Yesterday I talked about some of the problems we run into when we use our writing for content marketing. We write in insider jargon, or for other experts, or in abstract language. We forget out perspective is no longer the same as the perspective of the people most likely to be interested in our instructional, educational or entertaining content.
And we looked at the practice of creating an avatar, a figure that represents something or someone else. But it’s when you combine these ideas you can see how powerful this exercise is.
Cure for Lost Perspective and Bloated Copy, Too
Okay, so how does it work? Here’s the idea:
Think of a typical reader who might benefit from your book or your service, the person you know from experience represents a significant portion of your sales.
Try to focus on a specific individual. Get a good picture of them in your mind. Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:
- What gender is your avatar?
- How old?
- Is he/she married? Have kids? How many?
- What kind of car does he/she drive?
- Why would that person be interested in what’s in your book? What do they hope your content will do for them?
You can keep going with this list, filling in details about your avatar, getting to know her better and better.
You can even find a photo that represents your avatar to you, that’s really helpful.
Marketing to Your Avatar
Here’s how the avatar you’ve created can help with your content marketing.
When we write articles, emails to a list, newsletters or other promotional copy, we need to connect. Abstract language, expert knowledge and big sky concepts will not help us connect to our readers.
What will help is remembering that no matter how many people are reading our copy, each one of those readers is a single person having their own, individual and internal experience.
When we remember that, when we focus on the person we’re writing for, the connection is much easier to make. We can write as if we’re talking to a friend, explaining something they want to understand. It’s simple and real.
Keep that picture of your avatar in front of you when you write. Write your copy directly to that person, and that person alone. Of course you’ve got lots of other types of customers, but here’s what you’ll get from this exercise:
- Your copy will be more direct and personal. You wouldn’t sound like a corporate spokesman if you were writing to a person who asked you a question, would you?
- Your message will stand a better chance of connecting with the person reading it.
- You’ll enjoy your writing more. After all, now you’re talking directly to your prospect, one to one.
Here’s One of My Sample Avatars
I’ve been doing this practice for a while. In fact, it’s very similar to some of the exercises I’ve done in developing characters for fiction. Here’s one of the avatars I made up a few months ago when I was working on copy for A Self-Publisher’s Companion:
Sally is 29 and married. She worked after college, but now she’s happy to be able to stay home with her young children. She and her family live in a 3-bedroom home they rent in the East Bay.
Sally has spent years cooking and baking. All her friends ask for her recipes, and the dishes she brings to the pot luck dinners down at school are always the first to go. People ask her advice on their cooking challenges and always tell her that she explains things so simply they have no trouble following her directions. Sally has decided to take what she knows and publish a cookbook and kitchen guide.
Sally wants to know how to go about getting her book in print. She’s never done anything like this before, but she loves working on her computer and isn’t bothered by learning new things.
However, she doesn’t have a lot of money to put into the project and she doesn’t have much time between taking care of her kids Caleb and Clarissa. Not only that, her husband Stan has recently had his hours cut back and, if she could bring in some extra income, it would definitely help the family budget.
I think you can get the idea. I have pages I’ve written about Sally, and here’s the photo I use to represent her.
This profile of Sally comes directly from the many self-publishers I’ve worked with over the years. I have four other fully-developed avatars I use when I’m thinking about new projects or writing copy. I write directly to Sally and the others: they are the ones I want to really get what I’m saying, to understand that with a little education and the right orientation to things they can find a way through the self-publishing world to get the book they want.
Sally and her peers represent you, the people I most want to help with my content, with the books, reports, training products I’m creating for you. It’s Sally and the others who keep me focused on what you need, not what I’m interested in. And it was Sally and her brethren who guided me when I selected and arranged the articles in A Self-Publisher’s Companion.
You see, I wanted to make sure I was giving people who are thinking about getting into publishing information that will help them make the many decisions that will be needed to get their book into print. To let them know the kinds of activities they would be involved in as self-publishers. And to orient them to this incredible and fast-changing new world of indie publishing.
Have you read it yet?
A Self-Publisher’s Companion: more info
Paperback from Amazon
Paperback from Barnes & Noble
Kindle e-book from Amazon
“Sally” photo by Helmut Gevert via Stock.xchng. Avatar image by Destiny 2L via Flickr.com