Mastering Clear Business Communication

This week, Colin C. Campbell spoke with Ben Guttmann, the author of the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award Winning book “Simply Put: Why Clear Messages Win and How to Design Them.” Their conversation discussed the vital role of clear and concise communication in the business world, with a particular focus on its significance for startups and entrepreneurs.

“Achieving simplicity is often more challenging than creating complexity.”

Ben Guttmann

Guttmann emphasized the paramount importance of simplicity in messaging, pointing out that achieving simplicity is often more challenging than creating complexity. He shared five essential principles from his book: beneficial (emphasizing customer benefits over product features), focused (conveying a single, clear idea), salient (standing out amidst the noise), empathetic (speaking in the audience’s language), and minimal (eliminating unnecessary elements). He underscored that the onus of effective communication lies with the sender, stressing the need for businesses to connect with their audience on their terms.

The conversation also explored the evolving landscape of communication in the digital age. Guttmann discussed the impact of social media platforms on language and messaging, highlighting the importance of user experience design in reducing friction in communication rather than merely cutting down word count. He shared his thoughts on the potential applications of AI in simplifying messages but cautioned against an over-reliance on AI-generated content, which may lack authenticity.

Overall, the discussion reinforced the enduring value of clear, authentic communication in today’s increasingly complex business environment. Guttmann’s insights serve as a reminder that, despite technological advancements, the principles of effective communication remain fundamentally rooted in simplicity and empathy. Listen to the full conversation above!

  • Read the Transcript

    You’re listening to Start, Scale, Exit, Repeat, Serial Entrepreneur Secrets Revealed. And by the way, today’s a really cool show. We’re going to be talking to Ben Guttmann, who is one of the top authors in the United States right now.

    He, he won the gold medal at the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for the book Simply Put. And we’re going to say, we’re going to figure out, you know, how can we simplify our startup? Like, how can we make our messaging, our communications more simple and more effective? And what I like about the book is it really does break down the concepts and makes it easy for us to figure out how to succeed at our startup and communicate.

    And I know that, you know, the 30 second elevator pitch, that’s key. But if you’re listening to this in podcast or you’re listening to this on YouTube, uh, you might not know this, but this is actually a live show on Clubhouse. We do it every Friday, 2 o’clock Eastern. And it’s pretty cool because you can come on stage.

    You can talk to, you can talk to Ben, like, you know, you can talk to authors. You can really connect, you can share your expertise. It is a live show. We’re not a traditional podcast and it’s a lot of fun. Uh, today’s show is all about simply put Michelle, who is our co host. What are your thoughts about today’s show?

    I mean, I’m excited, Ben, and we’re going to get to you in a minute, but I’m excited, But Michelle, what are your thoughts? I mean, I love this, um, Ben, you know, for me. It’s so interesting, right? Because people think, Oh, you have to be so fancy and just say the right thing and do the right thing to close the cell, to be successful, whatever it is.

    But what I have found is like. If you could just like focus and concentrate on a minimal amount of words to say, you know, I, what I see in your book is the communication, like really be deliberate about communication, not trying to talk people into things, just really. Trying to add value there can make a huge difference.

    So I love that you wrote this book and I’m so excited to hear what you have to say.

    Thanks so much, Michelle. I really appreciate that. And thank you, Colin, for, for all the wonderful words. Uh, by the way, Colin, uh, was also in the same category for, uh, his book, start scale, exit, repeat. Uh, and it’s, you know, very high praise to be, to be next to his book. So, uh, I appreciate you having me on and.

    Uh, this has been, uh, this has been a fun, uh, fun process so far, and I’m looking forward to sharing with you guys more. Yeah, and I was in the audience, you know, sort of like an Oscar style audience, and I’m there with my wife, and there are three nominees, and uh, um, I’m sitting there, I’m like, okay, you know, whatever, let’s see what happens, and the winner is, simply put, by Ben Guttmann.

    And you know what, I was actually, I’m obviously I’m excited that start scale eggs repeat, uh, finished second or silver medal. Uh, but I do think that your book is amazing. Uh, I’ve, I’ve, uh, gone through it and I read half of it. Sorry. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but I’ve read. I’ve read half of it.

    And I just think it really, uh, Touches a broader audience and touches touches the message that that I think we often forget, especially in the corporate world, Michelle, like, you know, you’ve been a lot in the corporate world, but this idea of simply messaging so you can accomplish greater goals. And maybe that’s the 1st question, Ben, like, does it actually help you?

    And can you explain how? Yeah, certainly. So, uh, also, by the way, I found out that, uh, I won that. Award from you, so I appreciate I appreciate the email that you sent me that evening, too. Um, so just backing up into so what do we mean by simplicity and what do we mean by simple communications? So, let’s strip out all of the different things that normally get in the way.

    And if you look at the communications equation, there’s basically 2 pieces. We have senders, And receivers, right? And so you could be a marketer. You could be an executive, an advocate. Those are the senders, the receivers. That’s the other end of the equation, right? Those are customers. Those are buyers, voters, donors, but if we take away all the different, you know, things that usually confuse us, and we just look at those two halves when we’re receiver, we want things in a certain way.

    And senders are really ill equipped to get us there. So when we’re receivers, we want something known. Right. Right. As fluency, right? And so we know the word fluency, right? You can be fluent in English or Spanish or Mandarin. But if you ask the cognitive scientists about the word fluency, they’re going to say, well, that describes how easy is it for you to take something from out in the world, stick it in your head and make sense of it.

    Right? And so the easier that is, the less kind of mental cycles you have to go through less what you have to break to do that. All the evidence points in the same direction. We are more likely to like it, more likely to trust it. I’m more likely to buy it. All the things we want to do as a marketer, as an executive, as an entrepreneur.

