Remember the Reader – and the Cheese!
You've got a Friday deadline on marketing copy for a new product your company unveils next month. And you've been given a list of product features that you must include. Under pressure, you manage to list the features to please your bosses. But will your writing inform and inspire readers? Have you told potential customers anything they want to know? How effective are your words if you write them purely with internal dictates in mind?
When you take your writing to the next level, you recognize the importance of your reader. Let's face it – your writing has goals, but if your intended audience fails to read your words, becomes confused by them or simply doesn't care about the points you make, how effective has all your intellectual labor been?
Let's use a food analogy: How often do you order a burger and receive no follow-up questions? The waiter or waitress likely asks how you want the meat cooked, and lists typical condiments or toppings for your approval or rejection. If you ask to add cheese, but cut the onions, you expect those wishes to be followed in the kitchen. That's how you like your burger! So, if the sandwich shows up with all sorts of extras you don't like, do you feel disappointed? What about that cheese you asked to add? Are you less likely to tip the server or return to the restaurant if the burger is missing the cheese or overdone? You bet!
When you write for an audience, approach it as if you are the readers' server. You might not have time to conduct market research, but you should have some research at hand to rely on. Learn what you can about the product's target market and then consider these tips:
The "So What" Factor: Do your readers care about the same points that are on your product feature list? If uncertain, you can – at the least – picture customers and consider the features they care most about, how much they understand (especially in technology or business) and what they should do with your message.
You know what's at stake for you and your organization, but consider what's in it for your readers. Do they need or desire the information you're passing on? Is convenience more important than cost? Ask these questions with the features and purpose of your communication in mind.
After considering your readers and combining their needs with the information you must communicate, go back and read what you've composed, once again from the reader point of view, including reading level, knowledge and typical demographics or personalities (for example, are they millennials? Outdoor adventurers?).
Remembering the reader helps you make a better connection and better achieve the desired purpose of your writing. Giving readers the cheese they want – and no onions – makes for more loyal, satisfied customers and stakeholders.
Find out how you can learn more about taking your writing to the next level at Business Writing That Counts! I invite you to call me to discuss how I can help you take your writing to the next level, 425-485-3221.