7 Strategies for Driving
Relevance & Resonance
in Written Content
Good writing does not succeed or
fail on the strength of its ability to
persuade. It succeeds or fails on
the strength of its ability to
engage you, to make you think, to
give you a glimpse into someone
This is the outside of Malcolm Gladwell’s head.
When our content doesn’t address the
audience’s needs right from the start,
they move on to content that does.
An inconvenient truth
1. Be the Audience
What gets and keeps you interested?
Investigate your own experience as a
content consumer to learn what
2. Define Your Audience(s)
Who, specifically, are you trying to
Develop persona(e), not labels, to
understand your audience better.
How you describe your audience in terms
of traits, values, needs/concerns and the
experience/feeling they want to have.
Busy parents seeking safe, educational after-school
care for their kids.
Tenants who need off-hours repairs.
3. Focus on Purpose
What do you want the audience to
think, feel and/or do?
Guide content & improve results with
a clear purpose & call to action.
Purpose | Call to ActionPurpose | Call to Action
What you want the
audience to think/
What you want the
audience to do
TAC is a good steward of
my donation/I trust TAC
The people I like to
associate with support
I’m proud of my
involvement with TAC
Come to TAC events
Continue to support
Encourage others to
3. Increase Relevance w/Questions
What are the questions and
objections the audience may have?
Anticipate & address audience
questions, push-back & concerns.
What questions/objections might your
What’s in it for me?
Why should I care?
Is this relevant to me?
What do you need me to do?
I can’t afford it/I don’t have time.
5. Increase Relevance w/Details
What evidence, explanations &/or
examples address needs, support
Use details to expand on key
concepts, answer questions &
Main Idea Key Details
The one most important
thing you want the
audience to know
The big idea or take-
3 Kinds of Details
Evidence: facts, data; helpful to
Examples: anecdotes, stories;
useful for re-affirming or showing
descriptions; critical for curious,
uninformed or new people
6. Connect w/Voice & Word Choice
Who does your audience want to
Use voice and word choice to appeal
to audience & build credibility, trust.
Word choice builds trust, drives voice
Choose accessible, meaningful words.
Use plain, not boring, language.
Explain jargon & technical terms as
How-to tips: http://bit.ly/RSruBI
Choose a voice that sounds like
someone your audience trusts and
wants to hear from.
Connect audience and writer
How-to tips: http://bit.ly/MUrgqN
Voice establishes credibility,
relatability and trust
Yet another inconvenient truth
94% of reading decisions happen
before the prospect has even read a
word of your content.
- Heidi Cohen
7. Design to Entice & Inform
How can we make the content more
accessible and interactive?
Formatting, design, links,videos,
images and social sharing help
readers engage by consuming,
interacting with and sharing content.