Why You Must Know Your Audience

Who are you writing for?

If you can’t answer that question, you may be in trouble. The reason that a lot of marketing copy, blog posts, and yes, especially technical manuals is ignored is because the author failed to adequately analyze their audience.


“Well, I just write for the general public,” you say.

If that’s your answer, frankly, you’re full of it. :) Of course, you’re not “just writing for the general public.” There’s really no such thing in the world of effective writing (unless writing is just a hobby for you or you’re writing only to please yourself).

Let’s take a look at what you’re writing and who your audience probably is.

  • Marketing copy. You’re writing for those who are prospective customers for your product or services.
  • Blogs. You’re writing for your readers.
  • Technical manuals. You’re writing for those who are using the product that the manual is for.
  • Fiction. You’re writing for those who read the type of story that you wrote.

The more you can learn about your audience, the more effective your writing will be.

Here are some questions that can help you learn more about your audience:

  • Demographics. How old are your readers? What is their educational background? Where are they from?
  • Knowledge. What does your reader already know? How familiar are they with your topic? Are there specialized terms they need to learn to be able to understand your writing?
  • Purpose. Why is the reader looking at your writing? Do they want to learn? Do they want to be entertained? Is there some other purpose?
  • Needs. Does you reader have a specific problem that your writing can help solve? Can you help them avoid potential problems?
  • Time. How much time will your reader spend on your writing? (If you are writing online, you can often assume the reader won’t be there long.)

Once you understand who your audience really is, you can tailor your writing tone, style, and voice to their specific needs. The more that you learn about your audience, the more effective your writing will be.

Also, remember that often your writing has a primary and a secondary audience. If there is a secondary audience, you will need to learn about them as well.

Can you think of something that you wrote that could have been more effective if you had learned more about your audience?

Comments

  1. says

    Although I am not a technical writer, I think your advice applies across the board for writing (I write fiction, narrative non-fiction, and occasional prescriptive non-fiction). Thanks for the great blog!

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