    Now, the inverse is also true, right? If we make it too hard, if it takes a lot of sweat, mental cycles, we don’t like it. We don’t trust that. We don’t buy it. Right? And so the problem is, though, As senders, we’re pulled in that opposite direction where we’ve, we’ve, uh, are beholden to things inside our head, like additive biases, and we’re outside in terms of what all the market forces of resumes and press cycles, all these things are pulling us in that other direction.

    And so what we end up with is this big gap, and that’s where most of the messaging, if it’s marketing or if it’s internal or wherever, that’s where most messaging falls. It just kind of falls short of where receivers need it to be.

    And so, so based on that, like, how does a startup, how do you take what you just talked about and apply that to a, because a lot of our people in our audience here, they’re, they’re looking at starting a business. They’re already started a business. They may have been successful, but they want to scale it.

    So how do you apply what you just said to startups? Oh, certainly. So one thing I see. When it comes to startups, there’s there’s a big challenge that a lot of folks have in terms of thinking. So actually, let me back up a second. I identify five principles that help us get to that state of fluency to that state of simplicity.

    And the first one is beneficial, which is what does it matter to the receiver? What’s in it for them? Right. If you’re in sales, you know, marketing is like kind of sales 101, right? We buy benefits. We don’t buy features. I think that is something a lot of startups can sometimes trip over themselves when they’re, when they’re working on their communication.

    Because we get really excited over what something is built in. Oh, it’s an AI this, it’s a web three that. That’s not why people are buying your stuff. That’s not why people are choosing your stuff. There’s a sentence that I tell my students all the time, uh, that I tell them if you don’t remember. Anything else from this entire class or from this entire degree, you’re taking, if you remember this, you’re going to be ahead of most people, which is, it’s not even mine, by the way, it’s from Theodore Leavitt, who taught at Harvard in the 60s, it’s people don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.

    We don’t want the thing that one thing does for us, right? I don’t want a mouse trap. I want dead mice, but when we’re in the kind of thick of it, especially if we’re coming from a technical background, we can get so enamored with talking about how nice the drill is, but without actually talking about what it does for anybody.

    And you know, it’s funny. I’ve invested in a company. It’s driving me nuts. This founder is all he will ever do is talk about the widgets, how good this works, how good that works. And I’m like, you got to step out of that. You got to, you got to begin to understand what are the benefits to the customer and talk in those terms.

    Cause we often see this, this syndrome in startups, uh, where they just, they’re so enthralled, you know, it’s like the, um, I don’t know. It’s like the, they’re like a, they’re, uh, I was going to say professor, but you know, like this inventor and this inventor syndrome and all they want to do is talk about their invention or talk about the app or talk about this style, but they don’t want to talk about the whole.

    That you talk about. I find that fascinating. Oh, absolutely. I mean, I, I, I think this is something particularly when you come from a technical background and all the folks I know that come from a technical background. It is very cool stuff, right? You can get very enamored with the, the really novel and, and um, It’s just fun technology.

    You get to build. That’s not why people choose the things they choose that nobody’s going out saying, Hey, I really want to get an A. I power this, right? Even if you look at, you know, chat, I don’t want an A. I power chat, but I want a box that I can type into that. I get information out of, right? Yeah, that’s where I want.

    Even if you want to go deeper, you can say, I want to get the answers to my questions that are out there. Um, helpfully, though, there is a very appropriately simple tool we can use. To get to the kind of benefit level, so you can take the feature and you can just interrogate it with the two word phrase. So what?

    So what? Yeah, let’s let’s look at something like toothpaste. For instance, is my. Kind of go to example look at the mint flavor in your toothpaste. That’s a feature, right? That’s something you can crack open your five senses and you can see it right you can you can taste it You can smell it. That is something that is tangible and exists.

    But if you ask well, I don’t really want mint toothpaste That’s not why I’m buying it. I say well, so what? Well, that means I get fresh breath, right? Okay, well, now we’re starting to get somewhere a little bit. We have functional benefit. That’s what I call that first level. And you say, okay, well, mint flavor, so what?

    Fresh breath. Well, if you ask it again, if you go and you say, well, fresh breath, is that actually what I want? Not really. So what about fresh breath? Well, it’s so that I can have a more successful date tonight, right? And that’s getting a little bit deeper, right? That’s getting you to what I call the emotional benefit level.

    So all of a sudden we’re, you know, by just two levels down, we’re getting to the actual thing that drives us. But if you ask it one more time, the third one is the, is the magic trick here. You say, well, why do I want to have the more successful date? So what? You can get to that kind of thing you see in every psychology textbook, the management presentation, you know, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

    You can say, well, that meets helps me meet my love and belonging need. Right? And we can all of a sudden turn around and say. Well, let’s invest proportionally in our messaging at each one of those levels to be able to actually meet where our receivers are coming from. Yeah, I thought we were gonna go for the kiss on that one.

    That’s what I, when you started talking about that, I’m like, yeah, and then I was going to go a little further, but I wasn’t going to do that. Okay, Michelle, sorry. Go ahead. Yeah, I mean, I love where you’re going with this, right? Like, for us, we’re always talking about, like, what is the need you’re trying to satisfy?

    And, um, I’m going to go a step further and just say, just like. Asking people like traditional marketing and just describing, like it, it’s not what does the deal, right? Like you said, you have to really meet the need and, um, be able to communicate that, but I think communication is an underrated skill, Ben.

    I’m just going to say that I’m going to put that out there. Like, you know, we’re in a world, like you said, everyone’s wants to be so tech and we’re all in our head and enamored with our, you know, inventions. But, um, You know, let’s, let’s get back to basics, right? Oh, a hundred percent. I like to say actually that, uh, and I tell this to my students in terms of their careers, but I think it certainly applies in entrepreneurship, uh, which is there’s basically like three force multipliers you can look at.

    Uh, one of them is writing, right? If you are a very good writer and you’re able to take your ideas and communicate them in a way, uh, that. Sells your stuff that gets your point across that convinces somebody of something that will allow you to take something that might be like an okay product and really elevated the second one a little bit less applicable to, you know, to everybody, but is.

