1. No of table of contents.
- This is one of those things that should just be a minor annoyance but it’s frustrating to me because I know they’re so easy to put together! Ideally, I’d like a clickable table of contents but recently I’ve been getting a lot of reports that don’t have one at all.
- Here’s the thing… it’s super easy to put one together, here is a tutorial if you don’t know how. It increases reader usability. They get an at-a-glance of the entire report and when they’re done they can go to the ToC, click on a chapter they want to reread, and they’re there.
- In fact, if you don’t add a table of contents, it makes you look like you were either too lazy to do it or too lazy to figure out how to do it. That’s not really an image you want to be giving your readers, now is it?
2. The introduction is too long.
- Every report has an introduction. It’s where you share a bit about yourself so your reader can get to know you, maybe relate to your story, and it allows you to build your credibility by telling them why they should listen to you. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t mind getting to know people and hearing how they got where they are. It’s easy to make mistakes here though, so be careful.
- If I’m buying a product, I’m buying it to learn something. If I wanted to read an autobiography, there are plenty of those I could have purchased. Don’t tell me your life story, stick to what is important and relevant. I don’t need to know where you went to high school unless it’s actually relevant to what I’m going to be learning. If you went to college to study English that could be good to know if I’m learning about writing better blog posts, grammar, or anything related to that.
- If you want to share some special personal stuff here, go ahead, but don’t go overboard with things that don’t apply.
- The best thing you can do here is telling us a bit about yourself, explain why you’re an authority on this subject and why we should listen to you, and be ready to get into the part we’re all waiting to dig in to.
- Oh, and another thing. I just paid money for this report. You don’t need to spend 10 pages telling me how awesome this system is. I don’t need you to sell me a product I just bought.
3. Having no cohesive plan of action by the time I get to the end.
- Another thing that really bugs me is when I read a report and it’s a bunch of fragmented steps and thoughts. There is nothing that pulls it all together so I can start taking action. If your product is a tip sheet that’s sole purpose is to be a list of helpful tips, that’s fine, but if it’s a guide or tutorial you want to make sure at the end your audience knows what to do to get started.
- In my experience, there are two great ways to do this. One is to write the entire report as step by step instructions so they can just follow along as they go. If you do this, before you sell the report try reading it and doing the steps as you go along to make sure you don’t miss anything or explain anything out of order.
- The other way is to include a bonus set of action steps. This could even be included as a bonus for your product and could be a selling point. Either as the last chapter or a second PDF, make a list of action steps that your reader can take to do whatever it is you’re teaching them to do. You could even include the page numbers of where in your guide they can find more information for each step.3
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