Knowing Your Audience

October 22nd, 2012 09:00am CDT by Nathan Schaad

This is the fundamental question one must answer in order to write to their audience. If you don’t know who your audience is, how can you possibly be expected to write to them? Moreover, if you don’t know what your audience wants, how can you expect to deliver it to them? These are the questions that you should be asking before you ever set pen to paper (or sit down to type) if you are writing any piece:

  • What Are They Looking For? If you don’t know what your audience wants to read, you’ve already failed to write to them, because they won’t listen to you if you aren’t providing the information that they are seeking.
  • What Does Your Audience Think of When They Think of Your Industry? Take a look at your competition, and see if any patterns emerge. If they do, then you can expect that this is what your audience is expecting from your business within that industry. The trick here is to set yourself apart without disappointing expectations.
  • What Does Your Audience Already Know? If you are writing a web page for a plumbing contractor, you are going to write quite a bit differently than you would if you were writing for a cancer research center, because your audiences can be presumed to have different interests, and probably different vocabularies.

If you can answer these three basic questions, then writing for your audience is simply a matter of delivering the information they want, in a way that is both innovative and non-disruptive, in language that is both easily understandable and non-patronizing.

That doesn’t help, does it? That’s okay: Few businesses nail all three. If you can only nail one, nail the first one, and you’ll see fewer people bouncing from your website and improved lead generation.





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