Guy Fieri is a famous chef who just got blasted by a New York Times restaurant review. And from reading the review, it sounded as if Chef Fieri created dishes that were just a wee bit out of context. Well, in a restaurant, creating recipes that are out of context is when you go so far with your recipes that diners are left wondering why in the hell you’ve covered foie gras with Milk Duds. The two have nothing in common. One doesn’t compliment the other. Just as Guy Fieri learned that creating recipes out of context doesn’t work; in your blog, if you are writing out of context, your readers won’t know what you are talking about.
What is “writing out of context?”
At a recent social media conference, a speaker gave this example:
“I was watching Drew Carey’s Improv-a-Ganza show with some older friends. In the show, Drew has actors act out improv skits based on the topic he presents to them. In acting out one of the skits, one actor kept referencing ‘Milk Duds’. My friends were all laughing as the skit unfolded.
Now, to ground you in what I’m about to say, you should know these facts about me. I am 25 years old, I have an undergraduate degree from Stanford, I have a graduate degree from Georgia Tech, I am married, and I have my own successful design consultancy. My point? In my entire life, I have never, not once, heard the term ‘Milk Duds’.”
No idea what you are talking about
Think about that for a second! He had never hear the term ‘Milk Duds.’ He had no idea what Milk Duds were, and thus he had no idea what was so funny. The whole thing was out of context. You’ve probably heard of Milk Duds, those awesome marble-sized balls of chocolaty goodness. So to you, a comedy routine that incorporated Milk Duds would make perfect sense. You’ve come from a background where you know and love Milk Duds. They are part of the context that you understand.
You had better not answer ‘Yes’ to this question
If you were writing about Milk Duds in a blog article, would your audience know what they were? The speaker at the conference was a highly intelligent, highly educated guy, yet he didn’t know what Milk Duds were. Does that make him a nimbleweed because he doesnt know something so ingrained in your knowledge? If you answer yes to that question, you may not know your target audience. Do you know who your target audience really is? Do you know what their problems are? And if you don’t, how is it that you are writing to them? You can fix this by getting to know your target audience.
How do you get to know your target audience?
Beth Hayden of Copyblogger offers this advice:
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- Do market research so you can know what problems your audience has
Solving their problems is the #1 reason they will buy from you. What keywords are they searching on? What are they saying on social media? What questions are they asking on your blog or your competitors blogs? What’s the airspeed velocity of the unladen swallow? (that was probably out of context for you, sorry)
- Join the community you are trying to serve
Take part in discussions and conversations via social networking sites, blogs, forums and other online groups.
- Research your audience’s mindset
The first thing you need to study is your audience’s mindset — the way they look at the world. What’s important to them? What types of people do they admire? What are their values? Once you have this information, sit down and write down everything you know that describes this person.
- Write to that person
Now that you know your target, write as if you were talking directly to them, one on one. Solve their problems, and they’ll keep coming back to you.
In the comments tell us what audience you are trying to serve
We’ll reply (along with other readers) about ways to help you understand customers in that industry or demographic. Who do you think your readers are? What problems are they trying to get solved?
Suggested: Why 1700 CEOs are Wrong about Social Media
Image credit: ProComKelly