Stop Writing for the “Last Sinner”

Ever come across an email or blog post like this?

John Smith, CEO of SmithCo, will be speaking in room 305 on Friday, August 31 at 5:00 p.m. Registration for this event is mandatory. Register on the website by WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29, no later than 5:00 p.m. Late registrations will NOT be accepted!

FrustrationThe author was obviously frustrated. Let’s call her Sally. Sally’s the event organizer. She organizes events every month, and every month some people fail to follow instructions. They don’t register. Instead, a few invariably show up unannounced and throw off her catering arrangements.

Her emails and posts started out polite and professional. But over time, as her annoyance grew, there were more specific deadlines, harsher warnings, more capital letters, and even bold red text!

Now look at what she’s posting. It’s more about registration than it is about the event itself.

Sally’s writing for the “last sinner.” When she’s creating her content, she’s picturing the last few people who caused trouble — and she’s writing to them.

It’s understandable, in a way. But there are a few problems with this approach.

The right people aren’t going to notice.

If the “trouble-makers” weren’t paying attention before, they probably won’t be paying attention now. Besides, trying to scare people into registering is only going to work if attendance is mandatory. Otherwise, it’s just going to turn people off.

Other people are going to notice.

Those trouble-makers may take up most of your time in the office, but they don’t represent the majority of people you’re trying to reach. What’s Mary, who always registers on time, going to think when she reads this post? What about the new person who found this page through a search? You’re not representing your brand well.

Rage blurs your message.

After John reads this message, what’s he going to remember about the event? REGISTRATION IS MANDATORY! But what’s the event really about? Why should he even bother attending? Focus on clearly communicating how the event will help (or delight) people, and registrations will follow.

Don’t picture the last person who made you tear your hair out when you create content. Instead, focus on communicating with that entirely reasonable human being you’re trying to help. Sometimes they’ll even be the same person.

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