“Many who have spent a lifetime in it can tell us less of love than the child that lost a dog yesterday.” Thornton Wilder, writer (1897-1975)
Feeling is critical to effective writing. Before you roll your eyes assuming this is going to be a ‘woman’s’ article, know any effective salesman recognizes the need to identify with his prospects.
All written messages are selling something – whether it’s a product or service promotional piece, a charity cause, a media article designed to have people react, a personal letter, a speech, a book or any document designed to get someone to do something (even if it’s simply to finish reading what you wrote). Understand this and you’ll begin to master the art of creating compelling copy.
It’s not about you. Features and benefits are fun to expound, but they won’t grab your reader. Showing you care enough about the one (it’s always the individual you must reach first) you are addressing to demonstrate you understand his perspective is the key to effective writing. This requires taking the time to research (a term that can be defined in so many ways) the pressing issues affecting your audience.
All the secondary research in the world won’t give the valuable clues you get from primary research (having a conversation). Of course, crafting a message that really reaches your audience requires a bit of creativity in drawing out the issues and solutions, but listening is an easy first step.
So often, writers strive to tell, or show, or instruct, or influence without recognizing what it is the reader seeks. It’s not that hard to figure out if you’ve spent the time getting to know the person or people you are talking (writing) to.
That’s the real reason focusing on niches works so well. It’s not so much about targeting a message as it is identifying with your audience in such a way each reader feels like you’re talking to them, personally.
It’s a bit of an art, but not so much if you get smart about asking the right questions and taking the time to really identify with the perspectives you’re hearing. It’s a different kind of listening than what most people do. Instead of letting your head focus on your rebuttal or on how the comments relate to you, try to let go and get immersed in the mindset of another.
Do this as you write armed with the information you’ve gathered, and you’ll be amazed at how much more convincing you are to your reader. Of course, sincerity is important too, but to coin a Jim Rohn phrase “you can be sincerely wrong.” What you think matters less than your reader’s needs, if your aim is to move them to embrace what you’re trying to say.
On a personal note, I chose the above quote today due to its relevance to this post (perspective is everything – especially when it comes to effective writing), but also because I made the tough decision to euthanize my dear, sweet Gatsby today. He’s been a canine friend, remarkable assistant horse trainer, super protector and awesome farm hand who (sic – live with it – he’s been more humanistic than some people I’ve known) has served as a fixture by my side for fifteen years. I feel like a child with the level of grief I’m experiencing over this loss. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.