Knowing your audience is an essential to writing engaging content that supports your business and drives it forward.
(And let’s not forget that supporting your business and driving it forward is the reason you spend time on creating content. It’s not to fill blog space or hit a newsletter deadline.)
As a small business owner, you know the simplest definition of your audience is this: your ideal clients, current and prospective.
There are plenty of reasons to understand your audience/ideal client at a deeper level. It impacts what you offer and how you can best be of service, of course, but it also opens the door to creating more engaging content that draws examples and anecdotes from their experience, not yours.
And that’s how people recognize themselves in your content.
It’s the difference between starting a message with
“As a frequent business traveller, you…”
which is a serviceable but generic fact that could apply to anyone, and
“As a C-suite coach who knows where the closest Starbucks is in every major U.S. airport…”
which is much more specific, telegraphs that you get what their life is like and is likely to be highly relatable.
Details makes the difference.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get into the minds of your audience to mine for details.
Use The Pixar Pitch Formula
There is a ton of info out there about the movie studio’s creative process. Former Pixar employee Emma Coats created a much-shared series of Tweets that defined Pixar’s approach to creative storytelling and is credited with breaking down every Pixar film into a series of six sequential sentences:
1. Once upon a time there was …
2. Every day …
3. One day …
4. Because of that …
5. Because of that …
6. Until finally …
Try filling out this formula on behalf of your ideal client. Can you let your brain wander and play to come up with scenarios? When my client Jody did this, she was able to move from talking about “stressed-out workers” (okay, but a little bland) to a much more specific “someone who realizes she’s reaching for a drink or two every night to wind down enough to fall asleep.”
Get 4.23’s Prompts
Subscribers to The 23rd got an exclusive peek at a few of the prompts I use with my Master Your Message clients in this month’s edition.
Go check your inbox, Gmail Updates or Gmail Promotions tab (but hopefully not your spam folder!) for a message from Barbara Govednik sent October 23. Not a subscriber? I’ve got you covered, too. If you get on the list by October 31, I’ll send you the October issue so you’ll have a sample of prompts, too.
And for those of you who know that using prompts or doing the Pixar Pitch exercise is not gonna happen (because you don’t have time or you find exercises like this goofy) here’s one last approach: Listen.
Listen to what your clients and prospects say about their days, their challenges, their attitudes, the things getting in their way.
You can do this everywhere -- in client conversations, at networking events, at holiday parties, in the departure area waiting for your next flight to board, among the clump of people at Starbucks waiting for their afternoon pumpkin spice lattes.
Keep your ears open and make notes. (You will forget. Yes, you will.)
I have a deeply populated Evernote file with snippets of conversations and comments I’ve heard that later find themselves in my messages (including one that led to the strange-but-true subject line of this month’s The 23rd!)
For instance, because a lot of people talk about how daunting it is to start writing with a big, white, blank screen staring at them, I frequently write/say that "If you're starting with a blank page, you're doing it wrong and making it way harder that it has to be to write great content for your business.”
I am speaking directly to the issue my ideal clients have told me they have. They read that, they see themselves in the words, they feel understood, they might get curious about how to do it right. It brings them one step closer.
Trust me, no one despises writing for writing’s sake more than I. It wastes everyone’s time — yours and your audiences. So don’t do it. Understand your ideal client enough to be able to build their reality into your content.
Remember, if this kind of insight and guidance helps you write on purpose for your business, get on the list for The 23rd so you never miss a bit of advice and you’ll be first to know about everything 4.23 will be offering in 2019.