    Uh, speaking, if you’re able to get up on stage, if you’re comfortable getting up on stage and talking about the work that you do or the ideas that you have, or even just speaking in a meeting or giving, getting on a phone and doing a cold call to somebody, those type of things. Uh, can amplify pretty much everything else that you do.

    And the third one is design. And so this is something, my background is in design actually, uh, so I’m a little biased towards this, but I believe that if, it’s part of how we communicate also, it’s part of literally how your message looks is an important piece. So if you’re able to be A strong communicator visually in terms of your, you know, the UI of your app or the website that you’re putting together or just the packaging that can also get you further than you would if you just had a great product in and of itself.

    Oh my gosh, you’re speaking my language. I love this conversation. It’s so important. And, um, yeah, like you said, and, you know, we’ll, we’ll, We always kind of get back to AI here, not just because it’s trendy because it’s so applicable, but you know, I’m, I’m very interested and I don’t know if you want to jump to this yet, Colin, but what you’re saying, can AI even do this?

    Like, you know, how do you do this with AI? Because I’m going to say there is that human component, like you just said, that is so critically important. So, uh, it’s funny you mentioned AI. I just wrote a blog post about this. There was a study of, like, peer reviews that somebody did. They went to some conference and they, they, they got all the different peer reviews from other academics.

    And they looked at the prevalence of different words. And so the word like innovative, for instance, the word innovative, if you looked from, you know, 2018, 2019, 2021, it was kind of just, you know, flatline. It didn’t necessarily change too much from year to year in terms of the frequency. But if you looked at last year’s data, it shot way up, it shot way up.

    The word innovative appeared in everything. And then, you know, there’s another study I saw with the word delve, right? That appeared in a ton of different titles and all these big adjectives and adverbs. That are just kind of fluffy and don’t necessarily carry that much weight to them are all over the place.

    And the reason is because chat GPT loves those words. It loves adjectives, it loves adverbs, uh, and it loves the word delve in particular. And so you end up seeing a lot of people using this, uh, in, in a, in a way that. Um, you know, it’s funny the way you can tell that it’s chat GPT is because it’s not actually simple because it’s usually kind of, uh, you know, a little bit too, um, a little bit too fluffy necessarily, but drives me nuts.

    Right? Yeah. Like, I’ve been looking at the reviews for my book and your book and I’m like, Oh, my gosh. I keep saying this. If you’re going to do a review of the book, just be honest. Don’t do a cut and paste from Chachi B. T. and just this, this multi paragraph review. I love the review that says, yeah, this book was just damn cool or something like that, you know, because you, you get the sense it’s real.

    We can smell AI. A mile away and everyone can and I know I you can emulate it and we have tactics some tricks and you can train a custom GPT to emulate your writing and stuff like that. And we, you know, we talk a lot about that, but I just I really think that. There’s nothing more than the authentic self when it comes to these type of things.

    Oh, absolutely. I will say you can use AI in its current form because all this all this has to be caveated with that, right? You can use AI in its current form to improve. Your work, but it’s very hard for it to replace your work. Uh, I, I know somebody who’s a fellow author and, and, uh, he has to podcast and I was on his show and he was saying that he actually he took the lessons from this book fettered into chat gpt and used it to create a version of his Email offer going out and he ab tested them And the one that was kind of simply putified was, um, you know, again, unscientific, but it got a 40 percent better click through rate on that.

    And I was like, I’m going to take that statistic and I’m going to wave it from the rooftops because that’s really wonderful. But that’s an example where you can use it to say, hey, take this. Text that I wrote and make it simpler, make it, make it more benefits, make it more focused, make it more empathetic.

    You can, you can use it for that, but to your point of getting the whole thing from it right now in its current state, it’s, it’s not really great for them. Yeah. And I know we’re talking about startups today, but I worked for a fortune 500 company for three years after I sold one of my companies. And I can’t tell you how long winded and committees and words that were used.

    And like, it was, it was nothing. It was the opposite to simply put. And I almost wonder if your messages resonates better in the corporate community, uh, we’re going to get to startups in a second. And Amir and Ali, thank you for being patient. If you’re in the audience, you want to come on stage. This is your chance.

    Raise your hand. And we’ll bring you up so you can ask questions. This is a live show again. If you’re in podcast or on YouTube, uh, feel free to join us every Friday, 2 o’clock Eastern on clubhouse on startup club. Um, so the 1st question was corporate and then I’m going to go to that and I’ll ask another question.

    What startup and then we’ll open it up. Like, can you help corporate America, Ben? Oh, yeah. I mean, so when we talk about benefits, uh, in particular, uh, I kind of, um, I use the example. Of someone like Microsoft in there where, you know, they’ve gotten a lot better in the last couple of years of some of their stuff, but for a long time, they were kind of known as like the clunkier, uh, communicator, you know, when you compare them to something like Apple, right?

    Uh, and what I see a lot in corporate environments is that the benefits start to get really. Kind of fuzzy and they, they drift further and further out of focus, the bigger the company and the more time and space there is between the person doing the communicating and the problems that they’re trying to solve.

    And what happens is the features stay as tangible as ever. Right. You can still see them. You can still taste them. You can still hear them. But the benefits are, you know, that’s somebody miles away, you know, that I don’t know. That’s they’re getting the benefits. And so I, I see that is the, if you’re looking at that kind of big corporate environments, that’s the biggest challenge that I see.

    The other big challenge is seeing corporate environments. Is, uh, when we talk about empathy, and so when I talk about empathy in the book, it’s, are you speaking in the language that the audience understands, right? Are you meeting them where they are in terms of the little words that you’re using, but also their emotions, their motivations.

