Write Stronger Emails With Tips From Steve Jobs - August 30, 2017

In 2010, as Apple was readying the launch of its first iPad, Steve Jobs exchanged a series of emails with James Murdoch, a high-ranking News Corp executive and son of founder Rupert Murdoch. Although other content producers were already on board for the launch, Jobs was trying to get News Corp content on the iPad for the same compensation other publishers had agreed to, but Murdoch was demanding more.

In the end, Jobs won out and News Corp provided its content at the standard Apple rate. Natasa Lekic, founder of New York Book Editors, says Jobs used five tactics to successfully persuade Murdoch to sign on. And she believes these same tactics can be used by organizations to write more effective emails, as we reveal in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Have one purpose. In looking at the emails between Murdoch and Jobs in the exchange, Lekic noted that Murdoch wrote meandering sentences that included multiple proposes and questions. Jobs, on the other hand, kept each email focused on a single topic or question, eliminating the risk that an important point would get lost among the other points.

2. Keep the design simple. Apple staked its claim in product design with simplicity. Jobs adopted this approach in his emails, using simple lists and bullets as common design elements that allowed the reader to quickly skim and consume the information. In comparison, Murdoch's emails were comprised of long paragraphs that the reader had to work to deconstruct.

3. Remove filler words. The emails from Jobs didn't use filler words, and he kept his sentences straightforward and direct. Lekic suggests removing adverbs and adjectives such as "though," "really," "seems" and "that" to make sentences crisper and cleaner.

4. Use the active voice. The passive voice sounds timid and lacks clarity while active sentences have strength. Lekic provides this example: instead of Murdoch's passive voice "In short—we would like to be able to get something done with Apple—but there are legitimate concerns," use the stronger, active voice to say "We want to work with Apple—but there are legitimate concerns."

5. Close with your request. For the same reason that email marketers put the call to action at the end of the email, Jobs ended his emails with his request. Calls to action and requests in the middle of an email tend to be forgotten, but putting them at the end leaves the reader thinking about the next step.

PCT returns tomorrow with more quick, concise tips for success.

Source: Natasa Lekic is the founder of New York Book Editors, an editorial service that connects authors to veteran industry editors. In other words, they're nerdy matchmakers.

filed under September 2017
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