If words are meant to be spoken, then messages are meant to serve a purpose. Recently, my husband and I were out together for some appointments and we wandered into a store to poke around. We went to leave through the door we entered. “Do not enter,” I read the sign aloud. My husband stopped in his tracks and turned to the other door about 3 feet away to his right. “Please use other door,” I read aloud the homemade sign on lined paper stuck to the glass. We both stopped and chuckled out loud. The sales clerk was not amused.

While this story was funny at the time, it got me thinking. How many messages do we put up without giving thought to our audience? In Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign, I pointed out that the messages you create need to be relevant and directed to your audience. Both these signs were relevant and clear: we got the message that both doors should not be used to exit the store. However, what the store failed to do was to put itself in its customers’ shoes. With only two doors available, and both prohibited for exiting, what were we supposed to do?

Identifying with your audience
When an organization, company, or individual creates messaging, it must be relevant, clear, and real to the user. By real, I mean that the message should be considering what the target audience wants to hear, rather than what the organization wants the target audience to hear. Here’s where professional writers and editors come in.

Put yourself in your audience's shoes

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes

For example, let’s say you’re telling your audience that having the latest app from your company, Yodel, will make their lives easier. (I’m just making this up.) Ya right. They’ve heard that before. Your app is directed toward parents and allows them to access the brands of diapers, baby food, regular food, and other household items and identify them upon purchase. When their items start to run low, they get an alert stating that they only have an estimated 4 cups of milk left before they run out, or that they only have an estimated 8 more diapers left. Users also get alerts when these items are going on sale at the user’s grocery stores of choice, helping them save money. Instead of saying that it’ll save them time and money, a better way might be to present a case study of a real life person your audience can identify with: a busy working mother or father of a couple children and perhaps a pet. Walk your audience through a typical day in the life of this family and show how on the way home from work, Mom gets an alert that she will need more orange juice, milk, and diapers (which happen to be on sale), and their brand of dog kibble at grocery store X. Mom is able to stop at the store on her way home and pick up the items, saving supper (even for the dog), bedtime, and breakfast for the whole family, all before she picked up the kids from daycare! In addition, she’s saved $3 on a pack of diapers. Perhaps instead of a written case study your audience would best respond to the message in video format. Now your audience can identify with the users of the app and see first-hand that it can be helpful in their own lives.

Identifying with your target audience and being real in their lives is what will put your product above the competition. It’s showing what this product or service can do for your target audience in a very tangible way.

[pullquote]Consider what your target audience wants to hear rather than what you want them to hear.[/pullquote]

Getting your messages to the right people
Now you need to go one step further and get the message in your audience’s face. Sometimes, you simply need to go where your people are. A writer can help you determine where your audience hangs out, so to speak, and help you to best disseminate the information. Perhaps the majority of your audience is active on a certain type of social media, so a targeted social media campaign is needed. Maybe the majority of your audience all read a certain blog. A writer can draft messaging to highlight your item or video in a blog post. Now you’re identifying with your audience, showing them what they want to hear instead of telling them what you want to say, and you’re meeting them where they’re at.

The example above could have easily involved products, real estate services, membership associations, or not-for-profit/charitable organizations. No matter what your business, your messaging and the type of language used needs to show that you identify with your audience so that they know that you believe they matter. And that’s what we all want: to feel like we matter.

What door did we choose to exit the store? We chose door number one. And no, we didn’t purchase anything.

HH Communication Services offers writing, editing, and consultation communication services to help your business get ahead. We strive to be real to your audience, make the message clear to your audience, and make sure your message gets to your audience. For more information on how we can help you, contact us today!