Want to Succeed as a Content Writer? Know Your Audience
Do you know the story about Art Silverman and the unhealthy bag of popcorn? If you based your whole content writing carrier on it, you wouldn’t be wrong.
The way Art Silverman presented how unhealthy movie popcorn is can be your content creation foundation. I read the story in Made to Stick, a great book explaining why some ideas fail while others thrive.
Anyway, Art Silverman was tasked with presenting the public a simple fact — a medium bag of movie popcorn contained 37 grams of saturated fat, while the daily recommended intake was 20 grams.
It was stupidly obvious the popcorn is unhealthy, the problem was that nobody cared much, what is 37 grams really? Everyone knows it's bad, but is it so unhealthy they should avoid it? How do you present such a problem in a way that everyone instantly realizes how unhealthy this product is?
So, he came up with a plan and at a press conference on September 27, 1992, the following message was presented:
A medium-sized “butter” popcorn at a typical neibourghood movie theater contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with all the trimmings — combined!
The message combined with the visual representation was instantly a success. It was featured on all major news channels and newspapers. Sales plunged, and soon after, the biggest theatre chains in the US declared they would stop using the culprit in fatty popcorn — coconut oil.
I love this story because it did the opposite of what most content writers try to do for their clients. The story had to stop people from buying a product they loved. It had to make people care about a number and a type of fat they probably never cared about. It had to be punchy, easy to understand, and easy to remember.
It was, and it spread like wildfire.
Write Content for Your Audience
The content you create is for a particular “who,” and no one else.
— Post on Coppyblogger by Brian Clark
The fatty popcorn story shows us it is crucial to know and understand your audience. But let me make a little detour that is equally important and will lead to securing this as the foundation of content writing.
Today, people scan information on the internet and very few actually read it. This is crucial information for content and copywriters because it means two things.
- You have to catch your reader’s attention early
- You have to give them exactly what they want.
I will get into the first point in another post, but the second point is strongly supporting our premise that for your content to get the traffic you expect, you have to give your readers what they are looking for.
And the only way to do that is to truly know and understand your audience.
In other words, specificity is your friend.
Let’s say you have a content writing business.
You are offering your clients a service that helps them rank better and increase sales. You do this by providing value to their readers with your content. The value builds trust, trust creates relationships, and relationships lead to sales.
So, how do you reach your clients? In the same way you would reach theirs. First, determine who they are. Are you looking to work with entrepreneurs? Tech companies? Financial advisers? Lawyers? Determine who is your client.
Then write content that helps them. Have them coming back to you because your blog, social media content, or videos help them solve their problems. Make their lives a little easier or more joyful and you will build trust. With enough trust, when they need help with creating content, they will turn to you.
So, we are back at the premise, writing for your audience, writing exactly what they want, is pivotal.
Be Creative and Turn Content Writing Into Storytelling
Every time I see someone with Nike shoes I go: “Just do it!”
Not out loud of course…
You might think creating such slogans and ideas is the job of marketing strategists. And maybe you are right. Maybe in such companies, content writers are hidden somewhere in some office and used only to write product descriptions and blog posts.
But, you are writing content for your clients.
My clients turn to me for content. They don’t have a marketing strategist, they don’t have the time to think about their next marketing idea.
They have me.
And here is the catch.
We, writers, are already creative. You are a writer because you can be creative, even if you don’t see it. Writing in its nature is a creative activity.
You don’t need to be a marketing expert to come up with a great content idea. Your clients hired you because they think you can improve their content and get them closer to their audience.
Well, do that. But creatively.
Think about what their audience needs to hear and then how to present it to them so they love it. If you are a content writer, you already understand marketing. You are not an expert, but you can use your understanding and creativity to make something your clients will love.
And if they love your content, they will love you.
If they love you, you will be successful.