It sounds like common sense, but we see plenty of business writers who need help remembering the reader. In our webinars, especially in Tips and Trends in Business Writing and our Business Writing that Counts! series, we help writers learn how to focus on readers and the reasons they are producing written communication.
Why do we keep coming back to the reader?
Well, there is the obvious customer-first, customer-focused reason for keeping your reader foremost in mind, whether you are writing an instruction manual for a product or a video script for sales. But it is so much more. You know what you want your readers to do – the action they should take after reading your writing – but do you know how to get them there?
As a basic example, when you talk about a new service your company will offer, your CEO and shareholders want to know how it will affect/improve the company's bottom line. That's their job. So, when you write to them, you need to include projections and statistics. But the last thing on a customer's mind is your company's bottom line! Customers want to know the benefit of your service, or how it will solve their problems or enhance their lives or work. That means approaching the same "topic" from an entirely different way – from the get-go.
Tips for Staying Reader Focused
Here are a few tips for keeping reader in mind and improving the effectiveness of your business writing:
Picture your reader/targeted customer in your mind. Is it someone 20 years younger than you? What does this reader need to know?
Although you can't predict what every reader needs or wants to know, you can guess a few of the questions they might ask.
Likewise, be sure from the start that you know what you want your reader to do with the information you're providing. Do you want them to be satisfied about your solution to a product defect or mistake made by an employee? Do you want them to make a purchase?
Be sure not to turn readers off before they get to the good part. Use words that trigger positive, rather than negative, emotions. Focusing on the reader also plays a role in writing clearly so people will understand. In other words, if you keep a vision of the reader in mind, you less likely to include words they don't understand, such as technical jargon. After all, they only can engage or act if they stick with your message.
Our Business Writing that Counts! series provides you with a "Reader Meter" to better gauge what your reader wants and how to focus your writing. Start training your mind and your employees who communicate to put the reader first. Our online writing courses, webinars and writing coaching can help. Give us a call at (425)-485-3221.