What’s the golden rule of copywriting? Know thy target audience. Why? Because you can’t effectively write and/or persuade people that you know nothing about. In order to convince customers that you are the obvious choice to solve their problem, you have to know:
• Who they are
• What their problem is
• Why it’s a problem
• What they want done about it
• How much they can spend to solve it
• Their preferred communication style
• Who they are
• What they do
• Quirks, irritations and pet peeves
• And on it goes
That information won't be the same for every member of your target market. In essence, each segment of your target audience makes up its own little group. If you exclude references to that crowd in your copy, you may be sacrificing sales.
Let’s say you work for Apple computers. You want to write copy for the iPod Nano. Can you just imagine the target audience for that product? It’s huge! Not everybody within that target market is the same, however.
You’ll have teens that want a Nano for the music, business people that want to download podcasts to listen to, adults that want to use it when working out… the list goes on. To help you relate to your customers, you’d create a persona that fit each "category" of human being that might be interested in your product/service.
Categorize, Don’t Stereotype
Personas are based on fact, not assumptions. These are not stereotypical behaviors. They are comprised from surveys, emails and other actual contacts you have with your customers. Then, each category is made into the persona of a fictitious person. Give him/her a name and you’ll have an easier time remembering to include information suited just to them when you write.
Here’s a very good example from a post I wrote awhile back (http://www.marketingwords.com/blog/?p=435). As you can see, even narrowing your personas down to "federal agent who needs to buy a new personal computer" won't quite cut it. As the example shows, not all federal agents are created equal :)
With the iPod Nano, taking a quick look at the features page for this MP3 player (http://www.apple.com/ipodnano/features.html) lets you immediately see that Apple did its homework. They’ve included something for businesspeople, music lovers… practically everybody.
It All Boils Down to One Question
Basically, the people in various segments of your target audience want to know one thing: how is your product/service going to help me specifically? Not, how it will help all small business owners or how it will help small business owners with budgets over $1,000,000.
How will your product/service will help small business owners with budgets over $1,000,000 that are control freaks as well as techno-phobes. How will it help a second segment comprised of small business owners that are completely hands-off? Do you see the difference?
One persona wants you to do everything for them while the other insists on micromanaging. If you created copy that spoke exclusively to one you would alienate the other.
While you may not be able to identify every segment, you can most likely draft a persona or two. The more you know about the people within your target audience, the better you’ll be able to communicate with them through your copy.