Know Thy Audience and Respect Them


If you’ve owned a business for literally any amount of time, you know one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself is, Who’s my audience? For some companies, this is a simple question. For others, it’s complex: they offer a variety of services or products for a variety of people and, basically, all they know is they have one.

Now, regardless of who your audience is, there are three things you can’t forget about them: 

  • They are important
  • They are intelligent
  • And, lastly, they are BUSY

And, no, I don’t mean busy. I mean, BUSY.

Let me give you a great example: you. You’re our audience. And, I’ll bet most of you are skimming this article. You’re looking for interesting or useful information before you dedicate any serious amount of time to reading this.

And, honestly, good for you.

We live in a digital age, which means EVERYONE is vying for your attention. Whether it’s advertisements or a Facebook post (or both: you know those sponsored ads that seem to follow you everywhere), you’re given a number of ways to spend your time. Why not be fussy about how you spend it?

As a business, though, you need to remember that your audience feels the exact same way. You might be the best local or international business in your respective city or planet: if you don’t respect your customers – your audience – they won’t listen to you. After all, as my mom used to tell me (and, if asked, she’d tell you the same thing; trust me): you get respect by being respectful.

So, how do you treat your audience right? How do you write respectfully for an audience that’s important, intelligent, and BUSY?

Short of spending five years completing a writing degree – which was my chosen method – here are a few pointers to get you started:

  1. Get to your point. Are you selling me a product? Are you telling me about your company history? Tell me that, and tell me that now.
  2. Explain your jargon. I’m intelligent, but I’m not an engineer or a rocket scientist or a dentist. I don’t know what tooth 48 is. I do, however, know what a wisdom tooth is.
  3. But, don’t overexplain. As I said, I don’t know what your jargon is, but I’m still intelligent. Concise but clear explanations are all I need to understand.
  4. Be not Shakespeare. You know how Shakespeare can take about four lines of poetry to say, “No thanks?” Do you also remember how much most students hate Shakespeare? Don’t be like Shakespeare. Say what you mean.
  5. Be human. Above all, treat writing like a conversation. I’m a person, and you’re a person. The less I feel like just a number in your computer – or an algorithm on Facebook – the more likely I want to interact with you.

Beyond these, if you’re still struggling with those words, ask for help. Writing is hard. In fact, writing is complex and nuanced, yet entirely vital to this digital world. It’s a craft that, like all others, takes years to master. So, take courses, ask questions, find copyeditors, hire copywriters: whatever you need to do.

Like your audience, when you respect the trade, the trade will respect you.



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