    When we’re in a corporate environment, we can develop our own language, right? We can go and, and, you know, sit around, uh, the conference table and use all sorts of jargon and acronyms that we, Begin to assume that everybody else kind of understands. Also, we begin to assume that everybody else calls this calls this thing X calls this thing Y.

    And we, you know, go ahead and write our marketing copy or emails or memos or press releases or whatever. And we use some of that language and it just falls completely flat because people outside of our bubble don’t communicate in the same way people in our bubble do. But isn’t it all about making yourself look like you’re smart?

    Oh, so that ends up backfiring too. Uh, there’s a great Doesn’t it? Exactly. Yeah. Um, so there’s a, there’s a number of great studies about this. Uh, so I’ll give you, I’ll give you real quick kind of two sketches of one. Uh, so first of all, it gives away our status. The bigger You know, deal we are turns out the less we end up using a lot of these big jargon, big kind of, you know, fluffy words, uh, in the United States, there’s like 130 international airports, uh, and these range in size from like where I am, JFK Airport, you know, international of thousands of flights to where my grandmother used to live in Montana, like Great Falls International Airport, which is like one little hallway and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

    They looked at how do these airports talk about themselves? They said, okay, well, let’s break it up into small airports and big airports. And I’m going to butcher the numbers off the top of my head, but something like, Uh, uh, the like, if you look at the big airports, how they describe themselves, they call themselves JFK or JFK international small.

    Uh, uh, uh, sorry. Big airports use the word international about 30 percent of the time, but small airports use the word international to describe themselves about 70 percent of the time. Right? Uh, and because that word carries this heft, right? Carries the status and proceeds with it. Uh, and the same type of thing would happen when you looked at how.

    Um, how people would would rate the language that you’re putting out there in terms of what kind of intelligence you have or how likely it is for you to be kind of accepted into a grad school program or a job application when you look at Kind of a stack of essays and you take them and you make them more complicated and you give them to a bunch of judges.

    They’re going to say that stack of essays is written by a less intelligent writer and somebody that I don’t want to accept into my program compared to the original stack of essays. I love this conversation and I’m going to put it out there. It is harder to make things simple. It is harder to sit there and edit and edit and really be honest with yourself and really hone in on the message.

    That’s what I think, Ben, but it’s worth it. Uh, that’s a thousand percent what it is. I had to joke about that on the first page of the book. And I say, uh, you know, the, the answer between what, why does some messages work and others don’t is simple. Literally. Uh, And if that’s enough for you, then don’t read the other 207 pages of the book, right?

    But it is surprisingly hard, and the science behind it is surprisingly deep, right? So, it’s, it’s worth the hard work to get simple. And that is something that a lot of people really don’t do. We get to the point where we say, Ah, I gotta think about this too much, and we just don’t do it. Uh, but if we do, That’s how we end up with those marketing messages that sparkle with those emails that, you know, witness the sale.

    All those other things we’re trying to do. Yeah, that’s awesome. And so I wanted to switch before again before Amir and Ali come on here and ask question. I want to I said I was going to ask a question with startups. And I started this conversation talking about, like, a lot of startups need to do their, their elevator pitch.

    And I know this may not be, you know, I definitely you have the expertise to help us out here, uh, may not have been thesis of the book, but, you know, what is it that startups can do to have an effective elevator pitch? Oh, so what does startups need to do to have an effective elevator pitch? Um, so I, I’ve hit upon the beneficial piece a little bit, and I think that that’s obviously the big, the big one.

    The other thing. That’s important. So there’s there’s five principles in the book, and I’ve alluded to a couple of them. I’ll just I’ll hit them real quick so I can I can reference what they are. So the first one is beneficial features versus benefits, right? Uh, the second one is focused. Are you trying to say one thing or multiple things at once?

    This is one idea or three ideas in a trench coat. The third is salient. Does your message stand out from the noise? Does it rise to your attention? Is there contrast between it and the background noise? The fourth is empathetic, which we just spoke about. Are you speaking the language the audience understands?

    And the fifth one is minimal, which is have you cut out everything that isn’t important and focus on only what is. And if you want to look at, you know, if someone’s doing a pitch as a startup, I think that the, the two that come to mind That we haven’t discussed or play focused and minimal focused. This will happen a lot when people are unsure about what the, the kind of value proposition is for their offer.

    They will say something like we are the best customer service and we have the best prices. And we have the most sustainable practices, and we have this, and we have this, and we have this. And you’re giving about a thousand different arguments as to why you’re the right choice for this, or why you’re interesting as an investment or a solution.

    And we think that, well, everything we add is, is a benefit, is great, right? You know, at least it’s marginally beneficial for us to add another reason, another reason, another reason. The problem is, That’s not how our brains end up working. So there’s this finite amount of attention, right? We only give full attention to something.

    And every time we’re carving that up into different little slices to talk about this, this, this, and this. We’re subtracting from what was already there, you know, we’re saying, well, it’s no longer just all about being the best deal. It’s about also having the best customer service. And so that ends up kind of muddying the waters a little bit on its own.

    But also there’s this, uh, bit of science called the dilution effect, which is when we look at arguments. You know, if they’re accolades or press mentions or, you know, reasons for someone buying something, we don’t add them up in our brains. We average them in our brain. So we give a really good argument and a really bad argument.

    It, the really bad argument doesn’t help a tiny bit on top of that good argument. It actually brings it down to somewhere in the middle.

    Yeah. And for me personally, I love that. I hadn’t heard that, uh, you know, study that. So that’s amazing. And thank you for sharing that. I also, it makes my mind go to, okay, this person, I’m sorry, it’s full of bullshit and they’re just trying to layer it on. Right. And I just like my defenses go up and as an analytical person, I’m like, okay, now I don’t believe you.

    And I want to look into it myself. You know what I mean? Oh yeah. Absolutely. Um, it’s, you know, it’s very, it’s hard work. It’s hard work to get simple. And, uh, you know, that’s, that’s one of the things that we try to address a lot, uh, in the second half of the book, which is those five principles where there’s both kind of the, the meat behind them.

