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Write For Your Customers, Not Your Peers

This guest post is by Laura Roeder of LKR Social Media Marketer.

Think about your last ten clients. Did they hire you because they have the same level of knowledge and experience that you do? Or did they choose to work with you because of your expertise?

My guess is that they fall into the second camp: your customers look up to you because you’re farther ahead than they are. They expect you to provide them with advice and guidance to help them move forward in life and business.

Knowing this, why are so many blogs speaking to their industry and not their customers? You’ve seen it, and you’ve probably been guilty of it—posts filled with jargon and industry news. Maybe it seems like the articles your customers need are too simple: that information’s basic, it’s been written about before, and therefore, it’s not valuable.

Too many businesses err on the side of writing what they find to be useful or valuable, not what their clients need to know most.

Let’s use an example from my business, LKR Social Media. Our customers are people who learning the ropes of using social media for their businesses.

Because social media is our world, we know all the jargon, all the nuances, all the basics. It would be easy to gloss over some of the simpler setup details in our tutorial-style posts because we could make an assumption that everyone already knows how to do them. But, based on who our customers are, we can’t make that assumption!

We make sure that we always break down each topic to its simplest steps, making it easy for business owners at all levels to implement what we are teaching. We don’t assume that you already know how to set up a Facebook page, or mention someone on Twitter, or use RSS.

So, how do you ensure that you are writing for your customers, and not your peers?

1. Avoid jargon or technical terms

Use clear, concise language that everyone can understand. You do not need to use jargon or fancy terms to come across as an expert; simply blogging regularly and providing valuable information will accomplish that.

2. Break how-tos into action steps

Don’t assume that just because you know how to do something, everyone else does too. Break down instructions into simple action steps that someone just starting out on your topic can follow.

3. Write your posts for one person, not your entire audience

You might find it strange to think about singling one person out to write to in your posts. But the value in speaking to one person instead of a group is that usually, most people are sitting down, alone, to read your blog. There probably isn’t a huge group of your followers crowded around a laptop in a coffee shop all reading it together. For example, write “you” instead of “you guys.” The same goes for video blogs: speak to a single viewer, not to your entire audience.

If you find, after reading this, that much of your blog content was actually written for your peers (people at your level) versus your customers, that’s okay! It’s not too late to start. For your next blog post, keep these three pointers in mind to help you write content that will help your customers.

You’ll start to notice if this strategy is working by looking at a few key analytics:

  • how long people are staying on your site
  • how many articles they are clicking through to read in one sitting
  • whether you are getting more subscriptions to your email list
  • whether you are generating more sales.

Increased numbers in these areas are sure signs that you’re writing for the right crowd.

Laura Roeder, founder of LKR Social Media Marketer, is a social media marketing expert who teaches small businesses how to become welcome-known and claim their brand online. Follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

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Comments

  1. Shubham says:

    Absolutely right Laura and i agree with all the points especially 3rd one……using words like u makes the reader feel like u are talking and explaining to him :) thanks for these cool tips :)

  2. Chuck Kent says:

    Well put, and applicable far beyond blogging. One of the reasons traditional advertising continually careens closer to irrelevance is that the work – concepts, writing, art direction – forever has in mind what the industry will think of it, what awards it might win and “what it will do for my book.” In short, it’s all about writing for your peers (I know; I used to be a copywriter in the big agency world of New York and Chicago).
    Consequently, it makes me cringe to see the rise of award shows in content marketing; I hope they do not become so popular and important as to skew the focus away from customers and toward what would only be increasingly artificial peer approval.

  3. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Laura, Those are three powerful tips to write for audience, Writing a post for one person instead of entire audience is nice idea here.

  4. Synth Ninja says:

    Regarding the point on avoiding jargon or technical terms (wherever possible, at least): Doing that might actually make you seem MORE like an expert, since the people who tend to use technical terms the most are people who aren’t really experts but rather trying to portray themselves as such. Actual experts and leaders in their field tend to explain things in a way that a six year old could comprehend.

    • Laura Roeder says:

      Really interesting point Synth! I”ve actually found this to be true as well, if someone is throwing around a lot of jargon it can be a red flag that they don’t actually know what they’re talking about.

  5. Leigh says:

    Really interesting. Like you say everyone wants to know the information from you which is like you say why they come to you. Do you recommend including tips from other businesses or marketers that your clients might find useful? For instance tweets and likes on items you might not have covered.

