Technology, journalism, social media and social responsibility
The only problem is, nobody has to read it.
The challenge is to draw readers in, grab their attention, and compel them to read more.
In this article, I’ll show you how to focus on your audience and identify a compelling need. And, I’ll make a promise that doing so will reward you with increased readership, loyalty, and credibility.
Writing to your audience doesn’t mean making your content salacious or trendy, edgy or controversial – although with some audiences, that doesn’t hurt. Instead, it means framing your material so it satisfies the needs of a particular group of readers.
Looking at this list, can you see how each potential type of audience could have different expectations for your material? In fact, some might even prefer seeing it as a vlog instead of reading it.
Here are some quick tips for identifying your audience and writing to it.
1. Is my audience corporate, small shop or hobbyist? A corporate audience is on the clock, wants highly relevant information fast. Bullet points, declarative statements and charts or graphs work best. Small shops and hobbyists appreciate a more thorough explanation. Amateurs appreciate a conversational style, perhaps even a sense of humor. (In all cases, you want to avoid the risk of offending your audience by sounding condescending.)
2. What does my audience need from me? This is a key question. If you write an article that isn’t somehow useful, your readers will figure that out fast. State what your audience can expect, right up front. It’s one of the reasons “How To” articles, such as this one, are so well read; the title tells it all. Going back to the video presentation example, let’s say your audience is B2B corporate marketers, and you are trying to convince them to use more video in their presentations. You might try a title like, “How Video Grabs Our Customers’ Attention” or “Why Our Buyers Get It When We Show Them A Video”.
3. Make a promise. Believe it or not, reading is a transaction. I will read your article if you promise to help me somehow. You may, for example, promise to educate, entertain, or inspire. By promising a transaction, you engage your readers, which encourages them to continue. For instance, in the video presentation article, you could promise your readers that they will learn valuable shortcuts for making visually interesting videos. Once you’ve made this promise, you become part of the transaction as well, so be sure you pay it off or you will discourage your readers from coming back again.
Frequently, in the world of high-tech marketing, I come across the phrase pain points, as in, “We have to show our customers that we understand their pain points so we can gain their trust.”
In terms of article writing, that’s not always true. In fact, dragging out a list pain points can drive readers away. Why?
Several reasons. First, you probably won’t solve all of them in one article. So you run the risk of breaking a promise. Second, you might have missed a few, so you run the risk of neglecting a need. Third, different readers have different pain points, and they might not all care about each other’s concerns. An executive, for example, might be cost-conscious while an engineer would require a certain level of quality control.
The point is, while it’s a good exercise for you to understand your audience’s pain points, it’s not always helpful to bring them up in an article.
Focus on your audience, identify a need, and promise something of value. For that, you will be rewarded with increased readership, loyalty, and credibility.