How to Avoid Eating Your Own Dog Food

Updated: June 07, 2011

Here are some ways you can avoid eating your own dog food:

1. Fully understand your reader

If you're a marketing writer working inside an enterprise, query your customer-facing employees such as salespeople, customer support and customer service to gain an idea of the target readers' knowledge of certain terminology.

2. Use scale 1-10 questions

If you're a freelance writer producing a white paper for a customer, ask your white paper Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) how familiar the target readers are with terms on a "scale of 1 to 10" with 1 being clueless and 10 being intimately familiar. If their response is low, use analogies. If it is high, then you do not need the analogies.

3. Use industry references

Whether the reader knows a term or not, it's always safe to use external references to support your position. If the reader doesn't know the meaning of a term, an external article will further educate them. If they already know it, the article will reinforce their existing knowledge.

4. Apply concept graphics

Concept graphics are illustrations that translate text concepts into pictures. Using these graphics helps readers understand complex terms. It also forces white paper marketers to include detailed labels, workflows, components, and attributes expressed in clear terms, moving them away from the "dog food" problem.

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