Seth Godin has some good insights into one of the things that’s wrong with business writing today.
There are two kinds of writing, Seth explains. If you’re writing for strangers, keep it short. To the point. Don’t answer unasked questions. (I’d put it this way: Don’t be a bore.)
However, if you’re writing for colleagues (who presumably need to know what you’re telling), go into detail. Be clear, be specific. I would also suggest using lots of examples and anecdotes to help make your points. (But hey, Seth is the master of story.)
I’d suggest the same approach is valid when you’re writing sales letters, brochures, web site copy, etc. Write one version for “strangers,” cold calls, people who might be a little curious but are not “interested.” In it, just cover the highlights. What’s in it for them. The big picture (with benefits). Not much detail.
That’s the “postcard” version.
But for those who express an interest or want to know more, pull out (or link to) a second letter, brochure or web page that goes into much greater detail. That “second stage” document is the place to go deep. Go on, spill it all. Add a nice photo or illustration, too — perhaps the widget in action or being used by some satisfied customer. Add testimonials, too. Maybe a well-designed chart with specs and stats, if appropriate.
Try to anticipate — and answer — all the questions of someone who is now very interested. Tell them why they should be interested and excited about your service or product. Anticipate their objects, and rebut them.
If I’m a potential customer, and I’m interested — and getting emotionally involved (as good sales writing must do) — I want my questions answered now.
Fact: Emotion triggers the decision to buy. But people also need to justify their decision with logic and information. So good business writing always provides both. Plenty of information and logical justification to satisfy your left brain. Plenty of emotional appeal to seduce the right brain.
Keep that in mind when crafting your next sales letter, brochure, web page.
I’ve written more on this topic. Check out my web site, www.MaineCreative.com. Questions? Comments? Post away!