How to Define Your Readership

October 21, 2013 Steve Maurer

A story is told about a young man who lived in the desert. He didn’t have a steady job, but he did have excellent carpentry skills. After thinking long and hard, he decided to build something that would draw attention to his skills. Something big. Something interesting. Something unique! It would be something that would draw the attention of people for miles around.

And maybe, just maybe, he could sell this item to start a career with his beloved woodworking.

He finally settled on a grand project and began to work. Passersby could hear all kinds of noises emanating from his garage workshop. They would look at each other, scratching their heads and wonder what in the world he was building.

He had definitely drawn the attention of the town dwellers. It wasn’t long before one of the townspeople knocked on the door. When the young man answered, the citizen asked what he was doing. The young carpenter invited him in on the promise that he would tell no one else what the project was.

When the visitor left, he had a huge smile on his face. “What was it?” the crowd asked. The visitor told them that he sworn not to tell . . . they would just have to see for themselves.

One by one the curious townspeople entered, dying to see what the young man was up to. And one by one, they came out grinning as well. Soon word passed around the county that the young carpenter was building something absolutely marvelous and unbelievable. It wasn’t long before folks from miles around came to the workshop repeatedly to see his progress.

Finally, the day came when the young carpenter looked at his creation and declared it done. He grabbed a paintbrush, and hastily crafted a For Sale sign. Peering out of the door, he was amazed at the huge crowd of people that had gathered outside.

“It’s done, finished!” he cried out. “But, only one of you will be able to purchase this fine specimen of woodworking craftsmanship!”

Disappearing back into the workshop, he grabbed the garage door and flung it wide open. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he was stunned to see everyone turn and leave. Only the shifting desert sand and rolling tumbleweeds remained at the grand unveiling.

Not a single soul stayed around to make a bid on his finest creation: a meticulously crafted, wooden . . .

Boat!

Don’t make the same mistake with your content

Obviously, there wasn’t much call for a boat in the desert, no matter how beautifully and painstakingly crafted. The young man had followed his heart, but left his mind behind. He’d attracted plenty of lookers, but no takers. Content writers must be careful not to make the same mistake.

When coming up with your next great article, take care to see if the topic is interesting and useful, not just to yourself, but to your readers as well. You can do all of the topical research possible, measure and cut and bang away at your words and sentences and paragraphs. But, if no one else finds your subject matter useful or important, all the work was for naught.

You, too, will have a boat in the desert.

Research your readers as hard as your subject matter

Before you begin to write, you need to find out who you’re writing to and what they want to hear from you. You can write magnetic headlines and give a guided tour with well written subheads. Eventually, they will start reading your content.

But if it’s not something they want, if it’s not something they need, there will be no one around when you get to the call-to-action.

Only the sand and the tumbleweeds will remain.

Begin by figuring out who your ideal readers are, what makes them tick. You can start by building a profile of your reader, beginning with demographics. Ask yourself:

  • What is their gender? (you may need to create more than one profile, by the way.)
  • Are they single, married, divorced?
  • How old (or how young) are they?
  • Do they have children?

Go on to determine what car they drive, how big a house they own or rent, and what their general income is along with what they do for a living.

Then build a psychographic profile that will include their hobbies and interests, among other things. After that, try to build an emotional profile. What are their hopes and dreams, joys and fears, and even the things that frustrate or anger them?

Finally, give them a name. I find it makes your writing more personal, more conversational.

Now, go out and discover their needs and interests

Remember that you’re not sequestered in some candlelit cubicle, slaving away on a wooden desk with parchment and pen. You have access to the entire world through the Web. Get on some social media sites, or as I call them, SocMeds. Find out what people are talking about. Find out what is interesting or important to them, ask questions or make comments and then write FOR your audience, not at them.

For example, go to Twitter and search some keywords for your topic, both with and without the hashtags. For help using Twitter search, click here.

If you have a LinkedIn account, search out groups that pertain to your topic. Join to participate in the discussions. Some will allow non-members to view the discussions. But as a member, you have an opportunity to ask questions and tap into the minds of your potential readers.

Of course, search engines like Google and Bing will give you tons of places to go and find out what your readers want to know. Check out the blogs that are listed to see what people are talking about. For instance, click here to access Google’s blog search. Click on this link to search Bing News.

Your content marketing ship is ready to set sail and take you to exciting, profitable locations. You just need get your boat out of the desert and find your sea. Research your topic and readers’ interests and you’ll write more specifically to your audience’s needs.

Here’s to your successful content marketing voyage!

About the Author

Steve Maurer, Maurer Copywriting is a freelance copy and content writer in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His tagline at Maurer Copywriting , Professional Freelance Business Writing – Plain and Simple, explains both his target audience and his writing philosophy. You can meet him on LinkedIn or call him at 479-304-1086.

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