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How to Reach Your Audience through Words
By Melinda Copp
As a writer, the most important person in your work life is your readers—the people who pick up your book, buy it, and take the time to read it; the people who see your article and contact you for more information; and the people who go to your web site and decide to buy your product or service. Your readers are your audience, the people you are trying to reach and persuade. Therefore, you should always keep your readers in mind as you write.
So what does that mean? Well, first you have to know your audience. Who are they? Where do they live? What do they need? What are their habits? Then you have to step into their shoes and look at the information you’re presenting from their perspective. Let’s consider the process one step at a time.
Who is Your Audience?
You probably know more about your audience than you might think. They are the people who need what you have, whether that’s a product, service, or information. For example, if you’re writing a book about potty training, your primary audience is moms with young children. Your secondary audiences might include dads, daycare workers, grandparents, and child development professionals. By this point you should know exactly who you’re writing your book for, so take out a piece of paper and list your primary and secondary audiences.
What Does Your Audience Want?
Now think about your audience. What are their needs? What do they want? What’s important to them? What do they like to read?
Let’s examine the primary audience from the potty-training example—moms with young children—layer by layer. What do moms need? Well, on layer one, need their child to be out of diapers, sooner rather than later. Now if we look a little deeper, we understand that moms’ lives tend to be pretty busy and hectic—take it from someone who knows—so you could say that moms need simplicity. They need the potty-training solutions offered in your book to be easy to implement and maintain.
Next—what do busy moms want? What’s important to them? Well, they want to stop changing diapers, obviously. But they also want their toddler to feel good about going to the potty. To a mom, nothing is more important than her child. So, you have to write in a way that’s simple and easy for busy moms to manage, and write in a way that reassures the mom that her child will gain confidence and feel supported throughout the potty training process. Now think about what’s important to your audience and how you can present your information to reflect that.
Where and How Does Your Audience Get their Information?
Let’s keep going with the example above—where do moms like to get their information? This one is a no-brainer; they like to get their information from other moms. When moms get together, they share tips, struggles, and ideas. They like to talk to their friends about the problems they’re having. This is why parenting magazines are written in a conversational, girlfriend-to-girlfriend style. If you’re writing a book about potty training, then that’s the style you should use to convey your information to your audience. And every sentence, example, and anecdote you put on the page should reflect your audience and their needs, wants, and challenges.
How Can You Write for Your Audience?
You’ve probably heard this example: imagine you’re writing an e-mail to your boss about a recent business trip to Hawaii. The information you convey in that e-mail and the tone in which you convey it will be very different than an e-mail you would send your best friend about the same trip, right? If you want to keep your job, then the two e-mails will probably be very different. Tone plays a role in writing for your audience as well, and I’ll cover tone in more depth in chapter five.
But for now, as you’re writing, ask yourself:
Hooking Your Audience, and Keeping them on the Line
Regardless of what you’re writing about and who you’re writing for, you can ask yourself these questions about your audience and write in a way that speaks directly to their needs and wants. Communicating well with your audience will make your information resonate with readers and your writing will be more successful as a result.
About the Author:
Melinda Copp is a writing coach, ghostwriter, and book editor who specializes in helping aspiring authors reach their writing goals. Sign up for her free e-zine at www.FINALLYwriteabook.com.
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