We know that one of the most important words we can use in blogging is you, so our copy should be squarely focused on the reader. And we also know we need to identify just who exactly our prospective readers actually are.
Wouldn’t it be a shame to go through all of that and end up not speaking to those people after all? It sounds crazy, but speaking to the wrong “you” is a common problem throughout business communications, and blogging makes it an incredibly easy mistake to make.
The Danger of the Wrong “You”
Even when people know exactly who they are supposed to be speaking to, they often fail to tailor the message to match the audience. A great example comes from the book Presenting to Win by presentation coach Jerry Weissman.
Weissman tells the story of working with Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, just before the company IPO. Hastings’ road show presentation outlined all the great benefits of subscribing to Netflix, which was all fine and good, except that a road show is designed to sell investors, not subscribers.
Weissman reoriented the presentation to focus on the benefits of investing in Netflix, such as how large the market opportunity was, rather than the benefits of the service itself. The Netflix IPO in 2002 ended up a smashing success.
Having the Wrong Conversation
Blogging provides all too many opportunities to get off track with your own audience. The problem arises by chasing the conversation with other bloggers. While it’s essential to get involved in cross-blog dialogue in order to gain links and mindshare in your niche, you need to make sure you tie it all back into the needs of your prospects.
When the conversation is not one that is of interest to your actual readers, however, you’ve got a problem. Here are a few of examples.
- Do the prospective customers of a Realtor want to read endless debate about Zillow and other threats to the traditional role of the real estate agent, or do they want actionable tips on buying and selling a home?
- Does a small business person care about you hashing out the vagaries of the social media press release with your industry colleagues, or might they benefit more from a few practical publicity tips that demonstrate that you are a savvy and confident PR practitioner?
- Does the average car accident victim care about the novel procedural ruling that just came out of the Federal District Court, or do they care about information that demonstrates that you’re an attorney who will take care of them and fight the insurance company?
All three of the above are examples of bloggers talking shop. It’s all too easy to get caught up trying to look good in front of your peers, which leads you to drop the ball with the people who matter most—your prospective clients and customers.
Have the best of both worlds. Engage in blog conversation, but never miss the opportunity to clearly explain (without jargon) to your readers why it matters to them. If you can’t find a compelling reason why it actually does matter, maybe you need to find another conversation.
Every post is an opportunity to demonstrate why you’re the solution to the needs of a prospect. Don’t squander that opportunity by leaving your target audience out. They’ll happily wander away and listen to someone more interesting to them given half a chance.