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An audience with everybody

Know your audience – the first rule of marketing, and sometimes a toughie to stick to. Particularly at Haygarth, where a single day can turn up briefs meant for everyone from Gen Z to Baby Boomers, and it’s likely you’ll go from one to the other in swift succession. And that’s no bad thing – we’re lucky enough to work in an era and an industry (or at least an agency) progressive enough to encourage men to work on breast pumps and women on whiskey. But it does mean understanding your audience might not always come easily. After all, the further you are from your target, the harder it is to hit the mark.

And that’s where the challenge lies. Understanding an audience you have nothing in common with can be a bit of a minefield – especially as a copywriter, where it’s anybody’s guess if ‘YOLO’ is in or out, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of using regional words you thought everybody knew. The struggle is real. So how do we make sure we’re saying the right things to the right people, and stop our message from falling on deaf ears?

It’s a manner of speaking

While there’s no blanket approach to figuring out what makes who tick, there are a few tricks we use in the copy department to make navigating different audiences easier, and to turn what we’re trying to tell them into something they want to hear.

1. Pool resources
However clichéd, collaboration really is key to getting under the skin of your audience. Pick the big brains of the planning department, spend some time with the brand team that knows its client inside out or speak to someone that actually fits the profile you’re targeting – there are always those that are better-versed in an audience than you are, so it’s worth seeking them out.

2. Speak their mind, not yours
If you’re not part of the target audience, how you feel about the brand, product or service you’re working on doesn’t matter. Forget everything you know (or you think you know) about it, and try to see things through their eyes.

3. Don’t fake it
You can get away with ‘amazeballs’ as much as your mum can, so stop drawing on stereotypes and do some real research into your audience – from how they speak to what they’re talking about right now. What you find out might just surprise you.

4. Watch and learn
Study the way brands that are successfully engaging your audience talk to them. Are they communicating on their level or taking a more aspirational stance? Find out what behaviours are well received and decide whether or not they’ll work for your brand.

That’s four surefire ways to get inside your audience’s head, and hopefully keep your brand off their blacklist. But if you’re still not convinced you won’t be shunned by scornful teenagers or accidentally offend modern mums, here’s one last important lesson.

Act normal. Remember – you have hundreds of conversations with people from all walks of life every week, and (mostly) manage to keep your feet out of your mouth. So before you approach speaking to a particular audience, think about what you’d say to them face to face. It’s likely you’ll decide to keep ‘amazeballs’ out of it.

Written by Jess Turner