Get to Know the Person You are Writing For
Understanding your target demo(graphic)
There is an old idiom that may apply to this topic:
‘Preaching to the choir’ (also sometimes spelled quire) is of US origin. It clearly refers to the pointlessness of a preacher attempting to convert those who, by their presence in church, have already demonstrated their faith. The first reference we can find is from 1973. Many other references date from soon after that, which points to the phrase being coined in that year; for example, this from The Lima News, Ohio, January 1973:
“He said he felt like the minister who was preaching to the choir. That is, to the people who always come to church, but not the ones who need it most.”
The phrase may not be old but it does express the same idea as an earlier phrase – ‘preaching to the converted’, and is almost certainly a follow-on from that. This dates back around a century further and is first cited in the works of John Stuart Mill (see left). He used the phrase in, An Examination of Sir W. Hamilton’s Philosophy, 1867:
The point being, if you’re going to take the time to write a powerful & effective sermon, i.e…. speech, presentation, (here we go!) landing page, email copy, direct response letter, etc…. , you must get to know the person you are writing for. Crawl under his/her skin. Get inside their head and see for yourself what makes them tick.
When you are “preaching to the choir”, you know what they know and exactly what they are looking to hear. An good ‘ol country preacher, (Rev. Humbert) from Okay Oklahoma, would never stand in front of his congregation and tell them in his church announcements, “Tonight at 11 PM in the church rectory there will be a Texas Hold’em tournament put on by the Mission Committee. The elders remind everyone to bring next month’s rent and a bottle of your best moonshine to share.”
Now that the Reverend has caused all the ladies to pass out…and all the gentlemen to think about where they stashed their best hooch, he has completely missed his target. These people are on the straight & narrow and he is leading them astray. Now, if that was his intent, they he has done a damned nice job. But if he has salvation in mind … not so much.
If you are a dressmaker and you are selling dresses to Dillard’s Department Stores, you would be wise to know what the dress buyer has been seeing on the runways in Paris, or at least know if the hemlines are above or below the knee this year.
We at Words R Weapons want to help, you sell if you’re selling, teach if you’re teaching, or reach who you are reaching for. But the one single takeaway from this, is and alway will be, “Get to know the person you Are writing for.” Walk a mile in their shoes and give them what you think they really want or need.