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Wednesday, 18th April 2012 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Michelle Manafy


Ever ask someone to clarify something they've just said and, instead of rephrasing, they repeat the same thing, only louder? It's like bellowing blather at the blind and blaming them for not getting the picture.


Ever ask someone to clarify something they've just said and, instead of rephrasing, they repeat the same thing, only louder? It's like bellowing blather at the blind and blaming them for not getting the picture.

One place I see this is in vendor announcements, which often read like some sort of secret language, replete with what my friend David Meerman Scott calls "gobbledygook". Gobbledygook refers to a tendency by some vendors to include a multitude of trendy techno-speak jargony terms in their promotional materials, interspersed with intermittent and equally incomprehensible catch phrases. I'm pretty sure we all figured out in our teens that trying to sound cool by working hep lingo into conversation was never actually cool.

As David wisely points out, buyers are not terribly impressed with some vague promise of the latest trend or tool; it is all about their needs. They don't care about what you are selling. They are concerned with solving their own problems. The challenge for sellers is that it is easy to become secluded in isolated product development chambers and lose touch with the immediate needs of end users. Even those that use focus groups or advisory boards may only have a generalised view of user needs.

We rely heavily on reader input here at FreePint. From comments on articles to the FreePint Suggestion Box, messages on Twitter and emails to any of our editorial team or to support – we listen. And we work hard to create the content and craft our services to meet not just the requirements of "the average reader", but also to organise and offer it in ways that meet our readers' individual needs.

Like many in the so-called "information industry", we've seen the range of those individual readers and their needs continue to expand. While many of our readers are information managers, even that relatively defined group serves a wide range of end users. And increasingly we serve those end users directly as well – such as any department manager seeking to foster collaboration, or human resources professionals prospecting social media for the best candidates.

As I mentioned in a previous column, we're now categorising the content across our sites  and including "useful if you work in" tags on the articles in our magazines. We realise, however, that these general tags don't always meet your immediate information requirements. To this end, we encourage you to visit "How can FreePint Help?" and allow us to respond, providing personalised guidance to the FreePint resources that will speak to your specific information needs.

I have to admit that we may occasionally lapse into our own lingo. Even the company's name has an insider joke quality to it that makes it charming to those in the know and somewhat frustrating to, say, the tradeshow attendee who treks long and far across an exhibit space in pursuit of a free pint of ale ...

Ultimately, though, we want you to call us on it. If what we say is not making sense for the way you need to work with information, we want to know. Let us know what you think and what you need; we're listening. 


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Michelle Manafy is the senior editor of Min, which publishes the Media Industry Newsletter — the go-to resources for advertising data, news, deals, trends and personnel moves shaping the consumer magazine publishing industry — and hosts the industry's premier events and awards programs. Previously, Michelle held the position of Editor-in-chief at Free Pint Limited, a global publisher of sites, research and resources that support the value of information in the enterprise. Prior to joining FreePint, Michelle served as the Editorial Director of the Enterprise Group for Information Today, Inc. where she was editor of EContent Magazine and chair of the Buying & Selling eContent Conference and Enterprise Search Summits. She is the co-editor of and a contributor to the book Dancing With Digital Natives: Staying in Step With the Generation That's Transforming the Way Business is Done (May 2011, CyberAge Books). An award-winning columnist, Michelle's focus is on emerging trends in digital content and how they shape successful business practices. She speaks at a variety of industry events and serves as a judge for content and technology competitions. She has worked in book and magazine publishing for more than 20 years in areas ranging from pop culture to academic nonfiction and holds a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University.

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