Stuck on starting to create messaging for a new audience? Here are some tips…

Are you staring at your blank document wondering where to start? Asking yourself, what do I say to this audience I’m trying to attract/get to purchase/persuade to act? What words do I use to grab their attention, maintain their interest beyond the eight-second attention span (or less) they have, and make them want to cross the finish line and make the purchase or sign the petition?

I’ve been there. Sometimes my mind wanders to my laundry list of chores. And then sometimes the fingers just move fast and furious across the keys as I start that stream of consciousness to be molded and finessed later.

Regardless of where you are in your messaging attempts, you need to start with an understanding of your audience. And that takes research. Listening. Reading. Asking questions of said audience members and others who know their business well. Throughout my career I’ve worked in more than a dozen industry sectors, marketing products, services, and events to professionals in various fields of work. I’ve created comprehensive strategic plans for groups that represented those professions. And while many of my marketing and communications skills are transferable, I still had to learn each audience.

Here are some tips to help you move from a blank page to record-breaking engagement scores.

Persuasive writing

Step one:

Read the magazines, newsletters, websites, social media pages, and so on that these professionals read and visit. Talk to staff members from the professional associations and groups they are members of and ask them questions about what kind of work their members do. Find out what services they engage with the most. Be a fly on the wall during their conference calls. The point is, learn the language they use. Learn what is important to them—what concerns them day to day. The more you study your audience and what they do, the more you’ll be fluent in talking the talk.

Step two:

You’re starting to learn their language and their needs. Now, what kind of people are they as a group and what kind of tone will they better respond to? For example, creative types will respond to humor and abstract design better than say more senior level serious security practitioners. Sometimes you must test this to find out. In any case, you are talking to HUMAN BEINGS. And guess what? Humans make purchasing decisions based on emotions. They confirm their choices later with logic. What does that mean? Use words and images that will create an emotional response. Want to be great at this? Google neuroscience marketing (or neuromarketing) and study the principles of persuasion. For example, scarcity. This is somewhat common, and anyone living in America in the spring of 2020 will understand the toilet paper scare of our generation but think about it in terms of words and positioning in your emails to prospects.


Dear Dawn,

Because you are a loyal member of our organization, I’m extending you the opportunity to bring along one colleague to an exclusive event, just for conservation leaders such as yourself. There are only 100 seats open for the July Summit on Energy Conservation so sign up to today to secure your place. Once we have your registration, we’ll send you a unique code so your colleague can register for free.


neuromarketing brain and shoppingThere—you’ve created a sense of scarcity—there are only so many items/seats/opportunities available, so I better get it, or I’ll lose out. And if you caught it, the message also made Dawn feel super important and part of an exclusive group (which she is—because all your members and customers are special). An example of another principle of persuasion that I like—making your audience feel they are part of a like-minded group. The current 2020 spring lock down during the pandemic has people needing to feel a part of a community more than ever before—so it’s a good tactic if deployed in a genuine way.

And don’t skimp on the visuals. Humans pick up visual messages and clues at a much faster rate than words. Connect the graphics with the message. Use gifs and video to grab attention. Remember, human beings! Just because it’s a business message doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy looking at engaging visuals (and humor where appropriate).

Step three:a/b testing

Test, measure, adapt. Use A/B testing on your subject lines and content at the very least. Test time of day and day of week that’s best for your audience. Experts used to say never to send on weekends. Lo and behold, turns out Sunday is a great day to send emails! Each audience is different. It’s more important to benchmark against yourself and previous campaigns to understand the rhythm and response behavior of your audience. And make sure to target as much as possible. It’s not always possible to craft and send 13 separate messages, but if you have a multidisciplinary audience, you should be sending unique messages to the main audience groups for better response rates.

Step four:

Hone your skills. Keep writing, keep measuring and tracking, keep learning about your audience, and keep trying new tactics! Be creative.

One final note—this type of writing is persuasive marketing copy, not content marketing that leverages relevant content via subject matter experts. You must learn to adapt your style of writing to the strategy you are deploying. Social media posts will be crafted differently than emails as well. Learn best practices for each channel and medium and become a pro at increasing engagement across them all.


MarketingProfs—there are training tools, articles, and more to help you hone your writing skills.

Social media examiner has great articles on various topics including writing and neuroscience.