    And then I try to get into some, like, very tactical tools that people can use to get there.

    All right, great. Well, Amir, you’ve been very patient. Um, do you have a question? Or an experience share that you’d like to share with us regards to making things simple. Amir, you’re on. And if Amir you’re not ready, I know I’ve got a couple new members here. Ali, we can jump over to you. Ali, go ahead. Yep.

    Yeah, I’m there. All right, go ahead, Ali. So, uh, by the way, I have a question. So, by the way, also there’s something that I really liked about that. Like we touched on earlier, so it was more about the design. And by the way, um, as a, what do you call currently? We’re working on our MVP for product. Um, what do you call?

    And 1 thing that always gives us a, you know, a hard time. Is that what we call the user experience and or you are you X. Because first of all, we’re offering so much, you know, um, surfaces in one place, uh, which a lot of investors backlash, you know, whenever, like whenever we pitch our idea and we introduce our idea, they always say that, you know, the idea is kind of, it’s really fantastic.

    It’s revolutionizing, you know, it’s going to be a game changer, but you know, the, what do you call, you have to balance between that, what do you call the user experience and what do you call the product experience? features because sometimes features can overwhelm. So by the way, so that is my language.

    Also, Michelle mentioned that, you know, she liked about the part of the design and all that. So we’ve been having really hard time with design. So considering that scenario, that for example, especially we’re in a fintech application and we’re promising to provide a lot and a lot, what do you call, um, of surfaces.

    So not too many that they’re overwhelming, but also a game changing, uh, what do you call, surfaces that what do you call could have a significant impact in the market in the coming futures in the coming future so as a what do you call Ben or another person maybe could contribute up how do you think We could, like, you know, improve our user experience and our user interface.

    So our user interface, we agreed that we were going to adopt, um, simplistic design that doesn’t have too over, you know, too much, um, or with spacing and all that doesn’t overwhelm the users. But what other things would you recommend us to use, uh, when it comes down to user experience and even UI in general?

    Yeah, so I’m glad you’re asking that because part of my background is in UI UX actually, and that’s, that’s how I came to this book and this topic was looking at messaging and language communication from a user experience side. So, you know, if I’m putting the design hat back on them, one thing I like to always hammer home is that pixels are free.

    Right? Slides are free. Pages are free. If you have something that, you know, has a lot of steps to it and you, you just, you gotta break up this really, you gotta find, find a way to get somebody to do a relatively intense piece of action, uh, if it’s like fill out a giant form to like get insurance or something like that.

    You might think, well, if I put this all on one page, that’s going to be simpler, right? Because this is one page, it’s not going to be that bad. Actually, if you break that up, that longer form into five or six or seven pages, and you give people the right bits of information about how far along they are and what they have next.

    If you do that, Despite it being more pixels and more pages and more clicks, it ends up actually being easier because it’s not I’m not faced with. Oh, my God. I have 18 form fields. I have to fill out on this page. You were saying, well, I just got to fill out one thing or two things, and I’m able to kind of move on from there.

    Uh, that’s that’s kind of, uh, one big piece of this, uh, and how that translates into messaging is I, you know, always like to say that brevity is correlated with something being fluent or simple, but it’s not the same thing. Uh, we’re trying to minimize friction, not the fewest amount of words or pages or slides, but the least amount of friction, least amount of kind of work I have to do to understand something.

    And, you know, what, if you’re in user experience design. You put friction between things you don’t want people to do, and you remove it from things you want people to do, right? So, ever try to cancel a gym membership, right? Like, it’s a lot of friction. You got to go in and, you know, mail them something, and send them a piece of your kidney or whatever else it is.

    But if you’re trying to buy something from Amazon or for wherever, it takes one click, right? They removed a bunch of the friction as part of that. So, that’s kind of the, the, uh, the currency you’re dealing with a lot of times when it comes to UX. Yeah, um, Ben, I think your book really, um, touches a lot upon, uh, social media as well.

    Like this idea, like Twitter has certain number of characters and like, I know like 10 years ago, you know, we all used to write paragraphs and now we’re getting into like, you know, although if you go back further, you know, with the cell phone, it would be really, um, uh, you know, tough to, to type it out, but, but, but, but primarily social media, yeah.

    Has sort of changed from maybe when it first started to becoming more punchy and can you give some advice around that as well? Yeah, so I mentioned Twitter a little bit in the book, um, as an example of constraints, right? So, uh, when I talk about salience, salience is doing something that’s noticeable, like, and that’s often something that’s different, that there’s contrast of the background.

    And I argue that. Constraints are often the way for us to get there by by playing by rules that are a little bit different than everybody else plays by. We end up with results that are a little bit different than what everybody else gets. And Twitter was this wonderful example of how we can use constraints to.

    Push us to write differently, so push us to, um, communicate in a different language. And if you look, especially at the early days of Twitter, when it was 140 characters, uh, this is the, you know, there was a ton of kind of user. Created language as part of that, you had the app symbol was a user created, uh, tool.

    The hashtag was a user created tool. The, um, you know, all sorts of things like follow Friday or those type of like FF, uh, those type of things all came up organically. The language that you’re talking about, kind of this punchier language, uh, started to develop during that the, uh, style of bios that all of us right now, which are just like three words describing who we are.

    All of that came from Twitter and that piece of it and those constraints forced us to kind of shed all the things that weren’t necessary to be there to begin with and forced us then to ultimately end to this distilled, you know, kind of meat of what it is that we’re trying to communicate.

    That’s a brilliant analogy. I love that you shared that. I, I feel the same and Colin and I’ve been talking about this slightly, like, Our style of like emails and whatnot has evolved, right? It used to be considered very terse or rude if you didn’t like elaborate and write paragraphs were literally like, you know, one sentence, paragraphs.

