Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Web Writing:
Know Your Demographic

If you’ve been writing professionally for more than two weeks you know what the demographic is. For the rest of you, the demographic is the sweet spot of your client’s market. It’s your target audience.

And the better you understand that target the more effective your writing. It’s all about pushing the right buttons to compel the site visitor to perform the MDA – the most desired action.

Who Are You Selling To?
The Target Demographic
Believe it or not, many of your clients won’t be able to describe their target audience. Let’s say you’re hired to write website content for a brick-and-mortar hearing aid retail outlet somewhere in Montana. (It could happen.)

The owner of the store may have had a lock on a 25 square mile service area – the only hearing aid dispenser in the region. So, dropping a quarter page advert in the local newspaper was all it took to create a profitable business. And the store owner never gave more than a thought to who she was trying to reach.

So, during the discovery phase you ask, “What’s the target demographic?” Your likely to get an incomplete answer: “People who need hearing aids.” However, that’s a broad demographic so a little research might produce a better return for your client.

Research the Demographic
Hearing aids. So you’re likely to immediately think of the over-50 crowd. Probably right. Nerve deafness goes hand-in-hand with aging so trying to hit that over-50, Baby Boomer demographic bubble may be just the way to go.

But, what do you know about this particular group, other than what you know about your grandparents and the 60-year-old neighbor next door? These people don’t make up a large enough group to actually define the needs and preferences of people over 50.

For example, a little research reveals that the over-50 crowd:

  • Are less likely to use computers at home
  • Are less likely to comparison shop for products on line
  • Don’t make as many on-line purchases
  • Are less familiar with local search engine options
  • Scroll less than their younger counterparts
  • Spend less time on line altogether
  • Are not as tech savvy as younger computer users

All of these factors create a clearer picture of who you’re targeting with your writing. For example, if you know that seniors don’t scroll as much as younger people, all of the important stuff must be at the top of the page.

Use the Language of the Target Demographic. Jargon Sells!
What do these people want and need? What information do they require to make an intelligent buying choice? How do they talk to each other? Your writing should use the language of the target demographic.

Let’s say you’re writing a user manual for a mainframe computer company. (It could happen.) You better know what a trouble ticket is and what downstream consequences are. You can quickly learn the insider jargon by visiting websites that sell mainframes or service them.

There’s jargon in every profession. It’s a form of shorthand. But it’s also exclusionary, keeping out those who are NOT members of the gang. So, the use of the demographic jargon (1) enables you to present information in shorthand form and (2) makes you a member of the exclusive group of mainframe computer administrators.

The best place to look for industry-specific jargon is on websites and blogs designed to provide solutions to the specific demographic. These sites detail what the demographic wants so to cut down on research time, cut to the chase and go hang out with the people you’re trying to reach.

That’s the best way to learn the lingo. And deomographic wants and needs, as well.

What Does Your Target Demographic Want or Need?
Increased productivity? Faster shipping? A baby-soft maternity gift? If you don’t know what the target market wants or needs you can’t push the right buttons to induce the site visitor into taking the MDA. In other words, your text missed the mark.

Before you write a single word, know to whom you’re writing. Know how they talk then talk right to them.

Know what they need or want. Then meet those needs and wants.

Don’t rely on your client to give you the goods on the target demographic. Most of these people are focused on business matters. It’s up to you to hit that bull’s-eye sweet spot with your writing.

And if you do, guess what? You just added a regular to your client base – a buyer who will come back for more without any effort on your part.

And repeat buyers are the basis of success for any freelance web writer. So know to whom you’re speaking when you write. Take aim at that bull’s-eye and fire away.

The more times you hit the mark, the more of the client’s problems are solved. And the bigger your client base grows.