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Who, What and So What?

When you are writing, what is your first thought?

If it is what you are going to write, I expect that would put you in with the majority.

“Who for” is perhaps a more important part of the equation. Connecting to your audience, bringing them something value, means addressing who they are.

A much overlooked aspect though is “So What?”. What should the reader take away? Where is the benefit? Why should we listen to you?

Look over your recent posts. Is the “So What” clear or are you assuming the reader will be able to work it out?

So often we think the “So What” is plain, but that is making a big assumption. Without benefiting from what you write the reader is unlikely to stick around. If they can’t relate what you write to what they need they are unlikely to perceive any benefit.

Picture a snotty, loud-mouthed brat shouting it after every sentence. “So What So What So What”. That will make you remember that “Because I say so” does not cut it, for the brat or for your non-bratty audience.

Just the facts is not going to work, back up “features and facts” with something meaningful to what matters to your audience right now.

If you offer advice, tell them why they should take it. When offering a service or solution, spell out the benefits in a way that will resonate. If you are warning about a potential problem, tell them the consequences.

My advice is to not only address your readers concerns but also tell them exactly why they should care.

  • Why? Because if you do then they are more likely to take your advice.
  • So What? Because if they take your advice they are more likely to benefit and therefore value it.
  • So What? If they value your advice they are more likely to spend money with you or tell their friends.
  • So What? That is where long term growth and value comes from.

And we all want that, right?

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Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this article and it hits a valuable point an effective area to focus on.

    Many of us start out wanting to make a difference to share and assist other with empowering advice.

    We all have value to add and we are seeking value as well. As we share and as we seek (read) we do ourselves a great service to keep the main theme of this post in mind.

    Know what and how to give to others so that they can see what they are wanting. Isn’t that where the power is?

    Don’t we become stronger by giving to others?

    That giving is much more powerful when we are able to do it in the way outlined in this post, speaking to our readers and really helping them to find that value in what we are sharing.

    This is a great post and one I have printed and posted above my PC so that I can see it and make it a part of my natural thought process.

    Thanks!!!!!!!
    Rod

    This hit home and really does set a proper foundation for communication.

    I Love it when I find this empowering (what I needed to hear) information.

  2. I really enjoyed this article and it hits a valuable point an effective area to focus on.

    Many of us start out wanting to make a difference to share and assist other with empowering advice.

    We all have value to add and we are seeking value as well. As we share and as we seek (read) we do ourselves a great service to keep the main theme of this post in mind.

    Know what and how to give to others so that they can see what they are wanting. Isn’t that where the power is?

    Don’t we become stronger by giving to others?

    That giving is much more powerful when we are able to do it in the way outlined in this post, speaking to our readers and really helping them to find that value in what we are sharing.

    This is a great post and one I have printed and posted above my PC so that I can see it and make it a part of my natural thought process.

    Thanks!!!!!!!
    Rod

    This hit home and really does set a proper foundation for communication.

    I Love it when I find this empowering (what I needed to hear) information.

  3. Absolutely true I think about the so what.

    The who is trickier. Until you have lots of traffic it is hard to know who is reading. And even with lots of subscribers most traffic usually comes from search engines. So the who always presents a problem for me.

    So I mostly worry about the what and so what.

  4. Absolutely true I think about the so what.

    The who is trickier. Until you have lots of traffic it is hard to know who is reading. And even with lots of subscribers most traffic usually comes from search engines. So the who always presents a problem for me.

    So I mostly worry about the what and so what.

  5. Excellent advise Chris.
    And sometimes it is just so easy to forget to do. I can get so caught up in concentrating what I want to get across, and totally forget about what’s in it for the reader.
    The worse part is when I publish the post straight away.
    Letting the post sit for a while and going back to it often helps me to read it from the readers perspective.
    I’m just not good at getting it right the first time – I just keep pushing that snotty, bad mouthed brat away when I’m busy writing.

  6. Excellent advise Chris.
    And sometimes it is just so easy to forget to do. I can get so caught up in concentrating what I want to get across, and totally forget about what’s in it for the reader.
    The worse part is when I publish the post straight away.
    Letting the post sit for a while and going back to it often helps me to read it from the readers perspective.
    I’m just not good at getting it right the first time – I just keep pushing that snotty, bad mouthed brat away when I’m busy writing.

  7. Timely advice. I have taken up the habit of making things clear in the headlines of my blog posts. They usually have a ‘What’ or a ‘How’ in them.

    It works! I have never seen more effective headlines in my life. :0

  8. Timely advice. I have taken up the habit of making things clear in the headlines of my blog posts. They usually have a ‘What’ or a ‘How’ in them.

    It works! I have never seen more effective headlines in my life. :0

  9. Dear Chris,

    A really good and insightful article.

    As I work with Christian writers and those who write for Christians, one of the universal problems I hear is “this is what I want to tell” rather than “this is what they will hear”.

    Making our writing relevant requires a knowledge of who we want to reach, what they want, and what do they need. Relevant writing is profond when a question is answered before it is asked in the mind of the reader.

    Thanks again for your insights

    In Him,
    JMb

  10. Dear Chris,

    A really good and insightful article.

    As I work with Christian writers and those who write for Christians, one of the universal problems I hear is “this is what I want to tell” rather than “this is what they will hear”.

    Making our writing relevant requires a knowledge of who we want to reach, what they want, and what do they need. Relevant writing is profond when a question is answered before it is asked in the mind of the reader.

