Prime Your Audience to Hear Your Message

by Michelle Salater on April 18, 2012


Speakers and writers are trained in the art of rhetoric, or communicating as effectively as possible through the medium of words. Rhetoricians know that there are specific ways you can prepare your audience to understand and respond to your message—and now we’re going to let you in on the secret.

Present Information Your Audience Can Digest

Your target audience is composed of people who learn in different ways, but in order for your readers to process new information, it’s essential that you follow the old-new pattern. Flight attendants do this all the time: when announcing where passengers will find their connecting flights, they always say the destination city first and the gate number second.

Why? Because we process information better when we get the old or familiar information first, and the new information second. In other words, we’re better able to process new information if it’s already linked to old information.

For example, if you’re selling a product that will help eliminate wrinkles from clothing, you’d want to advertise it by first identifying the problem of wrinkled clothes (old, familiar information), and then by presenting your solution (your product).

This formula is very simple, but it’s essential to stick to when you’re communicating with time-crunched prospects. Very few of your potential clients will be so riveted by your marketing materials  that they’ll willingly read them two or three times to make sure they’ve understood your message correctly.

One of your jobs as a marketer is to present your message in such a way that it’s almost effortless to understand after a first read, view, or listen.

The Old-New Pattern in Online Marketing Materials

As you create online marketing content , keep these pointers in mind to ensure that your audience is able to process your message:

  • Spend time developing effective headlines, subject lines, and opening paragraphs. If your message is unclear at the beginning, most people will stop reading.
  • Identify a problem or pain point (even implicitly) before providing a solution. Give your readers a reason to care about what you can do for them.
  • Proofread, revise, and edit. Nothing’s more confusing than something riddled with typos

    How do you process information best?



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