    Because people just want to kind of like get to the point. We said our team get to the point. So, you know, I, it’s, it’s changed, right? We’re not being assholes, right? It’s like, we’re just trying to help people, you know, and convey and be respectful of their time. At least that’s the way I like to think of it.

    Oh, a hundred percent. I mean, the, um, the other thing to consider, you talk about this at one sentence paragraphs, uh, is how do we look at. Stuff on a screen and how do we consume the information the data that’s on there? Well, it’s it’s completely different than what it is when we’re looking at a book or a piece of paper We think you know, you’ve asked somebody well, I look at the top left corner I move down to the bottom right and I kind of read all the words there But on the screen, which is where an email is being read or where your landing page is being read That’s not necessarily the case.

    We if you look at eye tracking studies We jump around. We’ve go from headline to this other headline. We go to the bold, the bullets, the italics. Uh, maybe we kind of, uh, hunt and peck for things like phone numbers or prices, but we don’t really ever kind of read from top left to bottom right. And so when you’re able to meet somebody where they are in terms of how they behave in terms of looking at a screen, you’re going to be more effective in terms of that email or that landing page or whatever else.

    Thanks. Yeah. All right. So let’s take it into the AI world for a minute. And I know we’re going to, we’re going to push it a little bit here. Um, but, uh, one of the prompts that we use often in AI prompt engineering is to say, You know, in chat, GPT is to say, okay, make each sentence a paragraph. So what we found is when we do our social media, that when we do very short, very, very short, like one sentence per paragraph, it has a better efficacy, uh, in the book, start scale, exit, repeat.

    We have 57 chapters. They’re very short. I say we wrote it for the ADHD entrepreneur. Right. So like, so can you talk a little bit. About AI. I don’t know if you’ve played with AI and how you’ve applied your philosophies to AI. But I feel like they’re really connected. Oh, yeah. Right. And so I mentioned a little bit my friend that ran through that basically trained the AI on on parts of the book, the you.

    Uh, one of the other small tools for, uh, you know, getting the most out of chat TPT that I have used. Uh, and I’ve, I can’t remember where I got this from, but it’s the phrase no yapping. Uh, so if you ask it for something, it gives you a lot of. You know, again, the fluff and the extra explanations, but if you just say, you know, Hey, give me X, Y, and Z, no yapping, it cuts to the chase a lot quicker and you end up getting a lot better results, uh, as part of them.

    Um, I I’ll tell you, you know, slight aside from the, I just use chat GPT for, which is pretty fun. So I mentioned before my backgrounds in design, I don’t have much of a programming background, but, uh, there’s a tool in my book. That I reference called, you know, saying, use the thousand most common words as your kind of measuring stick.

    And if you look at how English is broken down, the thousand most commonly used words account for about 75 percent of the language as it’s used, right? So, uh, You don’t have to use just those thousand words, but you can get very, very far in, in that kind of common space before you start to add on that jargon, that specialized language, all that other stuff.

    And there’s a tool that you can use, which is basically Stress test your language against those thousand most commonly used words. Uh, there’s a book by Randall Monroe, who’s a webcomic, uh, called Thing Explainer, where he goes and explains stuff like nuclear bombs and Saturn V rockets and all these microwaves, uh, using the thousand most common words.

    And it ends up being kind of funny because The word thousand, for instance, is not one of them. So it’s the ten hundred most common words. So I use this as a model in the book, but I just would tell people, hey, go out and Google, you know, that tool. You can go find a few people have written things, written little tools to do that.

    And the other day I was like, you know, let me, this shouldn’t be too hard of a technical lift. Let me see if I can work with ChatGPT to do this. And lo and behold, took me like an hour and a half of just kind of going back and forth of it. And it gave me the code to be able to embed that Uh, on my own side, and I, you know, tweaked around here and there.

    I got the list from this other data source and, you know, that’s, you know, not maybe a direct communications piece, but it’s a way to kind of one step remove, get to a communications tool by, um, uh, by using something like touchy touchy PT. Yeah. You reminded me of my father who unfortunately passed away when I was 14 years old in 1984.

    And, uh, he, uh, was an advertising executive. And he would often say that he writes the copy for grade two level. Is that like, you know, like, often, you know, we get caught up as authors or experts and whatnot. But is there a particular, uh, is he, is he right on that one? Like, is there a particular grade level that we should be focusing on when it comes to messaging in marketing?

    Uh, yeah, so I’m trying to, um, I’m trying to see if I have. Okay. Um, I just found it in my book here. So the average, um, uh, the average reading, uh, comprehension level in the United States is about a 6th grade level. Uh, but when you look at, I believe it was Grammarly did this study when they looked at all their data, um, and, or Boomerang, I think it was, I’m actually sorry.

    They looked at all the email data and they figured out. What emails get the most response from people, uh, what, what is common between them and they found that stuff written, I think, at a second or third grade reading level was the, um, most likely to be opened and clicked on and everything else, uh, as part of that.

    So that’s a really great, you know, uh, tactic, uh, that your father used. And it also reminded me of something I was speaking to somebody. Uh, on a podcast not too long ago who used that thousand most common words tool and basically said, you know, he told chat TPT. Okay. Rewrite this blog post using the thousand most common words plus, you know, you can use 20 words outside of that list.

    And so that that gives it a little more freedom to be able to get things that are, um, you know, maybe domain specific as part of it, but it still puts you back in this very easy to understand space. Well, you know, I’ve never heard that before from prompt engineering, and I think it’s brilliant. I think that’s a brilliant little prompt.

    So I’m just gonna repeat it here, you know, use the commonly, you know, most common 1000 words, and you’re allowed to use 20 extra words outside that. And I think that’s a very cool prompt. And I know all of us are doing that now. Um, so anyway, Amir, if you’re on our available to talk would jump to you.

