We all know how important it is to connect with your ideal customer, your perfect client. Between market research, surveys, questionnaires, avatars and imaginary profiles, as business women we go to extraordinary lengths to ensure we know EVERYTHING about our ideal client. We know how old they are, the type of area they live in, the shops they like, the clothes they like, the magazines, books, and blogs they read. We have a perfectly drawn image of them in our minds and we know EVERYTHING must be channeled directly to them. But when it comes to writing copy, it can be tricky to find the words to attract, hook, and enthrall the real-world versions of the ideal client that lives in your mind. Here are ten simple tips to ensure you’re always writing for your ideal client!
Tip #1 Learn Their Language
Language is a powerful thing. It’s also a diverse and changeable thing. Speaking your clients’ language is the most important thing to nail when writing copy. I’m not referring to the general language they speak, like English, or French, I’m talking about the subtleties of language that are shared by particular groups.
For example, my ideal clients are exclusively female entrepreneurs and there are certain terms used in that particular niche, such as (ironically) ‘ideal client’, ‘list building’, ‘uplevel’, ‘upsell’, ‘resonate’, ‘abundance’, ‘zone of genius’, and a whole host of marketing and business terms that I wouldn’t necessarily use normally, even if I was discussing the same subject.
‘Resonate’, for example, is not a word I would ever, ever use to describe hearing something that really hit me deeply, that struck me to my core, that I could wholeheartedly relate to. To me, ‘resonate’ means ‘to be filled with a deep, full, reverberating sound‘ not ‘to be filled with a deep, full, reverberating emotion‘. I actually find the use of the word resonate very annoying in that context, because I’m an extremely literal person and I love wordology. Yet it is a commonly used term among female entrepreneurs that is widely understood to mean something has struck a chord with you. In order to ensure that you’re writing for your ideal clients, that you’re speaking their language, you must learn the words and terms that they collectively use and understand, even if you don’t like them!
Tip #2 Be True To You
While it’s important to speak your ideal clients’ language, it’s equally important to remain authentic in your writing. Write like yourself, not someone you think they would want to work with. Keeping up that level of pretense is not only dishonest, it won’t do you any favours. People are surprisingly savvy when it comes to things like this, if you’re putting on a show, they will know. So write like yourself.
If you’re partial to the occasional F Bomb, drop it.
If you like to call people ‘love’ or ‘hon’ or ‘sweetie darling’ do it.
If you’re a Northern lass (like me) retain your authentic dialect (even if it means explaining a phrase every now and then!).
If you’re a grammar Nazi and a real stickler for details embrace that. Likewise if you have a more relaxed, informal manner when it comes to grammar, embrace it.
Nobody will think any less of you because you prefer not to end sentences with prepositions, and nobody will judge you if you don’t really care that the correct form of who following a preposition is whom. If you’re at all unsure, ask yourself one question: Would I say this if I were speaking out loud? If the answer is a resounding ‘No!’, change it for something you would say. Read your words aloud if it helps, see if they feel right, or if they make you uncomfortable.
Not everyone will like you. That’s a fact of life. But the people who do like you will love you, because you are sharing yourself authentically and holding nothing back.
Tip #3 Be Professional Not Formal
There is a time and a place for formal writing and it is almost never on a blog. It’s a common misconception that ‘professional’ means ‘formal’. My clients frequently struggle to create blog posts that read like university essays or textbooks. The majority of the time there is no need for this level of formality, certainly not while blogging. If you’re writing a longer piece that is designed to inform on a high intellectual level, then formal writing is your friend, but the rest of the time it’s very off-putting to people – even people accustomed to reading formal language.
The question of how to write professional necessitates a blog post all of its own, but always remember that to write professionally you should keep things. You can write professionally and remain conversational, friendly, and authentic, you cannot do this in formal writing.
Tip #4 Don’t Underestimate Your Readers
Don’t dumb things down because you’re worried not everyone will get it. If you get the urge to dumb something down, resist it and instead offer a simple, succinct explanation for the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with the topic or term. Brackets, asides, and text boxes for fun facts, top tips, or definitions are all great ways of working in simple explanations without sounding patronising or oversimplifying.
Don’t dumb things down because you’re worried people won’t get it – offer a succinct explanation for those who don’t.
Tip #5 Never Forget The Burden Of Knowledge
Right up alongside underestimating readers is assuming they know as much about something as you do. If you’re blogging about a topic, chances are you know it well. You will have read about it yourself, have practical experience of it, or at the very least have developed and interest and started learning about it. The burden of knowledge is a particular state of mind we all get in occasionally when we know so much about something or are so familiar with a topic or problem that we assume everyone knows as much as we do.
We forget there was a time we didn’t know this stuff. It all seems so painfully obvious that it goes without saying. This is a sure fire way to lose readers because they have usually come to you to learn something. How many times have you read a blog post that tells you everything about a subject you’re already intimately familiar with? Why would you bother? You would only read that post if it covered something very new in your zone of genius, or offered a new perspective of something you were already very familiar with. You may have some readers who have this level of knowledge, but the likelihood is most of them won’t know as much about your subject as you do. Take the time to catch them up.
