This post from Seth Godin — Where do we begin? — got me thinking about copywriting.

I’m using "copywriting" expansively here — a direct mail letter, email appeal, web copy, press release, note to major donor, cover letter for your resume.

What do you assume about your reader? What does he or she know about you, about your organization, about the topic you’re raising? What do you know about the context in which he or she will be receiving and reading your message?

Do you think about these questions explicitly?

If you do, you’re improving your odds of communicating successfully.

And if your answers to those questions are well-informed, you can compound those odds again.

Successful copywriters make this point over and over. But it simply boils down to putting yourself in your intended reader’s shoes. In those shoes, what do you need to hear? In what style or detail do you want to hear it? How would you like to feel upon reading this message?

Let your reader talk to you. Because the best listeners are the best writers.

Tom

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