The whole reason you write is to communicate your ideas. So, your writing must be accessible to your readers. Whether you are writing a website, a blog, or a white paper, taking your readership into consideration is the single most important factor in ensuring your message is understood. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Identify and Characterize
Determine your audience, and think about some of the things its members have in common. See if you can come up with a composite description of your typical reader. For example, “My typical reader is a 43-year old male looking for a new job.” The more specific you can be, the better.
Simply working in your field, you should have a pretty good idea of who you’re talking to. Things like feedback on your blog, attendance at your seminars, and who is following you on social media sites should help to narrow it down. And, tools like Quantcast can provide information about who is interested in your topic by showing you the demographics of people viewing your website, and others like it.
Be Concerned About Their Concerns
Now that you’ve identified your audience, focus on their concerns. For example, you can brainstorm about what your 43-year old male job hunter is concerned about. If he’s currently out of a job, he’s probably concerned about money. If he’s not, perhaps he’s looking to take the next step in his career. Maybe a career change is in order. It’s possible he wants to change jobs in order to spend more time with his family.
You can do a survey of your current clients or customers to get specific information about their concerns. Use an e-mail service like Constant Contact, or try using a service like Ask Your Target Market, which will conduct a market-specific survey for you.
Consider What They Want to Know
Think about what your readers want to know, and ask them. A 43-year old male job hunter probably needs to know about things like how to create a good resume, how to interview effectively, where to find job leads, and what types of jobs to look for. Again, online feedback will help here, as will your surveys.
Help Them Solve a Problem
Promote your services in a way that responds to your readers’ needs. Using our example, if you provide career counseling, point out that with just a few sessions, a 43-year old male job hunter will have a sparkling resume, confidence with the interview process, a list of resources for job searches, and an understanding of the type of job he is targeting.
Always strive to answer the question your readers are implicitly asking: “What’s in it for me?” Remember, features are about you and your product or service, while benefits are about how you’re going to make THEIR lives easier. Write with a focus on benefits.
Find a Format That Works
Different people like to receive information in different ways, and there are many options, including e-mail, social media, websites, blogs, and, yes, even printed documents. Find the appropriate format for your audience.
How do you get in tune with your readers? Please share in the comments.
About the Author: Karen Marcus, M.A. is a Northern Colorado copywriter and grant writer who has been helping clients in a wide range of industries to put their best word forward for 13 years.
Need assistance getting in tune with your readers? Karen can help! Click here for contact info.