Providing actionable information

We are drowning in information. It comes to us from all possible sides. However, only a little fraction of it is useful and even smaller – truly actionable.

One of these days I was driving to Antwerp and saw a traffic information board, providing:

  • Antwerp-West: 17 minutes

Well, thank you very much, but what the hell am I supposed to make out of it?!

To begin with, where is Antwerp-West actually? There is no exit with such a title. To the best of my knowledge there is no region in Antwerp with such a title! Well, ok, let’s assume it is just an approximate geographic indication. But what does “17 minutes” mean? Is it OK, or is it a lot? Does it mean there is a huge traffic jam and I should take the first available exit and somehow drive around? Or I can peacefully continue my journey?

Those things happen all the time. You ask one thing and get a bunch of information about something else instead. Or, you have to exchange numerous e-mails to get all the data you might need to do a certain thing. It is truly annoying because it literally steals a lot of your time. Just recently we were arranging to buy something second-hand and had to explicitly ask for the address where to pick it up for two times. If we arranged to come and pick it up, isn’t it obvious we needed the address?…

I can extend this to business as well. Frequently there is not enough easy accessible clear information about how a person can buy something. Even if he is interested. Too many additional steps, vague instructions or information which could only be acted upon, after several clarification questions. If it is difficult, you will lose a potential client.

If you want to sell, make it easy to buy

– that’s one of the things we were taught during the marketing course. But of course it’s not only about selling. I would say:

if you want someone to do something, make it clear what, how and when it needs to be done.

Providing truly actionable information always makes you stand out and results in much more efficiency.


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