My job includes constantly searching for industry and consumer trends, so I subscribe to a voluminous list of trade and news publications… more than I could possibly read thoroughly on any given day. However, I’ve taught myself to speed-scan the headlines rapidly, and separate the important stories that I need to know from the merely interesting stories that might be nice to know (if I had more time).
Chances are, you do precisely the same thing as you’re checking email, your Facebook page, or your Twitter feeds. At rapid-fire speed, you visually sift through hundreds of messages… “Junk, junk, junk, junk… Oh! This one looks like something I should read!”
I don’t raise this issue because I care about the way you prioritize the information you consume. I raise it so you’ll stop and think about the information you send.
When your client or prospect receives your message, logic tells us that it resides among hundreds—perhaps thousands—of other messages and issues that are screaming for that person’s attention.
So before you hit “send,” ask yourself whether the content you’re sharing—especially the subject line—is “nice to know,” or “need to know.”
Hint: If the content relates to something you sell, it’s probably not that exciting to the recipient. (I’m sure it’s “nice to know,” but the recipient is less likely to see it as critical.) Can you change the context of your conversation to focus on what the customer sells, or the solution they’re seeking? In doing so, your message is more likely to be escalated to “need to know” status.
You know first-hand that “nice to know” emails are sentenced to months of confinement in “Inbox” purgatory, until some weekend when you have a chance to delete all that junk that’s cluttering-up your life. Your clients and prospects are likely to behave the same way. On the other hand, information that people see as Need to Know earns a more prompt response… and eventually, revenue.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published March 18, 2013, and has been revised and updated.