“I find myself endlessly fascinating” Julie Burchill

Would you say such a thing about yourself out loud? I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard writer and journalist Julie Birchull utter that phrase to Kirsty Young on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs a few weeks ago.

I guess you can get away with it when you’re the star of the show and people have tuned in to hear you. And it’s no doubt a prerequisite for anyone whose job is to have a strong opinion and to express it publicly. But when you’re relatively unknown and trying to attract a new audience or customer, it’s a turn off.

Your job is to make the other person interested. To get them to draw their own positive conclusions about you. And the easiest way to do that is to focus on them. So how do you get started?

Relevant Abruption

One way is to employ a technique known as relative abruption. As the name suggests, it’s a somewhat abrupt interruption of the reader’s train of thought at the time, but relevant to their needs or interests. Here’s a example:

Some time ago a well known UK automobile company did a very effective mailing campaign to lapsed break-down service customers. They sent an A4 sized piece of cardboard with the addressee’s home town hand-written in marker pen on the front. MILTON KEYNES.

On the reverse the copy read something like this. “Dear Mrs Smith, we’re sorry you’ve chosen not to renew with us this year. Keep this card in your car. It may come in handy next time you break down unexpectedly on the motorway.”

It then went on to say it is not too late to renew and furthermore if Mrs Smith did so in the next two weeks she could enjoy a special discount rate.

That’s relevant abruption. You’re butting in on whatever thoughts the reader may be having at the time but in such a way as to grab their attention and make them realise they are indeed interested in what you have to say.

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