How to connect with your audience (3 of 4)

Thanks, greeting card, that’s just what I was thinking!

I’ve already waxed philosophical with tips about how to identify your audience, and identify with your audience. Now that you have a little Audience Avatar in your head, scrutinizing everything you write, it’s time to figure out how to make your audience happy.

To “connect with”you audience, you need to go a step past identifying with them. To put this in context, here are the steps I think you need to take before you can communicate with your audience:

  1. Identify your audience
  2. Identify with your audience
  3. Connect with your audience
  4. Communicate with your audience

As I said in the prior posts, we need to be quick and effective, to minimize any impact on schedule and budget.

You might ask “What’s the difference between identifying with my audience and connecting with them?” Even if you don’t ask that, I did. So I’ll answer:

I think “identifying with” them is something that you’re doing throughout your content. That’s about how you write the content that’s there.

But I include “connecting with” them to indicate you need to intentionally “pull them in.”

Stated another way: You get them (you identify with them). But put that into action. Why do they care that you get them? You need to connect with them.

That might mean adding some content just to pull them in.

This is more natural for copywriters, who might leverage their headline and opening. But it’s less common for technical writers, who need to consider opportunities like their structure, headings, and any introductory text.

In some situations, it might even work to “section out” this content, as in a more conversational “About Us” page on a website that mostly focuses on technical information, or where readers are very task-oriented.

So how do you connect with this audience?

Here are some options to consider:

Meet them where they are

Re-frame their situation. Use narrative or even just a descriptive sentence to restate their situation—something that makes the audience say “Yeah! Exactly!”

Warning: Of course you should test this by showing to an audience sample. Your audience’s might can be surprisingly unified, so that you can state it effectively for the vast majority. But if their situation differs, or of you get it wrong, it can work against you to say “Here’s where you are…” and leave them saying “No, it isn’t.”

Show the benefits

This is especially for copywriters: Don’t talk about features, talk about benefits (if your audience wants a feature list, link to that too). Talking about benefits connects the dots for your audience.

This can be tricky if it means combining two or more features to think in terms of an overall beneficial experience. Again, narrative can help. In fact, this is a great way to lead readers to an “aha”moment, where they envision themselves with a new capability rather than just trying to think “Have I needed these features? I don’t really think so…” Instead, leave them thinking “Oh yeah, I wanna be able to do what that guy did.”

Tie in goals and priorities

You know your audience’s goals and priorities from identifying with them, so make sure you tie them in when you “meet them where they are,” and tie them in with the “benefits” narratives too. You might even want to explicitly state them, to make sure people understand you’re on the same page with them.

As above, this is good to test with an audience sample. When you’re getting this specific about targeting your audience, you can miss the mark if you’re not getting their real feedback.

To sum it up:

Once you have your Audience Avatar “in your head,” put that into action and show them why they care about what you have to say—illustrate the benefits to their real-day life. Where you can, use narrative to get them “on board,” then take them along where you want them to go.

 

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