Tip #6 Pitch To All Levels
Closely tied to the last two tips, pitching to all levels ensures your writing always hits home for your ideal client no matter how much they already know about a subject. Your ideal clients will likely all be interested in the same subject or subjects, but they almost certainly won’t have the same level of knowledge about those subjects. Some will come to you as total noobs, others will already know a fair bit, and some will be long-standing clients you’ve been working with for a while, who have already learned quite a lot from you. Your posts cannot possibly appeal universally to all levels.
There will always be some people who have read what you’re writing about before – possibly even from you! – and there will always be some people who don’t even understand the basics yet and struggle to keep up. The secret is not to try and cram something for everyone in every post, but rather to pitch different posts to different levels. If you’re blogging regularly (and you should be) you will have ample time to cover the same topic in more than one post. Start off with a basic post on the topic, follow it up with one for the old hats, and round it off with a couple to bridge the gap.
Make it obvious who the posts are for – for example, Copywriting 101 is clearly an basic level post about copywriting. Use easily recognised phrases like 101, For Dummies, Basics, and Idiot’s Guide to clearly indicate a post is for noobs. I prefer 101 and basics as it feels less derogatory, but use whatever will appeal most to your ideal client. For high flying posts use terms like Pro Tips, Advanced Guide, and Extreme (as in ‘A Guide To Extreme Blogging’).
Tip #7 Reference Their Popular Culture
This one is a little like learning to speak their language. It’s very common to use examples or quotations in our writing, but bear in mind at all times that you’re writing for your ideal client. You need to use references they will understand. You need to quote people they will not only recognise, but will like and respect. For example, I’m a HUGE Sci-Fi and Fantasy buff, so much so that I’m actually an editor over on Sci-Fi Fantasy Network. Yet female entrepreneurs as a collective are not known for liking SFF. I’m certain there are some, just like me, who love the genres and would know exactly what I meant if I referenced Firefly, Labyrinth, Star Trek, or Lord of the Rings, but because I know my ideal client, I know what she likes to watch and read, and SFF is not up there at the top of the list!
It would be completely inappropriate – not to mention counterproductive – for me to use these kinds of references on a regular basis. Sure, you might know who the really famous characters are, like Captain Kirk, but would you know who Jareth is?
Would you care?
Would you think it an appropriate example in the context of a blog about writing to win business?
References and quotes are used to reinforce what you’re saying, to demonstrate that there are real-world examples of it, to back it up with facts, science, and research, or to lend more credence to your argument by showing that high profile individuals agree with you. As a female entrepreneur, you’re far more likely to take me seriously if I quote Marie Forleo, Seth Godin, and Brene Brown, than you are if I quote Elrond, Mal Reynolds, and Amy Pond!
Do a little research and find out who the leading experts are in your niche, and who your ideal clients’ favourite writers/speakers are. If you’re struggling, you can always fall back on the Classics (classic works of literature, history, science etc.), and universally recognised figures like celebrities, politicians, and well-known historical figures.
Tip #8 Stay Relevant
The key to a really good blog (unless you’re a Kit and Caboodle blog that cover anything and everything) is to focus on one topic that you are truly passionate about. You will need to know a lot about this topic, and you will need to love it. As you grow your tribe you will find that the people who gravitate to you and your blog are the people who share your passion, who want to learn more about your subject, who can’t get enough of whatever it is you’re talking about.
Which means you have to keep talking about it.
Yes, you might make the odd personal post about your new baby, or buying your dream house, or something else that you really want to share with your tribe – especially if it has affected your work in some way – but be careful. People have very short attention spans, and they like what they like.
If you religiously follow a blog about vegetarian cooking and one week there’s recipe for the perfect beef burger, you’re going to get a little pissed – you don’t want to know about beef burgers, you want to know about veggie burgers! You might forgive it one week, but if it’s more than a very occasional blip, you will quickly lose interest and look elsewhere.
Make sure you stay relevant. Don’t deviate too much from your chosen topic, and if you do, try to relate it back to your chosen topic – so rather than writing about how amazing babies are, write about your experience becoming a mother as a female entrepreneur, or having another child and juggling your home/work balance. Instead of writing about the awesomeness of your dream home, talk about what you had to achieve in your business in order to afford that dream house, or show off your new home office.
Tip #9 Tell Stories
This may seem counterintuitive given the previous tip, but stories are the most effective way to connect to your ideal clients. As long as they’re relevant, personal stories or instructional tales are a great way to demonstrate a point, illustrate a problem, or inspire and encourage your readers.
Tip #10 Like, Reply, Repeat
A huge mistake I see people making all the time is failing to respond when their readers engage with their content. If someone comments on your post – be it a blog post, Facebook post, video, or Tweet, take the time to hit LIKE. Then take the time to REPLY, and do so in a meaningful manner rather than a bog-standard response that you copy and past for every comment. If someone sends you an email or a message, REPLY.
The more traffic you get and the more followers and responses you get the less you will be able to do this for everyone, but initially, when comments are few, do it for everyone. Even when you have a large following make sure you respond directly to a reasonable proportion of comments, and always, ALWAYS reply to emails, even if it means hiring an assistant of VA to help you cope with the volume of mail. Your content should actively build relationships with your tribe, it should simply be read. Writing the post is only half the work, getting your readers to actively engage with it is the tricky part, so if you manage it, take FULL advantage of it!