Starting off as a Technical Writer with Digital Equipment Corporation many years ago, I was one of the many who wrote for the VMS documentation set (the Great Orange wall). If there was one thing that technical writing taught me, it was to make your life easier by following a standard approach.
When you used a consistent approach, you organized your message, got straight to the point, and eliminated extra “nice-to-knows” by keeping only to the main points. It made your writing more compact and it gave your readers a sense of comfort as they knew what to expect and in what order.
For example, if we wanted a reader to perform a certain task, say do a nightly back-up, we would work backward from the final action. Once we had the end result we could figure out what preceded that, and then what preceded that, until we arrived at the first initiating action which included the reason for doing the steps in the first place. In this manner, we could convincingly “draw” our reader, step-by-step to the final action we wanted them to take.
A similar approach can be used when designing marketing writing. The next time you design some persuasive marketing material, try this backward approach, ask yourself the following questions:
- What action do I want my reader to make? (the ending point)
- What are the benefits of them taking that action? (the preceding steps and why they will help)
- What is the history or experience that supports them taking that action? (the preparation or reason)
Once you have these answers, you can start your piece by beginning with the history or experience of a proposed action, what the benefits of taking that action would be and finally what exactly you want your reader to do next.
By using this approach, much like in technical writing, you will be able to convincingly draw your reader, using a standardized and well planned approach to a solid conclusion that is likely to the action you want.