    Thanks again for your insights

    In Him,
    JMb

  11. The So What is the part that tells why I am writing. I want each of my readers to know that they don’t have to go where I have been but if they do they have choices that can keep them from getting stuck there. For many years, I didn’t know about choices. Choices make it so that we can become who we want to be instead of who we may have been molded into by others.

    Keep up the great work of reminding us that our writing is about the reader. Why should they bother to read what we have written?

  12. The So What is the part that tells why I am writing. I want each of my readers to know that they don’t have to go where I have been but if they do they have choices that can keep them from getting stuck there. For many years, I didn’t know about choices. Choices make it so that we can become who we want to be instead of who we may have been molded into by others.

    Keep up the great work of reminding us that our writing is about the reader. Why should they bother to read what we have written?

  13. Great advice – it’s amazing how something that looks so elementary and basic can be of such use. I’ve just looked at my own Recent Posts – and I couldn’t help asking myself…so what?

    …looks like I’ve got some tweaking to do.

  14. Great advice – it’s amazing how something that looks so elementary and basic can be of such use. I’ve just looked at my own Recent Posts – and I couldn’t help asking myself…so what?

    …looks like I’ve got some tweaking to do.

  15. Some basic and simple tips, which quite frankly get overlooked by too many of us. I better get on with reappraising how I go about writing. Great adive for the novice blogger like myself!

  16. Some basic and simple tips, which quite frankly get overlooked by too many of us. I better get on with reappraising how I go about writing. Great adive for the novice blogger like myself!

  17. Great guidelines. Writing meaningful posts that will hopefully have real value for your readers is important, and takes great effort. Making sure that you are addressing a topic from a slightly different perspective that your reader will find useful and reasonable is even more important. What will the readers find new and different? In my field (investing and marketing), there are plenty of resources. I always need to make sure that what I share in my site is a perspective that allows the reader to leverage those other resources, vs. just replcate them.

  18. Great guidelines. Writing meaningful posts that will hopefully have real value for your readers is important, and takes great effort. Making sure that you are addressing a topic from a slightly different perspective that your reader will find useful and reasonable is even more important. What will the readers find new and different? In my field (investing and marketing), there are plenty of resources. I always need to make sure that what I share in my site is a perspective that allows the reader to leverage those other resources, vs. just replcate them.

  19. Great advice Chris.

    I like to ask simple, strategic questions. And you gave us three simple and very useful questions to ask ourselves as we re-read our articles. (Hopefully, before clicking PUBLISH.)

    In order to attract an audience (who) to my blog, I must provide interesting content (what.) In order to retain that audience, I must provide them with good value (so what.)

    It is a cycle. The more valuable the “so what”, the more “who” bookmark my site to reat the “what.”

    Thank you for your post. Thank you for giving me a very useful editing perspective!

  20. Great advice Chris.

    I like to ask simple, strategic questions. And you gave us three simple and very useful questions to ask ourselves as we re-read our articles. (Hopefully, before clicking PUBLISH.)

    In order to attract an audience (who) to my blog, I must provide interesting content (what.) In order to retain that audience, I must provide them with good value (so what.)

    It is a cycle. The more valuable the “so what”, the more “who” bookmark my site to reat the “what.”

    Thank you for your post. Thank you for giving me a very useful editing perspective!

  21. @cpanel – Helping other people has had the most profound effect on my career of everything I have done. The challenge has always been to help in a way that is not doing all the thinking for them, but helping other people toward their own solution.

    @Evan – You can start with an idea of the who while being flexible in responding to feedback.

    @Cindy – Letting thoughts stew, and coming back to posts really does help. We are often in a rush which leads us to make all sorts of assumptions or to cut our thoughts down not for brevity but for speed. That’s why I often start with the “point” then work back :)

    @Vijayendra – Great headlines often have the target audience too, eg. off the top of my head “12 Compelling Reasons Realtors Should Blog to Make More Sales”

    @Bishop – Good point, sometimes anticipating questions is a great way to provide value also

    @Patricia – Exactly, each experience is unique and personal but can be of value to others when we can see the lesson in it

    @Herbert – Sometimes we just need that mental sticky note to make all the difference :)

    @garry – In writing, like life, it helps to take a moment to think from the other point of view, that’s all this is really :)

    @Rafael – Indeed, if all we do is replicate why read our posts and not the original?

    @Danny – Yup, it is a cycle, and the more feedback we get the stronger it becomes

  22. @cpanel – Helping other people has had the most profound effect on my career of everything I have done. The challenge has always been to help in a way that is not doing all the thinking for them, but helping other people toward their own solution.

    @Evan – You can start with an idea of the who while being flexible in responding to feedback.

    @Cindy – Letting thoughts stew, and coming back to posts really does help. We are often in a rush which leads us to make all sorts of assumptions or to cut our thoughts down not for brevity but for speed. That’s why I often start with the “point” then work back :)

    @Vijayendra – Great headlines often have the target audience too, eg. off the top of my head “12 Compelling Reasons Realtors Should Blog to Make More Sales”

    @Bishop – Good point, sometimes anticipating questions is a great way to provide value also

    @Patricia – Exactly, each experience is unique and personal but can be of value to others when we can see the lesson in it

    @Herbert – Sometimes we just need that mental sticky note to make all the difference :)

    @garry – In writing, like life, it helps to take a moment to think from the other point of view, that’s all this is really :)

    @Rafael – Indeed, if all we do is replicate why read our posts and not the original?

    @Danny – Yup, it is a cycle, and the more feedback we get the stronger it becomes