How to relate to your audience.
To really connect and engage with people, you have to relate to them first.Sometimes brands forget this. It can feel as though they’re standing across theroom, waving their arms and shouting, “Hey, over here!”
Peopledon’t do what marketers want them to. Often, people think one thing and then go and do something, which is completely the opposite. You can’t make someone feel, do or act a certain way. But by being more in tune with people, you can anticipate this crucial flaw – the thing that makes us all individuals – and accept it. And that’s key to being more human.
Here are a few ways to help you speak to your audience in a more human way:
Write to a person, not to a target market
Saying ‘Know your audience’ is perfectly sound advice and a good place to start. Do the research and build up a mental picture of them. Of course, this goes much further than marketing brief descriptions such as ‘ABC1’, ‘male’ ‘professional’ or ‘car enthusiast’
The more you can find out, the better. Observe your audience socially (or through social media). Look at the friends or brands they’re talking to, how they talk and the kind of words they use. Get a proper feel for who they are, and what they’re interested in.
When it comes to the writing, just write to one person in that audience.
(I always find it helpful if I can think of someone I know who most closely resembles my audience. Then I ‘talk’ directly to that person.)
Have a reason for writing
Why are you talking to this person? Keep that in mind otherwise you’ll lose track of where you’re going, and what you want to achieve.
Are you trying to win their attention? Make them feel a certain way? Get them to do something? You don’t always need to demand action or have a specific point to make – just remember why you started that conversation.
Be respectful, too. It’s amazing how many brands forget to reply to people who tried to engage with them. Or worse still, ‘drop’ people once they’ve fulfilled their perceived usefulness. Do you think those customers are likely to come back again?
Write it like you’d say it (and then read it out loud)
When we talk, we’re more likely to be straightforward and natural. And that’s the thing to try to emulate in writing – so that the words flow like a conversation. It’s more human.
It’s fine to use simple words, to sometimes start sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’, or use contractions such as ‘you’re’. What spell-check might consider to be a fragment of a sentence is ok too – as long as it’s readable and makes sense.
We might change our tone slightly when we speak to different people, but all real life conversation has ebbs and flows. When you’ve finished writing, read it out loud to yourself. If anything sounds awkward or you run out of breath, just rework it.
Read what they read
Follow your audience around and see what they are into. Do they like the news as read from the Guardian, or from the Sun. Do they prefer big pictures with snappy headlines, or small pictures with Ben Hur’lean scripts. Explore and discover and you’ll find it a lot easier to work out character length and tone.