    I guess some of what people do is to get exposure from their peers also which is why some tend to write on the same subjects.

  6. John C says:

    Hey Laura, great article. It’s always difficult to find a balance in the language used, since the level of expertise and awareness of an audience can vary greatly. Being consistent and acting as if you are speaking to one person with a given level of knowledge is a great tip.

  7. Ujjwal says:

    Very good article, I have learned few new things from this article.

  8. It’s an interesting point Laura.

    It seems that, for the purposes of this discussion, there are two different ways to approach blogging for the purposes of generating sales.

    1) Attract sales by creating content for your end users
    2) Attract sales by establishing yourself, your organization, your blog as a thought leader amongst your peers and getting referrals and other benefits from those peers.

    For example, during the days that SEO Moz was an SEO services company their blog was clearly intended to establish thought leadership amongst their peers. Today, blogs like Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert and Mark Schaefer’s Grow are written more towards their marketing peers than toward their end customer.

    I don’t know that either strategy is right or wrong. I do, however, think it is important to choose one or the other.

    • Laura Roeder says:

      I think that’s a great point Russ, and it really depends on your audience/customers. I believe that Jay Baer focuses more on enterprise consulting, and in that world I could see where industry recognition holds more weight.

  9. Kenny Fabre says:

    Laura

    keeping things as simple as possible is key when it comes to blogging,

  10. steve says:

    Nice post Laura, i was confused about this strategy, but all of the key futures you mention in the last paragraph show the way! Simple, smart and unique!

  11. You’re right Laura. Sometimes the most basic of blog posts give the best results because much of the audience aren’t pros of the industry.

  12. Shelby Roth says:

    These are interesting and helpful tips indeed! I really believe this is where our problem falls and we better rectify on the spot. Thanks a lot Laura, you have really saved me so far and I can’t wait to waste time but go for such an inspiring tips. Great stuff!

  13. You are right Laura; here is where most bloggers fail; Your strategy sounds really convincing and so inspiring indeed! We ought to keep things simple, great and extraordinary on our own ways! Your site is actually informative and educating, keep up the great job. I look forward into your next!

  14. I would reiterate on #3. I like it when I am being referred to personally. I like it when it’s me you are writing to because I rarely read with anyone. I am sure most readers feel the same way. That’s why we should always address our writes to an individual.

  15. Joshua says:

    Who will understand the content is full of technical terms. Most readers are average and will want to read something that they understand. Using the ‘You’ will make the client understand that you are addressing him unlike using the words ‘People, customers, we’ which are general. Great post!

  16. Michael says:

    Thanks Laura! Very helpful tips.

  17. Jen Walker says:

    Great post Laura! It is so true that our blogs should be written for those we are helping, not those who are know what we are writing about!

  18. Great point. I think I’ll do some instructional vids on how to open a brokerage investment account and select low-cost mutual funds in it!

  19. Scott Eklund says:

    Great actionable advice, especially the one about singling your audience out. I try to take this one step further and create personas that I write for – The soccer mom that’s always on the move, the health nut that wants to shave a few more seconds off his mile time, etc. injecting personality into my audience helps me visualize their wants and needs, which makes it easier for me to create more compelling content.

  20. Melissa Ng says:

    Great article. I know I’ve made this mistake in the beginning and I’m still watching myself now.

    Looking back, I was so busy devouring everything in my niche that the line between what I knew versus what I assumed everyone else knew began to blur.

    What I’ve learned: we need to take a step back and really remember to see from our reader’s POV.

    Simple and clear writing takes practice. Thank you for a great read :)

  21. liya says:

    My thoughts exactly! I have just launched my blog ( I am Children’s Photographer ) and instictively began writing with the typical client in mind – a new parent who’s just bought their first dslr camera to take pictures of the kids without a clue as to how to get the most out of it. Most photography blogs out there are geared toward someone like me, an expert in the field looking for advanced topics like lighting setups and photoshopping techniques, and while I do read those a lot, I am also not sending business the authors’ way.
    In my blog I chose to talk and cater to a typical beginner. Someone who has the desire to improve their photography skills, but who would quickly give up and move on if the text proves difficult to understand or if the tips involved are TOO involved. Here is an example of my most recent post http://www.dumplingsphotography.com/blog