ReadWriteWeb recently talked to Lee LeFever — one half of Common Craft, the black belt explainers behind the Paperworks format — about why he and his wife Sachi gave up the custom Web brand work that brought them wide acclaim. LeFever explains that while the custom client work was rewarding, they decided to focus on creating explanations for general educational use, because:
1. Custom videos do not scale. We would have to hire people to grow the company and we don’t want to hire. We are a two person company.
2. Custom videos are usually promotional. We are more comfortable with education than promotion. Another realization is that promotion is fad-driven and education isn’t as much. We see a longer lifespan for our videos in education.
3. Our goal is independence – we want to work for our own goals on our own schedule and maintain a lifestyle that supports us.
I’ve mixed promotion with explaining before and also ran into these issues. While product promotion invariably benefits from clear explanation, the drive to promote something can handicap good explaining.