By May 29, 2012 Read More →

Writing for your business – how to identify your target reader

Leda Sammarco, writer's coachToday I’m delighted to welcome back writer’s coach Leda Sammarco to explain that it’s not about you, it’s about them:

When I ask someone who they are writing for, they often say, “Oh, it’s for everybody.’ Altruism aside, if you try to write for everybody, then you risk appealing to nobody in particular! Your message needs to reach your core readership; if it appeals to anyone outside of that group, it’s a bonus. It’s the same with running a business; you are far more likely to be successful if you serve a specific niche.

First of all think about why you want to write. For example, you may be on a mission to help people become more confident and lead a truly authentic life. You then need to become very clear about the precise nature of the problems these people face. For example, are they shy and socially awkward or do they lack-esteem and find this is negatively affecting their working life?

This will help you to build up a complete picture of them in terms of gender, age, profession, background, desires, values, worries and needs. There may be a client, friend or family member who accurately represents your target audience or even a character from a novel or a film. You may find a picture of someone in a magazine who embodies them or you could give them a name such as ‘Scared social mixers’.

If you keep your ideal reader in mind as you write it will help you to:

  • Be passionate and share a really strong message that can inspire change
  • Stay relevant and provide the appropriate information in an accessible and engaging way
  • Remain focused on the solution you are providing to their problems and release any doubts or silence your inner critic

Writing is a partnership between you and your reader. It is about maintaining your integrity as a writer and what you have to say, whilst acknowledging and respecting your reader and what they are looking for. Although your writing will always be yours, once you send it out into the world it will also belong to your readers, so why not start the journey together?

Leda Sammarco empowers spiritual entrepreneurs to write their first book. She works with authors in a partnership way to help them write their book and get it out into the world. Leda has recently written and self-published her first book Finding the Gold: One Girl’s Search for Her Purpose in Life, an inspirational memoir with self-help elements.

Click here for all posts by Leda Sammarco, writer’s coach.

11 Comments on "Writing for your business – how to identify your target reader"

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  1. Very helpful step by step post, Leda.

    For me, finding my voice has been the most difficult part, and I helped myself get there by doing what you suggest. It’s clear and focused and helps to find the way through the fog.

    For my website, I found writing copy for it to be much more difficult than I expected. Writing a blog I can be myself – write for my reader as myself – for my website it’s a bit like acting, where it’s half third person, half me and half projecting for someone.

    • Thank you, Rosie. I’m so glad you found it helpful. It’s always a bit of a balancing act, but if you focus on what your reader needs and what their issues are and then allow your own personality to shine through when addressing those needs, you’ll find your way.

  2. This is excellent advice.

    As a copywriter, a large part of my work is in reviewing (and improving!) my clients’ drafts. The principal weaknesses, across the board, are lack of clarity on who the intended readers are and what needs to be said, in what way, to engage those people and encourage them to take the desired action.

    It’s essential to get these basics sorted before starting to write – along, I’d say, with crystal clarity on what that desired action is.

    Nailing these three issues down also delivers a couple of additional benefits.

    Firstly, since you know what you need to say, and how to say it, the empty screen tends to be a lot less terrifying than it otherwise might.

    Secondly, when you’ve completed your draft and are reviewing and editing it, you have what amounts to a tick-list, against which you can check it. Does it speak effectively to your intended audience? Does it say what needs to be said ? Does it encourage the desired response?

  3. Hi Adrian, I’m really pleased you enjoyed my post.

    Thank you for sharing those additional benefits. I agree that when you clarify these upfront it allows you to get in the creative flow.

    I like the idea of your tick-list too – sounds like a great way to stay focused on all the key points.

  4. One of your first points “if you try to write for everybody, then you risk appealing to nobody in particular” is a key, foundational piece. When you write to everybody, or speak to everybody, not only do you NOT appeal to your desired client, but, then, too, you have trouble narrowing down on the exact problems you can solve. And when you can’t figure out what you can help with, it’s so difficult to write from that murky and vague place.

    I thought it was a very nice image to speak of starting the journey together. Thanks for this post.

    • Thank you for sharing that, Mark. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. And yes, if you don’t know who you are writing for, then you can’t address their needs – very true. I like your image, ‘murky and vague place’ – made me think of dark and muddy water, so a good analogy.

  5. Phil Morris says:

    I agree, you can’t write for everyone. It’s like the saying that you can’t please everyone. But you can write with passion and you can write content that’s worth sharing. If you can go back and say, that’s worth sharing, you’ve done a good job.

  6. Hi Phil,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m a big fan of passion and believe it’s a fundamental ingredient of great writing. As you say, it’s about sharing great content and I believe that this will draw our natural readers to us.

  7. I’m also a copywriter, and I would say that a good rule, albeit an obvious one, is to use the word “you” more than you use the word “I” or “we”. Copy that talks about your clients’ needs and wants and how you can fulfil them, rather than going on endlessly about what you do, can feel more personal and directed. I wouldn’t use it as an unbreakable rule, but it a good revision technique to look at the balance in your copy.

  8. Thank you for your comment, Rosie. I agree with ‘you’! Talking directly to your readers in this way is important, whether you are writing marketing material, a blog post or a book. It can connect you to your readers.

  9. ryan says:

    Hello Leda, I have never thought that in dept about when i write, This is excellent advice and i will remember what you have taught me the next time i am writing something.