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Know Your Audience and Your Intention
I was recently asked by one of my Faceplate friends to review a new article he had just posted.
I think that he expected me to write back that he was a genius for tying thoughts about his philosophy to the product he was trying to sell. My hope is that he wasn’t too disappointed that what he received was a marked up copy showing where improvements could be made that would make his points much clearer to the reader.
In order to do produce an article that excites the audience and gives them a reason to save the article and want to read more, the writer needs to decide who he or she is writing to and what the intended message is. Lacking that knowledge tends to lead to an article that is weak in structure, has little or no continuity, and may end up doing more damage to a multiple of endeavors (introducing yourself, sharing your philosophy, building a relationship, recommending a course of action, selling a product, etc.), instead of helping any one goal.
In this case, the article he presented was a discussion of his philosophy. The first half of the article did a wonderful job of building rapport. Then suddenly, it took a 90 degree turn and tried to sell a product. For those who have experienced vinyl records, it was like putting on an album without noticing there was a major scratch in it. There I was listening and humming along to a favorite song, when suddenly; SCREECH as the needle slid across the album right into the middle of a different song. Or picture sitting in a movie theater watching a horror movie. The spooky music is playing; the monster’s shadow is on the screen and you are ready to jump out of your seat. Unfortunately, the projectionist loads the wrong reel and you find yourself watching a cartoon of a dog chasing a cat. The jolt of the 90 degree turn from one purpose to another feels awkward at best and more often downright uncomfortable.
Before writing the first word decide who you are trying to reach and what you would like them to take away from the article. Decide on the message for piece. If there are many floating around in your head at once, consider yourself lucky. You have the start of many more articles.
Whether your purpose is to inform, convince, sell or document, always start with the focus on your intended audience.
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