Always Know Your Purpose
- On October 17, 2017
When Hervé Pierre, sometime stylist to First Lady Melania Trump, sits down to sketch, he asks himself, “Where is this woman going?”
“If you don’t have a purpose,” he told Vanessa Friedman, fashion director at The New York Times, “it’s just an idea on paper and the dress means nothing.”
The same holds true when you sit down to write any piece of communication, business or otherwise. You need a clear idea of its purpose. Do you want it to persuade or motivate your readers to believe or do something? Make them feel a certain way? Prompt a specific reaction?
Once you know that purpose, use all the assets at your disposal to achieve it—subject lines and headlines that deliver a clear message and opening paragraphs that get to the point. Don’t waste that precious real estate on background or scene-setting. And make sure your thoughts track logically, one to the next. That’s how you bring people in to your narrative, hold their attention, and ultimately get them to think, feel, or do the very thing you want.
In a special 100th anniversary issue of its magazine, Forbes printed a selection of readers’ letters from the past century. In 1920, the inventor Thomas Edison wrote, Sir: I read Forbes. I like it. It stimulates people to work, to think and to do things to make progress in the world.
Purpose, indeed. Purpose achieved.