How to Target Specific Audiences with Your Writing
Successful content creates a link between your client and the client's target audience. As a writer, you have tools like voice, tone and point of view to make that link as strong and compelling as possible. To apply those tools skillfully, though, you must know who will be reading the content. Then, you can craft articles that resonate with your intended readers and help your client meet or exceed the company's marketing goals.
What are Demographics?
Demographics are the characteristics that the people in a target market share. These characteristics could include:
- Geographic location
- Level of education
- Marital status
- Family size
Marketing professionals select the relevant demographics for their target market and then design an outreach that will capture the attention of this particular group. For example, a university seeking more applicants might focus its marketing materials on people aged 20 to 28 who are high school graduates seeking night school courses to move up in their careers. It might choose a demographic located within a 500-mile radius of the campus and an annual income level around $30,000.
How Do You Pinpoint the Right Demographic?
Often, your client will provide you with information on a target market for the content you are writing. If the order instructions do not specify a demographic, you can look for clues to determine how to focus your content.
Consider the topic for the article and imagine who would likely be interested. If the topic is saving energy at home, for instance, anyone who owns a home may be part of your target audience. In contrast, content about restoring 1960s-era muscle cars would have a much more limited, niche readership.
You are likely to take some assignments that do not require a specific focus at all. When that occurs, you should simply follow the client’s instructions regarding reading level, topic and point of view — third person, second person or first person. This type of content may be informational rather than market-driven, such as an article about holiday travel statistics. It may be intended for a general audience in a wide demographic, such as tips for preventing colds and flu.
Using Voice to Resonate
As an author, you know that your choice and use of voice is a powerful tool for targeting a specific audience. Voice is the quality that gives content character and distinctive appeal. In creative writing, a voice is often an expression of your own unique worldview. In content that you write for clients, it should express the client’s unique viewpoint and value proposition to your readers.
If your client wants to come across to potential customers as a trusted friend, the voice you use in your content should express that. Naturally, you would not talk down to the readers or try to establish yourself as an expert. Instead, you could use casual language filled with warmth and feel-good images. The following two examples illustrate two very different voices that convey the same information.
- Formal, educational voice:
Reducing energy consumption on the residential level is critical to the minimization of global warming and the associated threats to human life. Homeowners must consume less electricity from fossil-fuel sources. They must cut down on their use of high-demand appliances such as clothes dryers, and they should consider replacing inefficient home heating and cooling equipment with more energy-efficient units.
- Casual, friendly and trustworthy voice:
As homeowners ourselves, we share your concern about rising energy costs as well as being kind to the environment. We help you make your home more efficient with some great alternatives to traditional appliances. We offer in-home HVAC systems that use clean energy sources. We partner with you in slowing down climate change, making the future brighter for your family and families everywhere.
The above examples utilize different points of view. The first is written from a third-person viewpoint, which typically the most formal and impersonal. It does not directly communicate to readers but speaks about them, which establishes distance between the client and the customer. It makes statements rather than offering suggestions.
The second example uses a first-person point of view, forging a direct link between the client and the audience, putting them on equal terms. It communicates a shared understanding that creates a common bond. In this example, you or your client offers help in accomplishing what has to be done. It communicates concern while offering solutions.
Finding the Right Tone
The nuance of tone is another important tool to call upon as you craft a targeted piece of content. Both formal and casual voices can convey various tones including serious, playful, humorous, steadfast or irreverent. Even a subtle difference in tone can win over or alienate your target audience. Therefore, you should select your words and phrasing with a specific tone in mind.
Let’s imagine you are writing content for a bill collection firm. The client wants the material to be serious and to the point but also welcoming to new customers. This calls for a carefully crafted tone that is matter-of-fact without alienating customers who want to keep doing business with those they have to send to collections.
Naturally, you should not be disrespectful when speaking about customers in arrears. Calling them deadbeats or crooks in your content does not reflect the tone of respect and forgiveness your client may be looking for. Instead, recognizing debtors as good people who face financial difficulties is a truthful approach that does not vilify or otherwise disparage people in debt.
Hitting the Target
As an author who uses voice, tone and point of view to craft targeted content, you have the potential to hit the bullseye time after time. All it takes is a purposeful approach to each article that results in a targeted, engaging piece of content for your client, and a clear focus that engages your intended audience.
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