Bottom Line Up Front: When it comes to the average attention span of a reader in 2020, you don’t have much time to make an impact and reel them in. BLUF’s help you make the pitch, tell the story, or close the sale faster — and with better results. Read more below.

In today’s podcast, InkSoft co-founder and decorated apparel industry veteran JP Hunt talks frankly about the power of BLUF’s — also known as Bottom Line Up Front’s.

Utilized in the worlds of corporate finance and journalism frequently — although in those industries, they’re typically referred to as “Executive Summaries” or with “Don’t Bury the Lead” — the notion behind the concept is to provide the point of the written (or verbal) work up front.

Because, let’s be honest — people are busy. All people, whether they’re your customers or your prospective customers, your industry colleagues or your in-house employees, are looking for more hours in the day.

And because “busy” is such a commonplace attribute, and because the culture we’re most accustomed to is the culture of productivity, our attention spans have — on an almost yearly basis — decreased en masse.

In a study conducted by Microsoft in 2000, it was determined that the average attention span (or ability to focus) of a consumer was 12 seconds. Fifteen years later, in a follow-up study, that number went down — to eight seconds.

And most recently, a study out of the University of Denmark that was examining the global attention span average demonstrated a further reduction. Which means that, for the majority of us, reading anything beyond one paragraph requires some active energy. Because our instinct is to get in and out. Fast.

With the capacity for instant gratification ubiquitous and our ability to acquire any type of information, high-level or not, with just a few keyboard strokes, it’s no wonder that we don’t want to read through pages and pages of text before knowing what, exactly, it has to offer us.

That relates to anything. From content you release to help keep your customers informed — like newsletters and blogs — to your sales pitches themselves, you should always be keeping the essence of BLUF’s front of mind.

And that essence is to get to the heart of the thing fast. To let your audience know exactly why you’re writing (or speaking) about it in the first place, what it can do for them, and what their next steps have to be in order to get that value.

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The BLUF in Practice

If you head to the InkSoft blog and click on any article, you’ll find a short paragraph right at the top, under the title, filled in with a grey background.

This is the Bottom Line Up Front, and we make sure to use one in every piece of content that we release. Why? So our audience can click, read 2-3 sentences, and immediately know whether that particular blog is going to be of use to them, in their lives.

It saves them time, and it saves us from losing out on a reader who might’ve been dissatisfied by the article and turned off by our blog as a whole.

If you want to implement BLUF’s in your own in practice, it’s really as simple as compiling 2-3 sentences that dictate the point of the article, or report, or pitch, and putting them at the front — so they’re the first words your readers see.

Make sure you’re conveying the what, the why, and the why it matters to your audience clearly — and that you’re giving them a clear CTA to take action. Whether that’s to keep scrolling to learn more or to get in touch with you directly, as soon as you give them a path to follow, more of them will follow it.

At InkSoft, we think that the concept of a BLUF is incredibly useful — inside the decorated apparel industry and out of it. Like we said, you can use it in any piece of content, any report, and any pitch in order to make sure you’re conveying the heart of the message quickly, and making it clear that you respect your audience’s (or prospect’s) time.

For the complete scoop, be sure to check out the whole podcast episode — you can find it here


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