One of the biggest mistakes I see in messaging is the assumption that people reading or watching will know what things do, how they work, or why they need them. Whether you are selling a product or putting together a public information campaign, it is vital to think about what your audience needs to know before they take action.
In this article, I’m going to run through some questions you need to ask yourself when you are communicating a service, product, event, or campaign.
Who is it for?
Who is going to use this? Your answer might be ‘everyone’ but nothing is for everyone. We all have different interests, opinions, ways of doing things. Even if what you are promoting is aimed at ‘everyone’, not everyone will like it, want it, or participate in it.
Accepting this enables you to focus on who you really want to reach. Then you can ask some more focused questions about who they are.
What are they struggling with?
What do they care about?
What will they see as essential?
How much prior knowledge do they have of this item, issue or event?
What questions might they ask?
What is it for?
What does your product or service do? What problem does it solve? If you are running a campaign then you need to get across what it is going to achieve.
While it might be obvious to you that what you are doing is useful and relevant, your audience might not see its immediate application. In particular, they might not see how it applies to them. How does mindset coaching benefit your clients? Why do they need branding? How can a mastermind group help you reach your goals faster?
Even if it is a standard item, like a planner, put it in context. Talk about what you would use it for. Show them they need it.
How does it work?
If you are asking someone to buy a product or service, or you want them to take action, they need to understand how it works. This can be as simple as telling someone the item is dishwasher and microwave safe.
It is likely there is a process involved. This might go something like this:
Discovery call – Proposal – Information gathering – Iteration – Collaboration
What can people expect, step by step? What are they getting? How long will it take? How much input do you need from them?
If it is an abstract concept then using an analogy can be helpful, for example, ‘just imagine’ or, ‘you know when…’ What is familiar to them? How can you use that to communicate this issue? Paint a picture of the future. What will their life be like if they have this item?
Who is looking at you right now? Over the past few weeks I’ve had clients approach me after seeing social media posts I wrote several
What does the terminology mean?
Sometimes people do not engage with what you are offering because they do not understand what it is or how it works, and they do not want / do not have an opportunity to ask you for clarification.
When I was a young newspaper reporter we were tasked with writing a high end magazine. Every topic was outside our personal experience (and salary). One of my tasks was to have a spa day. Looking back, it was fantastic, but I was incredibly nervous. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know how to dress. I didn’t know what the etiquette was. I didn’t know what a lot of the treatments were. I was terrified of embarrassing myself. I learned by doing (and now love going to spas) but many people are unwilling to do that. They want to know what they are getting in to.
Often we use terms where the meaning seems obvious to us because it is everyday language. Or, we go through a process or use a tool so often we don’t think about what is involved. But consider it from your audience’s point of view:
What is a ‘coach’?
What is the form for taking part in your event? Can anyone turn up?
Is there a dress code?
What does a local authority do?
How do you vote? (And does it really make a difference?)
When you are looking at your sales page, imagine you have written about particle physics. Every time you see something which could be related to particle physics, consider whether you need to translate it so that someone like you could understand it. (If you’re a particle physicist then imagine your terminology and processes relate to brain surgery.)
These explanations might not suit appearing on your sales page, but you can link to helpful content which tells people about the topic. Alternatively, have a frequently asked questions section at the bottom of the page for people who are searching for something you haven’t covered..
Who, what, why, where, when, how?
Is there anything else your buyer or participant needs to know? Key dates? Places? Why you are sharing this with them now? Related information?
Make a note of every detail, no matter how small and then you can look at what you need to include a) whenever you talk about this topic, or b) what needs to go in the material at each stage of a campaign.