The Second Most Important Thing to Know about Writing

Writing 101, Freshman Comp, Secrets to Writing the Great American Novel – they’ll all tell you the most important thing to consider when writing is your audience.  The phrase, “know your audience” has been drummed into our minds until it left a permanent mark. And, it’s true. The most important aspect of writing is to know who you’re writing for, right? But, what would you consider to be rule #2?  I’ll tell you what I think…

Important Thing #2: Know your Product

What are you offering your audience? If you’re a copywriter, it is probably a product or a service. If you’re a journalist, it’s information. If you’re a novelist, it’s an idea or a feeling.

Get to know your product. Spend time with it – whatever it may be. Do you want your audience to buy the latest breakfast cereal, do you want them to be inspired to support a cause? Or, do you want to move them – perhaps change the way they think or feel about something important to you?

I learned a long time ago, in an earlier retail career, that it’s much easier to sell something if you know the product. And, it’s much, MUCH easier if you like the product. If you believe what you’re telling the prospective customer (reader), then it’s more likely that they will too.

I make it a personal rule to get to know a new project as much as possible. If I’m writing ad copy for a book launch, I read the book. I Google the author and attempt to hunt them down on Pinterest and Facebook. It’s not creepy. It’s called professional research. It lends an authority to your voice as a writer that, I believe, you can’t get any other way. And, your audience can spot a fake. If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, why should they?

I know we all have deadlines, and some are more crazy than others. But, if you do the best you can with what you can, even just a little time taken to educate yourself will be well worth the effort. Your writing will be of a higher quality, your message will be clearer, and your audience will believe you.