I remember I visited a restaurant in South America that wanted to replicate the Chipotle model.
If you walked into the small establishment, you would see the serving bar in front of you, and you would choose what you wanted in your bowl.
The problem was that most of the customers were unfamiliar with that model.
They wanted to either sit down and order or quickly ask for an item at the register. Following an attendant and customizing their plate didn’t fit well.
In that situation, the business eventually created a hybrid model that gave the person a choice of what they wanted to do.
But the issue at its core was whether there was a demand for it and that they needed to coordinate an education campaign to help customers see the value in the model.
The business needed to guide customers.
When we are writing, we want to write minimally as possible. Each sentence should have a purpose. If we have one more line than we need, it’s fluff.
But there comes a point when writing plainly or to the point won’t work.
When search intent does not match the exact topic, the writer has to navigate readers down the journey of recognizing what they need.
For example, if a middle-aged man is searching for why his hair falls out, he wonders why he is losing hair quickly.
There’s a good chance he’s thinking about bad hair products or something temporary. But by age 35, two-thirds of men would have experienced hair loss or thinning.
So first, we should satisfy their search intent by providing immediate details on possible external culprits.
Then, we carefully guide them with the likelihood that it is genetic and that they are going bald. The article would point to long-term solutions to remedy their situation.
So while the piece would have dived into situations that may not have been directly relevant to permanent natural hair loss, it satisfied a real search intent and helped the reader along his journey.
If you read websites and literature across decades and platforms, you’ll see a wide range of lengths and styles of writing.
Many of them break the rules. Some are too short. Some are too long.
And it brings up a very important point: there is no wrong way to write. The “right” writing is unique to the audience and their intent.
A student wants something informative. A traveler on a plane wants to be entertained.
My job as a writer is to identify someone’s search intent, meet those needs, and tie it into the article’s goal.
“Fluff” is unnecessary writing. Until it isn’t.