Understanding your target audience

target audience, copywriting, strategy, chairs

Before writing, you need to work out who your target audience is. That’s different to a buying group – those are all the people who could buy your product. What you need to do here is identify the people you can deliver the most value to – and the ones you’ll make the most profit from.

Choose a target audience

This is a scary decision – you have to be exclusive. You can’t talk to everyone who might buy from you. Why? Because if you try talking to everyone, you’ll end up having to be so generic that you’ll get no cut-through. Your biggest response will be indifference. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but if you’re exclusive with your text you actually end up including more people.

Define your target audience as a person

OK. So you’ve been exclusive and defined your target audience. Write it down.

Now the real fun begins.

Don’t just leave this target audience definition as a vague sort of demographic eg. “Small business owner” or “household shopper with kids”. To communicate compellingly, you have to get into the heads of your audience. Start by dreaming up a real personality to represent your audience. Lots of people talk about this as “creating a personae”. You use your instinct to imagine a person who’s likely to have thoughts, feelings and needs that represent the whole group.

This will allow your natural communications ability to come through – you’ll instinctively adjust your writing to suit that person. This will ensure you’re writing in a way that will properly connect with them.

Exercise: defining your audience as a single representative person

The following questions may help you to be specific. This is just a start point, not a comprehensive list .

What is your person’s name, age and gender?

What does he or she look like?

What does your person do for a living?

What kind of home life?

What kind of hobbies does your person enjoy?

How do they interact with your kinds of product or service – with your brand in particular, and with the market segment in general?

How would you describe your person to a colleague?

How would your person behave at a party?

What else is important to note about your person?

Talk to your person

Now you have a target audience persona, your writing decisions become much easier – you know how to talk to a person, what he or she cares about, what tone they’d like, what punctuation style they prefer. It’s the secret sauce to effective writing, at every stage.

Rowena Allsopp

Rowena keeps things on track at Words for Breakfast. She’s the one chasing up wayward copywriters, communicating with clients, making sure projects run without a hitch and managing our operating systems. Her digital nous and knack for building great client relationships come from more than a decade in the sales and digital marketing sphere, including […]

Helen Steemson

The lead copy writer and creative director at Words for Breakfast. She spends much of her time working with the copy writing team across a variety of projects.