Enticing Your Target Customer: Are You Missing the Mark?

Hit the mark with your online copywriting.

#1 copywriting secret: copy must be specific to its audience to work best.

It's a term that's used by virtually everyone involved with Internet marketing: target customer. You've heard it a million times.  You may even be able to define its meaning.  But, are you actually focusing on this target when you write copy, or are you missing the mark?

It's a common mistake in copywriting: one I see very often.  People want to push information at a group of readers instead of pulling a single target customer toward them through effective communication.  The difference?  One is all about you, and the other is all about them.

I've seen copy that completely ignored the site visitor.  It didn't make a single mention of the word "you" or "your."  It was all "we, we, we" and "our, our, our."  Considering that your target customer has all the money and they are the ones whose business you want to win, I'll bet you can figure out where the focus should lie.  It's time to stop "we-ing" all over the place.

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

Before you begin writing copy, take about 1,000 words and create a profile of your target customer. Jot down all the information you know about them.  Don't guess!  If you've never done any target audience research, now's the time to get started.  After all, how will you be able to write effective and enticing copy to someone you know nothing about?

Male or female?  What is their home life like?  How much money do they make?  Are they the end user, or are they buying on behalf of someone else (a business, an older parent)?  What challenges do they face that your products/services can help them overcome?  What dreams will your products/services help them fulfill?  What results will they see after they've used your products/services?

These are just a few of the dozens of questions you can ask about your target customer.  If you've never attempted to get this information, try using a Survey Monkey or some other online survey tool to collect details.

Does it Really Make a Difference?

Who would know whether you wrote copy to a group of people or to your particular target audience?  Can understanding who they are, where they're coming from and what they need really make a difference?  You be the judge.

For the sake of example, we'll pretend we're Realtors and our product is a beautiful one-story, brick house on a gorgeous corner lot.  As you know, Realtors have many different segments within the single homebuyer target audience.  We'll look at three: first-time homebuyers, growing families and retirees.

First-Time Homebuyers - Fresh out of college, these young couples probably have a ton of student-loan debt hanging over their heads.  Excited and anxious at the same time, they have no idea what to expect from all the paperwork and meetings that come when buying a home.  They'll need guidance.  With no kids and a very limited budget, price is a primary factor: they'll sacrifice space and amenities for a few dollars less on their mortgage payment.  After all, it's just their first home… they'll upgrade in a few years.

Growing Families - With student loans paid down (thanks to several promotions and pay raises) growing families are looking for more room.  They've got money to spend and priorities to fill.  With 2.4 children in tow, safety, good schools and short commute times rank high on their wish lists.  Experienced in the home-buying process, they are ready to show off the rewards of their hard work with a newer, bigger and better house.

Retirees - These folks are downsizing.  They've raised the kids, put them through college and gotten them out of the house.  As their life focus changes, they no longer want days filled with yard work and housecleaning.  They've got fun things to do in their retirement years.  On a fixed income, seniors still have some money to spend, but it doesn't flow as freely as when they were working.

Can you see the difference?  You wouldn't use the same language or highlight the same benefits within the copy when writing to growing families as you would when writing to retirees.  Yes, they are all shopping for houses.  Yes, we are selling the same one-story, brick house; but each buyer has their own needs, wants and criteria.  The copy has to be individually crafted to entice everyone on their level.

The same applies to your target audience and its individual segments.  Finding out as much as you can about them will help your copy strike a more personal and emotional chord while - at the same time - positioning your product or service as the perfect solution.

Join Lynn Terry and me on a special, free webinar Tuesday, January 19, 2010, at 12:00 noon Eastern Time where we'll discuss defining your target audience and more copywriting techniques.  I'm sure Lynn won't mind me telling you that I'll offer an exclusive discount code worth 20% off on all my copywriting books for those who attend.  Don't miss out!  Register now… it's FREE!

Reprinted by Permission. (c) Karon Thackston 2010, All Rights Reserved.



  1. I'm guilty of "we-ing" way too much, and this was a good reminder for me to consider who I'm targetting more when writing. I think this post did a great job with that house-buying example clarifying how to look at different groups or segments of possible buyers.

  2. Great article. It really makes sense what you are saying. I think I have been writing for myself without a target market in mind. This seems huge and very important.

  3. Great Article Karon!

    I really needed this, this morning. This will really help me with my blogging and focusing on my target audience. Sometimes it takes a little wake-up call to see things. Thanks again.

  4. Karon, great article and very clear. I'm off to write my target audience profiles and then re-read them before writing a blog post or email message.

  5. Lynn, Thank you for posting this. You always seem to know where to find the exact explanation of things to make it more easy to understand.

    Monna Ellithorpe @monnaellithorpe.com

  6. Great article, I wrote my 1000 words plus, and just started a Mind Map. The maps help me think, and focus better.

  7. Melissa Ingold says

    I agree. You have to know your target market if you expect to sell anything to them, otherwise you can wind up wasting a lot of time and energy. And when it comes to copy, that little shift from "me" to "you" can make a world of difference.

    Great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Thanks for the great feedback, everyone. I think this is the #1 mistake overall for copywriting. And the difference when you write with your target audience in mind vs. when you don't is just huge!

    Taking their pain, their challenges, their goals... everything about them in mind when creating copy that solves their problem rather than merely selling to them truly takes your writing up to a new level.

  9. Karon,

    Knowing who your target market is and what they need in copywriting is critical to success. I read so much that is just garbage. It is not written with the reader (and buyer) in mind. It needs to be a conversation that they are already having.

    Thanks. Samantha

  10. Elge Premeau says

    I am constantly asking clients to define and re-define exactly who their target markets are and an aspect of demographics that gets overlooked is the technographic profile. How do they use technology? How do they use the internet? I got this idea from Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff's book Groundswell. It's a must read for anyone trying to get customers online. Defining the technogrphic profile will help you figure out where you should be hanging out online.

  11. Thanks Lynn and Karon for this useful post. Am just starting to learn web copywriting and what I've just read reinforces what I've been learning lately.

    You clearly illustrated your point by showing the different ways one should communicate with various groups of home buyers.


  12. Yes, demographics, psychographics, geographics, technographics... every little graphic helps in addition to behavioral translation and targeting. No information is wasted info when it pertains to your target audience/customers.

  13. Gail J Richardson says

    Thanks Karon, I needed that wake up call. This has been a whole week of eye openers for me. Now if I can just stay focused and use them. My mind is full speed ahead at 90 miles an hour.Thanks for the great information that you give.

  14. Great post, Karon!

    I am really looking forward to the live webinar with you today 😀

  15. Me, too! Heading that way shortly.

  16. Sean Breslin says

    I agree with knowing your market and writing accordingly... My question is if a niche has a broad spectrum appeal/market like for instance website hosting. What is the best way to write then?

  17. If it has broad spectrum appeal, it's not a niche 🙂 A niche is a tiny segment of a market. The words "everybody" and "anybody" are my least favorite words when talking about target markets.

    Even in something like website hosting you wouldn't be marketing to "everybody who has a website." See that flashing banner down below us for HostGator? They are clearly marketing to people who want discount/low priced hosting. Pair.com - on the other hand - is after website owners that want top quality with attentive service and advanced features.

    Web hosting is like toothpaste. All toothpaste cleans your teeth, but they are not all marketed to "everybody who has a mouth." Some freshen breath or whiten teeth. Others fight plaque. Choose your niche (segment of the overall market) and target them.

    Contrary to popular belief, the more narrow the niche, the better off you'll be. Trying to reach and market your products/services to anybody and everybody is rarely a good idea. It's just too broad.

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