Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Focus your content on your reader, not on yourself

To get results from your written communications (and that includes email), you must write reader-focused documents, not writer-focused documents. Remember that your readers aren’t interested in you; they’re interested in themselves and what’s “in it for them.” I preach this every time I present one of my business/technical writing or email workshops. That point was driven home very clearly during a visit to a client.

Case in Point
While at my client’s office I noticed a letter hanging on her bulletin board. I saw 28 circles surrounding words such as I, me, and our, and three squares around words such as you and your. When I asked my client about the circles and squares, she explained that it was the cover letter that accompanied a very large proposal. She was so offended that the writer wrote all about himself that she didn’t even consider his proposal for the project. She threw it in the trash and sent him a letter saying: “28 to 3. You lose!”

Lesson Learned
The sender lost the opportunity for a very large project by writing a writer-focused letter that offended the reader. Make sure you know what’s in it for your reader(s) before you send any document.

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