, your vendors, and (depending on how much work you bring home) your family. But using jargon on just anyone is a huge mistake! Do your colleagues really know what you are doing and why you are doing it? Are we (those in the optimization world) just talking to each other?

I have mentioned in previous posts that the key to a high-producing optimization team and creating focused goals is a cultural shift in your organization. You must have a culture that believes in the value of testing. To achieve alignment in your goals, you need to achieve alignment in your team’s understanding of the goals.

Here are three ways you can communicate more effectively with your colleagues and get greater alignment in the goals of your optimization program.

1. Focus the discussion on them, not you.

The idea of testing and optimization may seem simple to you, but complex to your colleagues. Part of this reason may simply be an unwillingness to learn about it because of fears. Try opening a meeting with everyone by asking this open-ended question:

“What I’m hearing about testing and optimization makes me feel ________”

You may be surprised by what you hear. Some of your colleague’s concerns may be based on misinformation—which means their fears can be easily overcome. Or they may have legitimate fears that highlight something you had not considered. Either way it’s a win-win.

2. Educate on terminology.

You may be talking with your team about your “primary conversion event,” but do your colleagues in other departments know what a “conversion” really means to you and the organization? Do you quickly drop acronyms in presentations like a rapper in a rap battle? When presenting to your peers, it isn’t weird to take a moment and quickly define what your acronyms mean. Don’t take your knowledge for granted. Making sure your colleagues know what you’re talking about is half the battle.

3. Use your internal personas or personify a customer for your colleagues.

Many times we get caught up in describing our customers like “Returning User Group” or “Control Group”. Again, this means a lot to marketers, but not so much to other departments. Your company may have internal names for customer profiles and personas. Why not use them?

True collaboration can be achieved when your colleagues actually know what you are talking about. These are three ways out of hundreds to more effectively communicate. Can you think of others?