Roving Report: Getting Inside the Mind of Your Audience

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What’s the first thing you need to do when embarking on a new writing project?

Get to know your audience.

Back in the “Mad Men” days, getting information about your audience was hard. Marketers worked with just the most basic demographic data — age, marital status, income, and such. Today, we have tools that help us learn so much more, including the actual language the audience uses to describe their problems, pain points, and hopes for solutions.

Wealthy Web Writer’s Managing Editor Heather Robson shared her favorite audience research tips and tools available for any writer today to really dig down and get inside the mind of any audience. The webinar is available HERE.

Start with the Basics

Pick your client’s brain

Start by talking with your client about who their usual buyer is and what they know about their audience. Don’t take everything your client tells you as gospel — sometimes they’ll project what they want to be true. You’ll need more information after you ask these first-stage questions:

  1. What can you tell me about your usual buyer?
  2. What’s your buyer’s demographic profile?
  3. What problem is your buyer trying to solve?
  4. What are their pain points?
  5. How will their life change with your product or service?

Sometimes the problem a product is trying to solve is obvious, but sometimes the same product can solve several different problems. For example, a weight loss product might also increase stamina.

“If the audience wants to increase stamina, but you frame everything in terms of losing weight, you won’t connect where they’re looking to connect,” Heather explained.

Answers to these five questions get you started, but you still don’t have enough information to connect with the audience on a deep level.

Dig a little deeper with your client. Ask them:

  • What emotions does your buyer experience?
  • How badly do they want a solution?
  • What’s your buyer’s status among their peers?
  • How will that change with your product?
  • What makes your buyer feel trapped?
  • What makes your buyer lose sleep?
  • What beliefs does the buyer hold?
  • What objections will they have?

Talk with others in the company

Up to this point, you’ve probably been talking with the company owner or the marketing director, but there’s lots more insight to be gained from other people in the company! Each will have their own experience dealing with customers, and their own perspective.

Talk with marketers, salespeople, and customer service reps, and don’t forget people like data analysts and developers.

Salespeople and customer service reps interact directly with buyers and can help you understand their disappointments and even give you samples of the actual language they use. They’ll help you address objections up front.

A developer may have made decisions about the product that could resonate powerfully with buyers, and a data analyst will have objective information about buyers.

When talking with them, discuss the product as well as the audience. Ask questions like:

  • What problem does it solve?
  • What’s its unique appeal?
  • How does the buyer find it?

Does the buyer find it through a sales page online? An email? Social media? Advertising? Work the buying process backward to find the step before that, and the step before that, until you get to the place where the buyer is unaware of the product.

This will help you understand the buyer’s journey.

Learn the Buyer’s Language

Buyers have pain points and problems, and they’re looking for solutions.

If you can present a solution using the language they use themselves, your message will connect in a powerful way. If it uses different language, it may not connect at all.

Use the internet to dig in to what people are actually saying so you can mirror their language and make that strong connection.

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Susanna Perkins

Susanna was dragged back, kicking and screaming, into freelancing after losing her job in the banking meltdown in March, '09. One 3-month stint in an appalling temp job persuaded her to get serious about establishing herself as web writer. In March, 2012, she moved to a small town in Panama with her husband and three small dogs. After enjoying the writer's life in the culture of "buenas" and "mañana" for 2-1/2 years, she's returned to the US. At least for now.

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