    Otherwise, the faithful, uh, having you and by the way, I’m adding you back there. Um, I had to go and delete a few, um, friends to, uh, to, uh, add the faithful and to add you Ben as well. And, uh, but faithful, we’d love to hear from you. We’d love to, do you have a question for our, our number one author? Ben Guttman.

    Simply put, the faithful. I can see you’re doing emojis, like you’re there. Are you able to, uh, to um, to share with us a question? Or simple. We’ll jump over to you simple. Faithful, you might be having some technical issues. I know this app’s wonky. So simple. Oh, here, Amir. Amir and then we got Simple. Now we got everybody.

    Now we got everybody on. Let’s just go to a faithful first. Amir, hold off. Amir, hold off. Let’s go to the faithful first. Simple, hold off. Let’s go to the faithful, the faithful, sir, first. Boy, that’s a tongue twister. The faithful. All right. Faithful, you’re up. Thank you so much. Uh, yeah, just, um, very fascinated by the conversation and, uh, my friend Shai.

    invited me to the room and suggested that I read the book and, um, learn a little bit more. So really I’m just enjoying listening and, um, thank you. Absolutely. We love it. Even when you don’t want to ask a question, you know, I’m certain Ben appreciates that, right, Ben? Like when Absolutely. Exactly. So feel free to join us on stage.

    Thanks so much. Yep. And Simple, you’re up next. Then we’ll do you, do you, Amir. Ah, I was just wondering if you can articulate the entire book in one sentence. What’s the takeaway? That’s beautiful. Many times there is a huge gap between the knowledge and the behavior, isn’t it? So if I want a takeaway, I simply put white, clear messages.

    Then. Uh, do you contribute to authenticity or what exactly, or do entrepreneurs lack that service orientation, uh, and concentrate on communication more than the authenticity part of it, which is the fundamental for everything. So I have not read anything. Thank you for inviting me. I’ve always been.

    Brilliant. But could you please summarize it in one sentence? And is there any gap in the knowledge and behavior aspect of it? Got it. Thanks so much. Uh, and so I’ll give you a little bit more than one sentence on this. Uh, I mean, if you want one sentence, it’s, you know, it’s science back, communicate science back lessons and communication.

    But if you want the main takeaway from this, Is going to be just as if you were sending a letter, you’re responsible for the postage as the sender of any form of communication. If you’re a marketer leader advocate, it’s your responsibility to pay the literal and metaphorical cost of that transmission, right?

    It is your responsibility to be heard. It is not the listeners responsibility. To hear you. The listener woke up, the receiver woke up today with a thousand things they cared about. They care about their, their deadlines and their family and leaky roof and their sports teams. They didn’t care about your new brand of shampoo.

    Right? Uh, every. Ad that you’ve ever seen has been against your will, right? Nobody woke up today saying, you know, what I got to do is on my list is, is I got to go click some Instagram ads and I got to go open some spam emails. Nobody wants to do that. And so coming at it from that perspective, that is your responsibility to meet the receivers where they are to fit into their lives and their motivations.

    Uh, if you’re able to do that, that will ultimately, uh, make you a more effective communicator. Yeah. And I think he was also getting to the point, simple, I’m sorry, simple of, um, This concept of being authentic. In your communication style. I know a lot of us on club has we’ve done like probably hundreds of hours of speaking.

    And at a certain point, you just give up on trying to have a corporate facade. Just be yourself. Can you talk a little bit about that, Ben? I’m so glad you mentioned that. So the, there’s a story I tell my book about a dinner I went to where, uh, one of the friends there, they worked at a company that was, you know, splash splattered across the news for a bunch of, you know, bad.

    Product recalls they had to do, and this is the punchline on late night shows, all sorts of stuff. And so we get there, we sit down, somebody asks them, Well, so how are things going at company XYZ? And they say, well, well, it’s unfortunate that this event’s occurred, however, da da da. And we couldn’t, she, they couldn’t finish the sentence.

    Because we all just burst out laughing because we’re like, it’s unfortunate. We’re like, what are you talking about? That’s not how a human speaks. Nobody says it’s unfortunate unless you’re, you know, unless you’re a lawyer, unless you’re a press release, that’s how you say it. And that’s an example of, um, writing language versus speaking language.

    And we will often kind of pull them apart as like two different things. They often, in our heads, they’re not always received as two different things necessarily. Uh, there was. A example in the U. K. So K. F. C. The Kentucky formerly Kentucky fried chicken. They ran out of chicken, right? That was not what they wanted to do, obviously.

    And instead of having kind of like a press release or some stiff guy in a suit, get up there and explain things. They ran an ad that was the upside down, you know, chicken bucket with F. C. K. And, you know, saying we ran out of chicken, not ideal, are, you know, are bad. And they turned into this humorous, positive spin by speaking like a human, by instead of giving this big, long explanation of supply chains saying, ah, we really screwed up.

    And that bought them so much goodwill as part of them. Our talking muscles are much better exercise than our writing muscles are. Most of the time we never Steph Godin would say, you know, nobody ever gets talkers block, right? And so if you’re ever having a hard time articulating the value proposition of your company or your marketing messaging Just try to talk it out.

    Ideally go talk to somebody, you know, who might be resonant with your audience. But if you can’t do that, take a little post it note, draw a stick figure on it, slap it on your monitor and talk to that thing, because that will give you more feedback in just how it hears coming back into your own ears than just writing it a thousand times over will.

    I mean, I don’t want to get political here whatsoever, but, um, just watching last night when, uh, Trump’s, uh, his, um, uh, donation site went down all of a sudden all over the news, his donation site went down and the messaging there is that, oh, it’s so much demand. And it’s sometimes it can. A bad thing can actually be a positive thing.

    Uh, in any case, the, um, the whole, I don’t know if you touch upon this in the book about press releases and how to get, you know, how to simply get the message out when you do have an announcement for your company. Uh, and I apologize if, if I’m going a little too far here outta your zone. Yeah, I, I didn’t get too far into kind of press releases as a specific.

