The curse of knowledge, as made famous by Dan & Chip Heath’s book, Made to Stick, says that once you learn something, it’s hard to remember what it was like NOT to know it. Without realizing it, you tend to assume that “everyone knows that.”


This is important for PPC copywriting because in-house copywriters — i.e., copywriters working for the company they are writing ads for — get a hefty dose of The Curse of Knowledge. They know stuff about the company through simple immersion that most people don’t know. Yet because they’ve known it for so long and because all their co-workers know the same stuff, it becomes really easy to accidentally project that knowledge onto the searcher.


This contest is a perfect example of The Curse of Knowledge at work:




When you work for a company that specializes in creating customized and personalized products, you start to assume that EVERYONE knows that — to the point where it’s not even emphasizing in the copy. Heck the 20% off sale is news. Free shipping is an important draw. The customized thing, well, that’s just par for the course.


But to the searcher, the fact that you’re advertising a customized phone case ISN’T obvious or secondary — it’s the lead (or lede) for the story and putting that fact in the body copy is essentially “burying the lede”! It’s the 20% off bit that’s secondary.


And that’s why the winning ad grabbed 192% higher Click-Through Rates than the losing ad.


So how can you avoid The Curse of Knowledge? Easy — just hire some outside copywriters once in a while. Get an outside perspective from people who don’t know what you know about your own company. That’s how the company in the example contest did it. And that’s a tip from the Boosters you can take to the bank.