Clear communication has always been the main goal of public speakers and presenters.
However, when you put that information into a niche where life and death decisions are at the forefront of the message, utilizing a format where you place the most critical conclusions up front is paramount.
For military organizations, this also means having a uniform format for presenting data in a clear and concise way, as they simply do not have time to read the hundreds to thousands of pages of documents that they come across regularly.
Referred to as the BLUF Technique, the process makes it easier for the reader to immediately identify the most conclusion part of a document and pick out specific pieces of data that they might need to read further.
It’s simply designed as a way to provide better efficiency and understanding for the end reader. And it works on everything from reports to emails.
However, you don’t have to be a five-star general to make the BLUF technique work.
It can also be a very simple way to improve your content marketing and enjoy benefits like better conversions, increased understanding by your audience, and more.
In this guide, we’ll go over what the BLUF meaning, where it comes from, and how you can use it as a content marketing strategy.
BLUF Meaning: What is This Technique?
If you or someone you love has ever been in the military, you already know these organizations love their acronyms.
In this case, BLUF stands for bottom line up front.
It is a structure that essentially uses the conclusion at the start of the content piece to give readers a clear understanding of what’s in the document and the ultimate conclusion that you’ve reached.
The style is also a good way to indicate a particular stance or position before you start to dive into the details surrounding how you got there.
However, it is important to realize that the BLUF Technique does not provide a summary, but the actual conclusion of your information up front.
In most cases, it is even tagged with BLUF in the very beginning. For example:
BLUF: Website conversions for the month of July are down slightly, which has a significant correlation between summer holidays and the high percentage of our target market being on vacation during this time period.
BLUF in Military Training and Guidelines
So, where does it come from?
The BLUF Technique is actually included in military guidelines and training.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone who is familiar with how organizations like the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force operate and their reliance on formal guidelines.
For those who are curious, BLUF is specifically mentioned in Army Regulation 25–50: Information Management: Records Management: Preparing and Managing Correspondence.
In chapter one, it outlines how individuals should use this style to create all reports, documents, emails, and memos.
Remember, the goal is to try to save time for commanders who are in the field or otherwise need information more quickly.
This is why the BLUF Technique is formally part of the process of creating documents in a military setting.
Why Should You Learn How to BLUF?
You might wonder: why is the BLUF Technique important if you aren’t in the military and never plan to be?
The answer is that it is a highly effective method for business writing and content marketing, too.
By learning to keep your most important information up front, you give your readers and website visitors the data they need to make key decisions more quickly and effectively.
In turn, this can lead to a higher conversion rate and an improved time on page — simply due to the fact that they know very quickly whether the content you’re providing should answer their questions or give additional information that they didn’t already have access to.
And this process works in other areas besides just written content, too.
It’s a great practice for business and sales presentations, where giving the customer the most important information in the very beginning could save you both a ton of time and effort.
Especially if that’s the only thing they need before making a purchase decision.
And it can also be used in formatting website pages, advertisements, and other pieces of content.
Simply, by giving your audience or lead what they need to make a decision or take a stance from the very beginning, all you have to do is fill in the details from there.
In turn, this saves time and effort.
Formatting BLUF in Your Content Writing
Do you need to tag every opening statement with BLUF?
Not really. It depends on the type of content and your overall buyer persona.
If you’re simply writing an article for your website, then you could tag the top paragraph with the words bottom line or similar.
But if your target customer is someone who might have been in the military in the past, you could go ahead and use BLUF. They’ll likely know what you’re talking about and appreciate the nod.
You can also use a special visual call-out box, which makes it easier for your audience to spot right away.
And it is also important to understand that there are times when you do not want to use BLUF as a writing technique.
Why? It can sometimes come off as cold or impersonal.
If you’re trying to create a conversational tone or persuade someone to do something, then it might not be the best option.
However, at times when you’re attempting to report detailed information or create explanations of events and concepts, BLUF is very useful.
How Does BLUF Help Your Writing?
The process of using the BLUF Technique in your writing offers several benefits.
➤ First, it gives you the main focus upfront.
This allows you to stay on that same train of thought without getting sidetracked along the way.
➤ In addition, it can make it easier to fill in the details of what you’re trying to communicate, sell, or even explain when you already have an idea of the final outcome.
Think of it as spoiling the ending before you’ve even started the introduction paragraph.
➤ Finally, it makes your overall writing tighter and more succinct.
In certain business documents, using fluff and flowery language isn’t appropriate. BLUF helps eliminate that issue by putting everything out front first.
While BLUF isn’t ideal for every circumstance, it can be a good option for business reports, emails, or highly technical documents where getting to the main point swiftly is incredibly important.
Additional Tips to Keep in Mind About Implementing BLUF
For someone who has always used the bottom line at bottom (BLAB) technique, it might be difficult to instantly switch to BLUF.
And that’s perfectly understandable.
To help you make the transition, here are a few additional tips to keep in mind about implementing BLUF.
BLUF Isn’t Always a Good Idea
There are certain times when you want to keep your conversation casual, build suspense, or increase rapport.
In that case, BLUF probably isn’t your best option.
Putting Bottom Line is Better for Factual Content
Persuasive content isn’t always a good idea for BLUF.
When you risk alienating your reader by including your controversial position in the beginning, you should usually skip it.
However, the process is excellent where you’re using the BLUF statement to quickly summarize facts, such as in an incident report.
BLUF Can Seem Cold in Tone
There’s a reason why the technique is preferred by the military.
It is quick, swift, and mostly unemotional — all elements necessary in a battlefield-centric niche.
For those engaging in marketing, this can be seen as a negative, making it important to choose wisely when to utilize it.
Wrap Up: Using the BLUF Technique for More Concise Writing
What is BLUF meaning?
If you’re looking for a better way to write business emails and other precision content, then starting with the BLUF technique is definitely a good idea.
However, just be sure it is the right fit for your overall tone, audience, and information delivery first.
BLUF can be exceptionally useful in email marketing. Our guide on how to craft messages that sell can be a great way to improve your email blast response rate. Check it out!