    You know mode of communication in the book, but I think a lot of the same pieces still apply Which is you you in particular press releases what comes to mind is salience Everybody who’s getting a press release is getting a thousand press releases a day And so how do you make yours stand out? Well, it’s by doing something a little bit different right and that’s Probably the, you know, most important little tool to keep in your mind as you’re putting one together is, okay, well, how can I make this, this the one that stands out in the crowd of a thousand other ones that this reporter is trying to look at?

    Yeah, I’m going to add on here because I’ve done a lot of press releases. When I’m writing a press release, I really try to think about like, what do people want to know and understand? And I always, this is a little tip, I always do it as a quote because it becomes more authoritative and to what we’re saying, more authentic.

    So I think just to your point, Ben, Now that I’m thinking about it and talking through it a little bit further because it’s actually you’re doing what you said You’re just talking it and I’m telling you that’s what reporters want and they usually grab on to and quote. Yep That’s a great point. That’s a good point Ben before you answer Michelle, I mean I come to this room mostly because of Colin and Michelle and Mimi Uh, Kyle, I’m sorry, uh, you’re a new moderate for me.

    Uh, when Michelle said about, uh, kind of authenticity, Before the messaging, is there something what you have written, which has to work on the authenticity part of the entrepreneur before going to messaging? Because, uh, I mean, I might be wrong in, but still, that’s my opinion. But many messages, what we got, whether in email or social media, just doesn’t connect.

    With the person. So, uh, is the gap going to be fulfilled before you go into the dynamics of messaging? Yeah, I would say if you’re looking to kind of lay the groundwork before you even get into putting a message together, the most important thing you can do is to understand your positioning. And so this is a whole other domain of marketing.

    You can really dive into this and great books about it. Positioning basically boils down to three questions and you can, you can expand upon it, but three questions. Who is your stuff for? Who’s your audience? What problem do they have that you are solving that you’re the solution for and then finally, why are you the best solution for that problem?

    And I will tell you, I have sat in boardrooms with executives that have worked at companies for decades with people who have founded companies that cannot be solved. Get those answers out because we feel like we might know them, but we don’t always have them articulated in a way. And so if you can understand those and if you get that completely nailed, everything else you ever do in marketing will become so much easier.

    Yeah, it’s like the purpose too. I often ask founders like, and what’s your purpose? And they’re like, I don’t know. I don’t know, like, I mean, I feel like, you know, yeah, maybe everything’s not natural, nothing, you know, you know, you have to work on it a little bit. You have to think about what is the purpose of my business and how do I communicate that to my employees, to my buyers, to my customers, to my investors, you know, that’s important as well.

    And I think. You know, I think this has been a really good episode because we’ve been really learning how to crack that code a little bit. Yeah, I mean Unfortunately, we’ve come to the top of the hour But I just want to add on quickly my personal experience is forcing myself to articulate and communicate and write it down It actually helps you hone the message because you have to think about it.

    But ben You’ve been an amazing guest. We’re so honored that you came on to the show today and we’re so proud that you have been able to You know, establish this book as a number one book. Congratulations. And Colin, I think it’s time to wrap up the show. So Ben, did you want to, did you want to finish it off here or give us the closing arguments?

    Absolutely. Thank you so much, Michelle. Thank you so much, Colin. Uh, again, Colin’s book is fantastic. How they recommend it as well. Um, If you want to learn more, uh, feel free to, you know, go grab the copy. It’s called simply put why clear messages win and how to design them, uh, available wherever books are sold, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, uh, or go to my website, benGuttmann.

    com, uh, two T’s and two N’s in Guttmann. It’s not a very kind of radio friendly name, but if you go there, uh, you can grab the first couple of chapters for free. You can sign up for my email list. There’s that thousand word checker tool that I mentioned before. Um, and, you know, feel free to reach out to me.

    Connect on LinkedIn. Send me an email. Would love to hear from you. Anything I can do to help. Uh, of course, happy to do so. Yeah. And we’re looking for version two, simply put. How to communicate in an AI world or how to communicate with how to have your AI communicate for you into to the AI. I don’t know. I think there’s, there’s something to your messaging here that connects with AI.

    And, uh, I think if you haven’t already done, so pick up a copy of this book, it really is phenomenal and was awarded the gold medal at the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. Thank you very much, Ben. Appreciate you coming on the show. I just wanted to let everyone know that we have a follow up show today on Entree.

    It’s a different platform, you have to go, it’s E N T R E, Entree, and uh, we’re doing a free masterclass. You can actually go onto the app, access it for free, uh, if you’re listening to a podcast you do have to pay a pro membership. To get access to this, this, this, this uh, this podcast. Topic and many others as well.

    Uh, we don’t have any ownership or any access or we don’t make any money from this. Um, but we are presenting a 13 ways that you can use a I to accelerate your business and number 13. I had to swap it out. Actually, it was really frustrated because. I had to swap out one of them and number 13, we’re talking about custom GPTs and I’m going to walk you through how to create a custom GPT and how you can actually brand it and make money from it.

    This is brand new. This just happened three weeks ago because of this too, we’re doing a custom GPT show next Tuesday at two o’clock Eastern on startup club. Uh, again, if you’re in podcasts, it’ll be, it’ll be available in podcasts. Uh, but again, Come on, come on live. I mean, this was a phenomenal show. Uh, it was exciting to have Ben Guttmann on and really to be able to interact and ask questions of top authors.

    You can’t do that through podcasts. You got to come here live. So that’s my last pitch. Hopefully I made that simple. Michelle, any other last thoughts before we jump on? I know we have 30 seconds left. Yeah, I, I think, um, you know, we’re going to keep trying to turn it up here on Clubhouse. Ladies, just like keep following and hang in there.

    We’re trying to add value. And like Colin said, we do this just to help the community. So thank you all the members.

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