Don’t Talk to Strangers. How to Get to Know Your Audience.
As a studio, your clients probably don’t all belong to one industry. They’re not all healthcare professionals, and they’re not all roofers. They’re not even all technologically savvy. You know what this means, right? It means you can’t talk to them the same way, and you can’t talk to them like strangers.
It’s what makes you love your job so much – you never see the same thing two days in a row. Mixing it up is what keeps the spark alive between you and your creative psyche.
But it’s also what keeps you running at full speed most of the time. As a studio, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of audiences of all different types, and speak to them individually. The healthcare worker is completely different than the agricultural farmer. They don’t think the same way, they don’t make purchases based on the same bits of information, and they don’t respond the same way to integrated marketing communication methods. That’s why there’s no rulebook for how to communicate with the rest of the world. If there were, it would be bajillions of volumes long, because it would be stuffed full of unique case studies. It ain’t easy.
Tapping into your audience can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Here are some things we’ve learned along the way to help us really get to know who we’re designing, and writing for.
Recognize the Importance of Your Relationship
When you’re working on marketing content, you’re not just putting words and pictures on a canvas and shoving it out into the world. You’re taking great care to speak directly to a group of people, and you don’t want it to seem forced. The overreaching goal is to make it feel like a conversation between you, and one other person from the target audience. So shift the way you think about them – they’re not just faceless beings who are going to spend money on your product. They’re friends, and you’re recommending something you think they would benefit from. You’d do it for any one of your _actual_ friends, so it needs to be genuine. Wrapping your mind around that is the first step.
Stalking Comes in Handy
Research, stalking, same thing, right? Not exactly, but in the age of social media, it’s close. We’re not talking following them around in your car to see where they go, and what they do, but we are suggesting you take a look at their online presence to get to know them better. Do they have a Facebook page? Who are they friends with? What do they like? What are they talking about? HOW are they talking? Any industry slang you can pick up on? What are they fired up about? You can do the same thing with Twitter.
A little creepy, yes, but necessary? Absolutely. Think about it. You already know all this stuff about your real friends. So if you’re going to talk to them about this product, you’d know the details of their lives and how to approach them. That’s how well you have to know them if want to gain their trust.
Take Your Knowledge for a Test Drive
Think you know everything there is to know about your topic? See if you can hang with those who live in the industry. If you’re writing for a car company, maybe you could chat with your mechanic next time you’re getting your oil changed. Listen to what other people are asking and talking about – absorb absorb absorb.
If chatting up your mechanic isn’t an option (or even if it is!) talk to your friends and family instead. Start up a conversation about the topic, and get a feel for how others perceive it. Even if they’re not exactly your target market, tossing your ideas around could open up a whole new viewpoint you haven’t thought of yet.
Yeah, you’re a marketer, but you’re also a consumer, and your experience counts, too. Think about what you would do if you were in this target market? Rather than trying to think like someone else, just think like… you.
When you’re creating content, whether graphics or text, you can’t jump in with your eyes closed. It takes time, passion, and a deep understanding of whatever industry you’re representing.