Don't write what you want to say, but what your target audience wants to hear

16 September 2022

Texts on your website or social media are your way to convince your target group about your service or product. Are you using the same language as your target audience? If you’re not, your message will miss, and you run the risk that your text will be ignored. A waste of your time and effort, isn't it? Here’s our 6 tips to get your content the attention it deserves.

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Put yourself in your target group’s shoes

Many companies write from an internal perspective. They talk about their strengths and outstanding qualities from their point of view. Impressive, certainly, but no one wants to know why you are so convinced of your own abilities. They want to know what your expertise can do for them. So make sure you have strong, tailor-made arguments that your target group can identify with.

To do that you need to get to know your target group inside out. "Who are they, what do they do, what drives them?" – in the words of Flemish TV presenter Jambers. So ask yourself, ‘What do your customers want to hear? What keeps them awake at night? What are their dreams? What gets their attention?’

Once you know this, you can re-position the message from your perspective to theirs. Talk about definite benefits, rather than general traits. Don’t make a list of specifics points, but take the time to turn them into clear points that are easy to process, and appeal to their emotions.

For example, you might convince a car freak with stories of stunning acceleration, but it’s a spacious boot that’s music to the ears of a family with three children.

Be relatable and authentic

It doesn’t matter if you have the best product or the smartest solution, if the reader doesn’t click with your brand, they’re gone. You don't even get the chance to convince them. So make sure that your target audience knows that they’re in the right place. Because your potential customer isn’t just interested in building confidence in your product or service, they’re also interested in you as a provider, in your brand, in other words.

If the topics that you're talking about don't interest your target audience, then you're going to be disappointed. It doesn’t matter how well written your text is or how convincingly it is constructed. For example, talking about current energy prices to a house full of younger people is a waste of your time, and you’d be better discussing climate change. By looking for common ground with your target audience, you do not speak at them, but to them.

So find out what interests your target group and respond to it. Make your story relatable and tangible. Your underlying message remains the same, but by linking it with your target audience’s world, you arouse their interest, and they are more inclined to listen to you.

Avoid using stock photos. Your texts might be strong but they’re instantly less authentic and credible when there is a typical toothpaste smile stock photo next to it that says nothing about your company.

Also, by taking a position on social issues, you encourage consumers to build a stronger bond with your brand and attract like-minded people. Curious about what your brand and social themes have to do with each other?

What you say is important, how you say it even more important

Speaking the language of your target group isn’t just about knowing what your target group wants to hear, it’s also about understanding how they want to be addressed. Don't just think about the right topics and channels, but also about the way you want to communicate. Find a tone of voice that fits your brand.

Tone of voice goes beyond finding the vocabulary that fits the identity of your company. It’s the atmosphere you create, the way you package your message and how you respond to certain situations. Light-hearted or serious? Decide which tone suits your brand.

A strong tone of voice makes it easier for your customers to be loyal to your brand. Does your style of communication and brand identity show individuality? The consumer can recognise your brand faster, you create feelings of familiarity, and you can distinguish yourself from the competition. So make sure your brand is recognisable.

Wondering how to give your brand a clear identity through your tone of voice? Did you know that there’s such a thing as a tone spectrum that you can pin different touchpoints to? Read all about it.

Imagine your target group is sitting right in front of you

A good trick to know how to appeal to your target group is the ‘grandmother principle’. Imagine that you are sitting in front of your grandmother and that you have to convince her about a certain product. Because you get her instant reaction, and it makes you think more clearly about why you’re communicating the way you are and how you do it.

You need to choose your words carefully and take into account her way of speaking and thinking. Do you start with a lot of detail, or do you start gently with 5 intermediate steps? There’s a good chance that she’ll lose interest, and then it’s too late because now it’s impossible to change her mind.

So think about how you would approach a face-to-face conversation and use that in your text. Because even if you don't see the reaction face to face, the people you are writing for are real people, they’re not robots.

Don't keep your reader waiting

Imagine: you're in a meeting and your bladder is full. How attentive are you during the rest of the conversation? Do you listen with concentration, or are you watching the clock, counting down until you can go to the toilet?

The same goes for your target audience. A fantastic testimonial or an attractive offer? Your potential customer doesn’t see that if their need hasn’t been met. "Do you have what I'm looking for?". You’ve got to convince them of that quickly. Therefore, make sure you answer the most pressing questions first, and put your main message at the top. If your customer finds what they’re looking for there, only then will they have an eye for the rest of your story.

By the way, did you know that reading on a smartphone or laptop is 25% slower than on paper? Because the light tires your eyes and pixels make letters harder to read, it's harder to get an online reader to go through long texts. Another reason to get to the point quickly.

Build a consistent brand identity

If you don't monitor your tone of voice closely, you can undermine your whole brand. Are your texts written by different colleagues, or do you have inconsistencies in your storytelling? Then you run the risk of sounding slightly different everywhere.

You’re not only undermining your brand identity, which also damages your brand recognition, but you also lose some of your credibility. The bond you’ve built and the effort you’ve put in can be destroyed in the blink of an eye.

Therefore, make sure that everything is connected. Your tone of voice, website, logo, social media channels. They determine your brand identity. A playful tone of voice but a corporate logo? That can seem strange and unreliable to your target group. Make sure the overall picture makes sense. This is how you distinguish yourself from the competition and build your profile as a strong and recognisable brand.

Do you need a communication partner who’ll take care of your tone of voice and provide consistent, converting texts that work? Our copywriters are here to help you.

Do you need a communication partner who’ll take care of your tone of voice and provide consistent, converting texts that work?

Our copywriters are here to help you.

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Evelynn Vercaemst
About the author
Evelynn Vercaemst
Creative Copywriter iO

Evelynn talked before she could walk and never let go of her love for language. 30 years later she works as a Creative Copywriter and loves translating every message into a convincing story. She has a soft spot for British English and dives headfirst into the search for a catchy tagline or strong concept.

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