This is a reprint of one of Paul Myers’ newsletter issues.
I have his (exceptional) permission to do so. 🙂
To anyone who’s ever used that as a justification for short- changing people on information that can help them live better, I would like to offer these thoughts:
People watch 2-hour movies and actually follow the most intricate plots. They read magazines and newspapers and even, if you can believe it, *whole books*.
If they aren’t staying focused for the 4 or 5 minutes it takes to read a “longer” article, maybe the problem isn’t with the reader. Maybe the content isn’t relevant to them.
Or maybe you’re just … BORRRRINNNNG!
Hmmm. Could it be that simple?
Years ago, when I was still publishing articles by other people, an author emailed asking what my guidelines were for length of submissions. My response was, “As long as you need to make your points, and not one paragraph longer.”
That is the theoretically correct answer. In a perfect world, we’d all know how to do that. We’d say what we came to say and we’d shut up, as it were.
The problem is, we’re generally talking to groups with very diverse ranges of experience and understanding. We have to try to balance the flow, where we might be able to pinpoint things better in a real-world environment.
For example, I was once approached at a conference by an experienced copywriter who had a long and confused question about something she’d just heard regarding SEO and how it could be applied to sales letters.
My answer was: “Bullets.” She processed that, thanked me effusively, and left much less confused than she arrived. The guy sitting next to me looked surprised (and amused) and said, “Did YOU just give someone a one-word answer?” My reply was…
The copywriters and SEO folks in the crowd “get” what that answer was all about. It might take more explaining for the folks with less experience in those areas. And that’s the point.
As far as possible, Know Thy Audience.
That’s the First Commandment for creating good content. The second is just as simple:
Have something to say, and say it in an interesting way.
I’m amazed at how often I get emails from alleged publishers that meander all over the place, saying nothing you can quite put your finger on, until they slide a pitch in.
People, there’s nothing wrong with recommending a product. Tell your readers specifically who will benefit from it, and how, and tell them where to go to get it. It’s that easy.
Stories are good, too, if you’re good at them. Unless you’re much smarter than the average bear, don’t start with a story about potty-training your child and try to segue into a pitch for a new piece of affiliate software. It won’t work.
Besides, you probably don’t want to attach that image to a product you’re promoting.
Yes. I have seen people do just this sort of thing.
It’s an eerie feeling.
Useful. Relevant. Interesting….
Read more in Are you really that boring? Part 3.
Oh, and if you’re really smart, you sign up for TalkBiz News
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