A diamond is a reader’s best friend [remember this tagline]. When it comes to writing relevant content for your audience, making the main point quickly is essential. As the pace of our lives quickens and the competition heightens, marketers have ever-shrinking opportunities to grab their readers’ attention. So…. don’t bury the lede.
Ever heard that term? Here’s where it comes from: “burying the lede” as defined by the English dictionary is “Failure to emphasize the most important part of a story or account.” Bonus fun fact: Back when molten lead pressed ink into newspapers, the newspaper business referred to the story lead as “lede” to differentiate it from the hot metal used in the printing process.
Don’t force people to read two or three paragraphs into your content to understand what your main point is (because they won’t). Instead, put the main point in the beginning or lead-in. In advertising school they taught us the diamond shape when writing copy: specific, general, specific [wasn’t it clever to say “A diamond is a reader’s best friend” as my lead-in?] Careful not to be too clever with your lede, it will only confuse the reader and add friction, and friction turns people off.
Think about every time you read something. Do you slowly analyze each word, searching out metaphors and links to your life? Or is it more like you’re skimming the article’s high points in a speeding cab ride to the office just before the big meeting with your boss?
I’m kinda thinking the later of the two is true.
Here’s an example of how to identify if your lede’s in the right spot in your email to pull your readers in:
The next time you write an email, read it aloud before sending it. Have you buried the lede? Have you mislead the reader with your headline? Will your reader get your main point in the first sentence or at least in the first two or three sentences? If not, try revising the email to bring the lede [main point] to the beginning—you’ll get more engagement from your readers and more action on your requests. Trust me, you don’t need any more reasons why your emails do not connect with your audience.
Write the most important information first with a great call to action that offers a great attractor. Then funnel your reader toward a conclusion, where you provide another call to action. I know this is hard. As writers, we have a tendency to want to lead up to our main point (see what I did there?), providing the background, the thought process, the rationale, then making our point. For classical writing, that works. For marketing writing, it doesn’t. Readers don’t invest time in reading emails or blog posts unless they can tell pretty quickly whether the email or the post will give them some value.
Remember, “don’t bury the lede” can also mean, “don’t bury your call to action.” Your call to action is the key to solidifying long-term engagement. It’s your golden nugget you offer people.
Make your call to action known immediately by having it visible as soon as the reader lands on your post. Don’t bury it far down the post. Hate to break it to you, but 75% of your readers won’t make it past paragraph 4. So a word to the wise, don’t hide that nugget for too long because the gold rush will be over sooner than you think
At the end of the day, it’s pretty simple: Lead in with the good stuff and provide a well-told story that enriches the experience of each reader.