ReporterI was doing a last bit of consulting with a client this afternoon, reviewing their soon to be unveiled service, and something struck me, something I’d so internalized 25 years ago as a reporter I was (temporarily) at a lost for words: like reporters, microISVs need to layer their message.
If you’ve ever been exposed to journalism in the slightest way, you’ve heard about the good old inverted pyramid style of reporting – you know, most important stuff first, then work your way down to the minor details. Makes it easy to cut stories to fit from the bottom up – but there’s a powerful algorithm at work microISVs, startups and SaaS need to tattoo to their foreheads until it sinks in: you can’t learn something new until it’s associated with something old – even if “old” is 5 seconds ago.
Whether you’re writing the copy for your web site, planning a screencast or scripting a demo, make the effort to build your message by associating each chunk of new information with what you’ve already laid out.
For a web site, you start with a Hook that’s short, sweet and above all else is an idea that everybody can get. Then you start working through your message, getting more detailed, more technical, more finegrained. As the reader (or viewer, or listener) goes down the trail you’ve laid out, take the time to connect back to what you’ve already said, what you’ve already started to explain. Use the power of association to make it easy to follow the dots.
It’s easy – too easy – to forget that your reader, viewer or listener is getting hit with a mass of new information. You want that to be a gentle caress, not a baseball bat.

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