Beware of telling readers what they already know

We all know to beware of telling our readers what they already know, but one of the easiest ways to fall into this trap is to spend too much time on the setup to our story. This could be in a case study, a white paper or a how-to article.

In all of these, it’s tempting to spend far too much time talking about the past rather than the future, or the situation customers are already facing. However, this is the stuff that the reader already knows, and while it’s good to give them something they can relate to, we need to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. I’m sure many of us groan inwardly when we start reading a document and immediately see a long section with the heading “Background”.

After all, we probably know the background already. The three act structure is a tried and tested technique in sales and marketing, but as many pop song writers have discovered, ‘don’t bore us, get to the chorus’.