Monday, January 06, 2020

Copywriting: How to Recognise Your Reader


Understanding Your Audience

You need to really understand what it is that your reader wants, and how they feel when they read your advertisement.

Who Are You Writing For?

When you're writing copy, you're not writing for everybody, just a handful of people that are genuinely interested.

When it comes to advertising you can't be all things to all people because you'll end up with no customers.  Rather appealing to the people most interested and who will appreciate your product at the end of the day.  These are the people who are easiest to persuade.

In order to communicate your message effectively you need to first understand then be understood.  It stands to reason that if you don't know who your reader is you can't write for them.  Or worse still, you may write copy for yourself that pleases you and not your client. 

Here are some examples of how your reader might live:

1. Identify People by age, gender - People born after 1980, or women over 40.

2. Finances - Homeowners with income over £60,000 pa.

3. Interests - People who like playing computer games.  People who play squash.

Three ways to consider how your reader lives, what they want and how they feel:

1. Identify readers by their buying habits - People who only buy from the high street.  People who only buy second-hand cars.

2. Identify readers by their product knowledge - People who don't use the internet.  People who have bought from the brand before.

3. Identify readers by the buying choices - People who only shop at Tesco.  People who only wear Marks and Spencer clothing.

How many of these points you'll actually need will greatly depend upon the product you're writing copy about.  A good example of this is a product such as kitchen roll.  Most adults buy kitchen rolls so you'll need to narrow down your target audience. 

There may be many digital projects that have points that determine the audience. Online ads are delivered through programmatic buying, which means the audience can be identified through known factors such as location, gender, age, or marketing emails sent using a particular profile of people, such as finance managers.

Particular products such as those aimed at the clothes and health care market, are also specifically pointed towards a particular group of people.  Overall you can't base your copy on the reader's profile, avoid stereotyping your reader and defining your audience by terms like 'retirees' or 'housewives'.  You need to look at how the reader wants and feels.

What Does Your Reader Desire?

From the outside you know how your reader looks, but what about the life they really live.  What do they have going on right now? What new things do they want to bring into their lives and what do they want to get rid of?

Here are some options for business to consumer:

1. Have more free time.

2. Save money.

3. Get fit.

Here are some options for business to business:

1. Improve efficiency

2. Reduce overheads.

3. Build new skills.

Both of these options show that there isn't much difference between business to consumer and business to business readers.

Not all products require personal details to identify the reader, a good example of this is anyone wanting to get fit.

All of these examples show that not all readers will match up neatly with the product, or what it does. 

Empathising with your reader

When you empathise with someone it's not enough to intellectually analyse how they act, but seeing what they see and feel.  You need to take a leap of faith, realising that at the end of your experience it may have changed your life. 

Researchers have found that pain and empathy are felt in the same part of the brain.  That's why we literally feel pain when we empathise with someone.

When you empathise with someone you start respecting someone else's feelings, and start acknowledging their experience and their own personal reality.  People start listening to you when you get down to their level.

Clearly it's impossible to listen to every single individual because you're building something that has to reach as many different people as possible.

Start thinking about some of these questions:

  • How does your reader perceive themselves now, or in the future?
  • How do other people see them? How do they think others perceive them?
  • What kind of person would they like to be?
  • What is it they want more or less of?
  • What do they look forward to in the future?
  • Do they have a problem that needs solving?
  • What could change their life and make it worse?
  • How do they see the world?

Empathy is something you should take very seriously.  It should be at the core of what you do.   If your reader doesn't share your beliefs they are unlikely to listen. 

You don't want to force people into believing something, instead you want people to see things in their own way and want to buy. 

Not all purchases are driven by emotion, often people just want to buy a product that does the job.

Examine the Reader

A simple way of getting to know a customer is by asking them directly.  They'll tell you their real thoughts about the product, why they like it, how it helps them which helps you to empathise with them.  You'll also hear the downside of the product and important things that need addressing.  You could find a family member or friend who's also used the product

You may also find that people don't express their real thoughts about the product, and instead give a rational answer.  It's important to think about what they say and do.
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