Very few of us have the luxury of writing for ourselves – we write for other people, the target market we are trying to connect with. If what we have to say isn’t what they need or want to know, they’ll find the information somewhere else.
Our job is to put ourselves in our readers’ shoes. One of the best ways to do this is to develop our “customer avatar” to create a full portrait of our ideal client.
Who Do You Want to Reach?
Do you work mostly with women or men? Both? Do you have a preference? Remember, you are building your ideal client. Women and men use very different language and therefore are drawn in by different language.
How old is your ideal client? Are you coaching 20-somethings in how to pay off college loans quickly or consulting with CEOs of medium-sized companies?
What Do They Want to Know?
One of the first things I have my coaching students do is research other books or courses in their niche and sort through the reviews—good and bad—to see what people want to know. People may want to know about certain things that you, as an expert, think are irrelevant. If a topic comes up often, whether it’s in your coaching calls or other people’s book critiques, you need to address that topic in your book, if only to explain why it’s not relevant. There’s an old adage: Sell them what they want and give them what they need. I’m not talking about granting every stray request from outliers, but if review after review of books in your niches say, “I wish the author had talked about X” then you should definitely address that topic in your book.
How do They Want Their Info Delivered?
There’s a reason why the better home study courses come with a manual plus an audio or video accompaniment. Different people learn in different ways. I learn best by reading; if I’m listening to something, I need to take copious notes or I won’t remember a thing. I have many friends who love podcasts. They’ll listen and learn all day long. The only time I’ll listen to a podcast is if I have no other way to get the information. Podcasts are hard for me. BUT they are the preferred mode of learning for many people. So yes, from time to time I do podcasts.
Younger people lean more towards video and audio. It seems like millennials were born with earbuds in their ears and a smart phone in their hands. Older people (and I include myself here) grew up reading and most learn better that way. In general, older people have longer attention spans—you can write longer, more complex, sentences and chapters. Younger people grew up in a time of quick edits in commercials, TV shows, and movies. You need to keep changing things around to keep them interested. The novelist James Patterson writes chapters that are two to three pages long. Compare that to Steinbeck whose chapter lengths can average eighteen pages or, if you’re really a glutton for punishment, take a look at James Joyce’s Ulysses.
You need to deliver your information in the way that is easiest for your target market to take it in. Male or female, older, younger, education and economic status—all of these factors and more should shape how you write and deliver your information to your readers.
Take some time to put yourself in your readers’ shoes. They’ll be glad you did.