Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Does your writing pass the SO WHAT test?
Time is precious, so the last thing you want your audience to do is feel they wasted it on your copy. The good news: you can easily avoid this problem with a three-step litmus test.
One, take off your writer hat and put on your editing one. Two, pretend you are a member of your intended audience. And three, ask out loud as you read the piece, "SO WHAT?" (Or its cousin WHY SHOULD I CARE.)
Sounds curt, but it might be the difference between delivering value or spewing spam. Your job is to serve the audience, and often, points that seem so important within your organization are NOT important externally.
Moreover, when you serve your audience -- i.e. make your requests or mission applicable and meaningful to them -- you end up achieving the big goals that drove you to talk to them in the first place, such as increasing purchases, donations, petition signatures, site visits, etc.
With this one simple question, you can catch off-topic, off-kilter content early on. And that means SO WHAT just kept your audience from saying SO LONG.
Photo by Daikrieg