Copy tips 001: Don’t tell people to do things before you tell them why

Too often, in online copy, we tell people to do something – before telling them why they should do it.

 Copy tips 001: Don’t tell people to do things before you tell them why

So you end up with things like:

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or:

Hold down the power key to switch the phone on

Both of these examples start with the bit that you, as a writer, care about. Maybe you spent all day creating the newsletter, and you measure success by sign-ups. Or maybe you’re writing a phone manual, and in your mind you’re compiling a handy guide to the device’s functionality, one feature at a time.

But good writing is precisely about making the effort to aim the message at your readers and what they care about. Readers want to know about benefits and outcomes – they want answers to questions like ‘What’s in it for me?’ and ‘How do I switch my phone on?’

So, next time, flip the message and start with the bit your reader is likely to care about:

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and:

To switch your phone on, hold down the power key for a few seconds