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EPISODE 84: Writing for Sub-Audiences

by May 3, 2022Copywriter Collaborative, Podcast

Creating content that connects to your client’s audience is vital. But audiences are nuanced. How do you find a balance?

In this episode Jessi will cover:

  • Drill down into your client’s audience subsets.
  • Create flexible and adaptable content that speaks to your client’s diverse audience.
  • Discern if your client is spreading themselves too thin when it comes to their audience.

Creating content that connects with your client’s audience is one of the most important parts of your job as a content writer. If you’re not building a sturdy bridge between your client and their audience, your content won’t be able to help anyone!

But… audience is super nuanced! Even if your client has a specific, niche audience (or a defined ideal client avatar, or ICA), there will certainly be some variants and diversity. So if you write content for your client with a one-size-fits-all mindset, sometimes you’ll be casting that content net too wide.

In a perfect world, the content you write should be adaptable, flexible, and speak to a diverse audience with all the personality and resonance of a one-on-one conversation. That can be tough, so we also want to let you know that we also believe the content you write should be template-able to make it easier on you. Plus, your client doesn’t need to be speaking to everyone. It’s possible they’re spreading themselves thin in too many directions.

To summarize, the content you write for an audience should be flexible, but template-able. It should be able to speak to different subsets or nuances of an audience, but not spread yourself too thin.

So… how do you do it?

  • Talk with your client to figure out the different subsets of their audience.
  • Assess whether your client is casting their net too wide. Do their audience subsets make sense, or are they trying to appeal to everyone?
  • Make an audience Venn diagram. Where do the subsets of your client’s audience share similarities, and where do they diverge?
  • Match audience subsets with offers. Are there certain offers, programs, or services that fit certain subsets best? Drill down to figure out how and why.
  • Use conditional formatting when possible. This will allow you to switch up the messaging or offer to different subsets, so you can tailor the content.
  • Use templates when possible. Even if there is nuance in an audience, you can always use templates for content formatting to make your life easier.
  • Stay flexible. Businesses and people are ever-evolving, so keep talking with your client and continue listening to their (and their audience’s) feedback.

With these steps, you can help make your client’s content resonant, no matter who it’s speaking to.

 

Homework: 

  • Create your own Venn diagram for your own audience subsets. Then, do the same for one of your clients.

 

Services/Products/Offers/Freebies Referenced (for affiliate links or list growth):

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the copywriter collaborative podcast, where we're digging into how you can build a sustainable writing business. We're your hosts, Jessi...

Marie:
...and Marie. We're the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy. When we started our business in 2010, we had no idea what we were doing. We just knew we wanted to write. Since then, we've learned a lot and we've grown into a successful multi-six-figure copywriting agency with a talented staff of writers and project coordinators. We've served hundreds of clients and we've seen it all. We wish we could have had a resource like this way back then. So we created it for you.

