Today Mrs P asked me to look over a letter which was going to be used as a marketing mailshot for her parents' garden maintenance business.
I read through it and, although it contained all of the information they wanted to convey, I subjected it to my "so what?" test - and we decided it failed miserably. And redrafted it.
In common with so many written attempts to generate new business, almost every sentence in the letter began with "We" or "Our": in other words it was about the business not the prospective reader.
My tried and tested approach is to challenge the writer with the question "so what?" after each sentence.
So after "Our business was established in 1984", I asked "so what?" What does that sentence mean for the proposed customer? We then decided to use the following paragraph:
Established in 1984, we are a long-standing family business with a great reputation. This means that you can be sure you are dealing with a supplier you can trust.
By looking at each feature mentioned and making sure that we changed the emphasis to "you", by adding the resulting benefits to the proposed customer, we ended up with a much more powerful sales letter. And one more likely to earn a few minutes of the propect's valuable attention.
Next time your firm is sending a mailshot, either by letter or email, I suggest you subject it to the "So what?" test.