Tell Your Readers What to Do Next

Giving a specific action instruction increases the likelihood that your readers will act.

For example, Maureen, benefits manager in the human resources department of a paper manufacturer, wrote an article for her company's employee newsletter about mutual fund options newly available in the 401(k) retirement plan. "We were scared that the floodgates would open and we'd be overwhelmed with calls," she explained. "So I ended the article by saying: 'For further information about the new options, to review your account, or to E-mail questions to a benefits manager, please click on the 401(k) icon on our intranet's home page.'"

Tim, a lawyer in an energy distributorship, wanted his staff to review legal findings before their upcoming meeting. "I sent an E-mail telling them that I wanted them to read several cases before we met. I gave them two that I expected them to read, and ended with 'Consult Marianna for additional case suggestions.' I was interested in tracking who consulted Marianna and who didn't."

"In a proposal we sent out," Malcolm, vice president of a construction company, explains, "for our engineering design services, we ended each section with source information. For instance, in the financial section, the last sentence was 'All data provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Please consult their website for details.' Very matter-of-fact, which was exactly the tone we wanted."

Ginny, owner of a restaurant supply company, sent out letters to all her customers announcing a price increase. "I explained it in the body of the letter, and ended with 'Attached is an updated price listing for your binder. Please replace the current page with this one.' Short and sweet."

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