Jessi:
We're here to share our and top tips to help you achieve personal and professional success in the copywriting industry. Every week, you'll get valuable insights from us, members of our team, and special guests. Whether you wanna write better copy, create a stronger copywriting business that can support you financially or both, grab your earbuds.
All right. Welcome back to another episode. And today we are going to be talking about writing for sub-audiences. I'm Jessi, I will be your host today, and I'm really excited to talk about this topic because I think audience is one of those nuanced topics that we could probably talk about for endless episodes. We've done some previous episodes around target audience, how we define audience differently from the ideal client avatar model that you may be familiar with, and how you can write for different audiences. And this episode is going to dive a little deeper into that idea of writing for your client's audiences, specifically writing for their sub audiences. So let me start off by defining what that means when I say sub-audience.
When we, as writers are getting an understanding of our clients clients, essentially our clients audience, we try to get to know them as intimately as possible. We wanna know their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their desires, how the product or service that our client is offering is going to help to bridge the gap between what they need and what the client offers. And if we cannot build that bridge, then the content that we're creating is pretty pointless. It's content for content sake, which is not helpful for anyone. It's extra work for you and it doesn't actually serve a purpose for the audience that you're writing for. So creating content that connects to your client's audience is one of the most important parts of your job. In fact, it is the most important part of your job. Your job wouldn't really exist if not for this communication between writer and reader and audience is nuanced.
Even when we say let's, I'm gonna use an example throughout this episode, I'm gonna say, let's say we're writing for someone who is a veterinarian that is their business. They run a vet business. They see dogs, cats, you know, people who have birds and essentially domesticated animals. So if I'm a writer who is creating content for my client's veterinary business, their audience is going to be primarily pet owners and their audience is going to have certain needs and desires around owning a pet. But there are subsets to that existing audience. So there are be offers that are really more specific to the dog owners who attend that veterinary clinic, whereas other offers maybe more specific to cat owners. And so there are sub-audiences within the main audience. There are more nuanced versions of the audience that different pieces of content can speak to. Whereas some pieces of content may just speak to the broader audience of pet owners.
And we wanna make sure that even our most broad definition of audience is specific enough that we're not casting such a wide net that we're trying to talk with everyone, but we also wanna make sure that we understood and those nuances and those variations so that we're not trying to write for something or someone where it's not quite a good fit.
If we're offering our new brand of cat food to all of the dog owners, that's sort of a waste of time and energy. But if we're offering our new 10% dental discount to both cat and dog owners, because both dogs and cats need dentals, that makes more sense. So understanding the variation in audience and understanding how those services are positioned within those variations is really important to the writing process.
So at its core, content and copywriting should be adaptable, it should be flexible, and it should speak to the audience as if it's a one-on-one conversation. And obviously that's one of the trickiest parts of being a writer, because you don't see the reader, you don't know who's consuming it. And so you have to anticipate how to make that sound like a one-on-one conversation. Which means you don't just have to know the audience really well, you have to know the offer really well. You have to know exactly who that offer is focused on, whether it's the broader audience or whether it's a specific subset and how that offer shifts what we're focusing on within the audience's psychographics, within their needs, desires, wants, all of that.
So on one hand, content should be super adaptable and flexible. But on the other hand, we talk quite a bit in this podcast about how you want to create systems and processes and templatize things. So we want content that can be templetized fairly easily so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time, and we want content that is super adaptable and flexible. It feels like these two things are kind of at odds with each other, right? You also wanna make sure that your client is not trying to serve everyone and spreading themselves in too many directions. Remember that old adage of if you're trying to speak to everyone, you're actually speaking to no one. So that's a lot to juggle. That's a lot for a writer to try and navigate. So let's talk about how you do it successfully.
The first thing is to think about the subsets and the whole audience, and sort of paint a picture of where the crossover is. I like to think about it in terms of venn diagrams, because I really like actually physically draw this out in my notebook. So what I'll do when I get a new client where there is variation within their primary audience, is I will get out a sheet of paper and I will draw a venn diagram, or maybe even a triple venn diagram with each circle representing a different subset of their audience.
So let me use an education client as an example. We have worked with a client who their business model within the field of education, focuses on people who interact directly with that education system. And there are sort of three main subsets there. There are are parents of school-aged children, there are teachers of school-aged children, and there are administrators of school-aged children. All three of these people, these types of people are invested in a high quality education for the students. And so if I'm sitting down to get to know the audience and to get to know the ways in which I can write to this audience, I'm going to sit down and I'm gonna draw a triple venn. And I'm going to have the triple then split up so that one circle is for the parents, one is for the teachers and one is for the administrators. And I'm just going to brain dump all of the ways in which these audience members are unique or overlap. And in doing it in this visual then format, I can actually see where those overlaps are. So that when I'm creating content for offers, if it's an offer that speaks to just the teachers, I can look at what is unique of about the teachers. If it's an offer that speaks to both teachers and administrators, I can look at that overlap and use that to help guide my writing. Similarly, if it's an overlap of all three, I can look at the center of that triple venn diagram and say, okay, these are the things all three audience members have in common. So I wanna keep this in mind when I'm creating the content around the offer that is supposed to tie into all three of these different audience members.
This helps then for you to take the next step, which is to understand which offers, programs fit which subsets, or which combination of subsets, and in what way, this is where there's a little additional nuance, right? Because on one hand you could have one offer that fits right in the middle of the venn diagram. It's fitting every single audience member, an audience subset, and more or less the same way, or you could have an offer that appeals to different subsets for different reasons. And so this is where it's helpful to make sure that you have a really in depth understanding of what the offers are, how they solve the audience's problems, and how they solve the problem of each audience subset. Because even if it's the same offer, you may need to tweak the writing a little bit for each audience subset.
Conversations with your client are going to be super useful here. You wanna make sure that they understand their subsets and that the offers actually align with what, what those audience subsets need, and that your client is not falling into the trap of trying to appeal to everyone. This may be an opportunity for you to put on your content strategy hat and give a little direction if it does feel like they are trying to appease too many people at once, so that they can narrow their focus and just focus on maybe one subset at a time. Focus on one crossover of the venn diagram at a time.
Another thing that you can do to help keep things flexible is rely on conditional formatting when offering the same offer to different subsets. So let's say that you have an offer for a tutoring service, continuing to use the education example. And this tutoring service is going to be really helpful for teachers because it's going to give students the time to build on and expand and enrich the materials that they're already learning in the classroom while taking some of the pressure off the teachers. For the parents, it's also really helpful, but these parents may be particularly concerned with making sure that their students don't, or their children rather, don't encounter any learning loss or fall behind. And so while for the teachers, the major benefit might be that the students get to have enrichment activities, for the parents it may be avoiding learning loss. Subtle difference, may require slightly different copy. And if you are, let's say creating an email campaign, you can set your email so that there's a slightly different message going to slightly different audiences. This does involve a little bit of tagging, a little bit of tech expertise. So if you're not familiar with conditional formatting, if you not familiar with tagging and email systems, I definitely recommend looking into that a little bit because that's where you can find that sweet spot of combining templates with customization and adaptability and flexibility.
And then finally stay flexible. Keep talking to your client and keep talking to their audience members if you have access to them. Listen to feedback, listen to the responses, look at the data that you get from what you're writing. And revisit those venn diagrams periodically to see how things may have shifted and changed. Once you have data behind what you've written, it may be co parent that your client is casting their net too wide, or may become aparent that one of the audience subsets is actually a lot more engaged than another audience subset, and that could direct content strategy. So keep your finger on the pulse of what's happening with the content you create and making sure that the content is speaking to the specific subset of the audience that you want to be talking to for that specific offer.
All right. So with all of that in mind, your homework from this episode is to choose one of your clients, or even use yourself and your own business as an example, and create a venn diagram for your audience subsets or your client's audience subsets. So sit down, draw the circles out. It could be a regular venn diagram, it might even be a triple venn diagram. I wouldn't advise getting any more complex than that. Three audience subsets is usually a pretty good number, any more than that and you really are casting a wide net. So sit down, look at your own audience subsets, create the venn diagram, see where their wants and needs and desires and fears cross over, and where they're separate and unique. And do the same for one of your clients. See if that helps you think about how to navigate creating content that's flexible and adaptable, and that is tied to a specific offer in a way that speaks to that specific audience subset.

Marie:
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Copywriter Collaborative Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com/podcast, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on your favorite podcast app and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy copywriting.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 

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