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.


In the final post of the wonderful trip to Galapagos and Peru, I want to share some of the majesty that the islands offer. Ecuador does a great job of preserving the life on the islands, even after decades of human intrusion. In fact on some of the islands the pirates introduced animals such as goats and donkeys. These animals wreaked havoc on the creatures endemic to the islands. Eventually many of those goats and donkeys were exterminated or removed to protect the local life.

Some of what makes this place magnificent is the nature left to act in their natural habitat. You can see the various species making and having babies, protecting their eggs from predators, protecting territories, and catching their next meals. We saw a bird fighting off a frigate on his back who was trying to steal the eggs underneath in his nest. Nature can be brutal to their own as well. We saw Boobies warming their two eggs and were told that once one egg hatches they get rid of the next one. No spare after the heir with Boobie birds.

On one beach walk, we came across the saddest part of the trip—nature again playing Darwin’s survival of the fittest game. A cute baby sea lion was obviously very hungry as he walked around and then rested due to weakness from lack of sustenance. We could see his rib cage—a sign he hadn’t eaten in a while. His mommy may have been hurt or gone. This little guy was pleading with and slowly chasing another adult female to try to get some milk. Unfortunately they don’t do adoptions in the sea lion world so the female kept moving away from the baby. She was saving her resources for her own young.  I prayed his mommy would show up soon. 

In brighter news, the snorkeling was fantastic, and the most fun part was the sea lions swimming around you and playing. There were also marine iguanas eating the algae on the rocks under the water as well as huge turtles. The turtles were slow unless a boat or a person were coming on them and then they could scoot away. It was a bit startling at times though to turn around and see one right in front of you. After seeing some beautiful fish, we got back to the boat with white fingers from the cold water, to soak in the hot tub for a bit before our nightly happy hour.

Taking a walk along the shoreline on one island, we saw a number of frigates—the males trying to attract the females by enlarging the pouch under their chin. When “inflated” it looked like a red heart. When the ladies flew overhead, they would make a lot of noise, show their pouches, and spread their wings wide—look at me dahlin!

We also saw more sea lions and were told by the guide that sometimes you’ll see a beach boss—one guy who “owned” that beach for him and his women. If there were lots of ladies, he would be higher up on the hierarchy. On another island we saw a number of the colorful land iguanas. They moved slowly and the males seemed more colorful. At one point, two males were competing for a female’s attention.

The swimming and hiking wiped me out. Thankfully we took afternoon rides on zodiacs and saw many wonderful animals and geographical sites. On one island, we saw lots of Galapagos penguins swimming around. The ones we saw getting in and out of the water were pretty cute. It was fascinating to see penguins outside of a zoo and not in the freezing Antarctic.

Back on the boat, we had fun seeing birds that would catch rides between islands. And at one point a sea lion jumped on our stairs to catch a ride but was blocked by crew standing near the entrance. The crew couldn’t touch the sea lion but maybe their presence hindered his objective of a free ride. Later he jumped on a zodiac that was parked along the side of the boat.

Our happy hour was on the deck that night as we had a final crossing the equator party. It was beautiful with the sun setting and was our seventh crossing (six on the boat, one by plane and we had one more to go to get home). They gave us certificates with new names given to us by King Neptune—mine was Sergeant Major.

Our final tour of the trip was on land to a special tortoise sanctuary. There were some seriously big boys there. They were all over—lots of them in the mud pits. We got pretty close to a few of them. And a few people in our group climbed into big shells they had at the center to see how it feels to wear one. A bus trip through lovely scenery took us back to a dock and then on to a tiny airport for our flight back to the mainland.

A final night in Ecuador with a lovely goodbye dinner was festive. We had an amazing group—really one of the most fun we’ve ever had with Tauck. I highly recommend a trip to these two countries—Peru and Ecuador. The people were nice and interesting, the scenery was breathtaking, and the history was rich and filled with a mixture of religions and cultures. It once again grew our hearts and our compassion for our earth and the animals and people in it.

We had a few hours of sleep and a cold shower before taking a nice trip back to the states. It was exhausting but once again, mom, dad, and I had an amazing family experience. We are currently throwing darts at the map to see where we land next! Until then, buenas noches!

The sea lion trying to board without a ticket.

Kids in Peru singing a drinking song to make money off of tourists.

Sea lions hanging out on someone’s panga.

I was super excited to visit the Galapagos Islands. I felt almost rewarded after the experience of having to go through my evolution class in college and reading The Evolution of the Species by Charles Darwin. Now, before I lose you reader, please know I will not reproduce the entire excruciating details of that said publication and will mostly be talking as a tourist having fun in a magnificent environment with beautiful animals and birds.

Beach time at San Cristobal.

When we arrived at San Cristobel island we were immediately delighted at the sight of sea lions making themselves at home basically anywhere; on the steps and the platforms to the boats, on the streets, on boats (if you leave it too close and too long near the land), etc. Our guides told us you can’t touch the animals here so some of them get used to that and feel free and comfortable. Sometimes that means you have to leave them be as they take up space on the boat you are riding on at the moment.

The crazy stairs we climbed on Genovese.

Our cruise ship was very comfortable and had 22 guest rooms. My parents and I got the rooms in the stern and there was plenty of room. An early wake up found us in the northern hemisphere anchored in the Great Darwin Bay at the island of Genovese where we took a 1.5 mile walk across some hard terrain of lava rocks. Here we saw a lot of red footed and Nazca boobies. Lots of other species of birds were nesting everywhere. There were frigates, hawks, swallow-tail gulls, mockingbirds and finches. The Prince Philip Stairs where we caught our zodiac was a scary 90 ft decent and not for the clumsy types.

Playing with the seals.

In the afternoon we took a short beach walk on the other side and then went for a snorkel. It was a very busy and physical itinerary. The snorkeling gave us views of colorful fish, barnacles, and a very rare eel. The most fun thing I liked on these snorkels were the sea lions. They would swim around you and play, coming up close to you then spinning away at the last second.

Marine iguana getting warm.

Our next stop, back down in the southern hemisphere, was to Santiago, an old pirate stop. We started off up some rocky stairs avoiding the baby sea lion and his mama on the rocks and took a long stroll through the paths in the island seeing a ton of lizards and birds. And also along the shoreline where the sea lions would climb up (how I’m not sure) into cozy spots to sleep. We had to watch our step because the marine iguanas were everywhere. They look like prehistoric scary predators but in reality were algae-eating, slow moving, sun-soaking, and fascinating to observe. All of the animals would co-exist and sleep near each other including Sally Lightfoot crabs who had beautiful red markings. The terrain was very interesting and full of lava formations, low trees, and random rock formations.

Our days normally consisted of walks, rides in the pangas (zodiacs) along the coast lines, and swims. Next post covers some more back and forth across the equator and around the islands.

They look like killers but they just hang out in a “mess.”

Cool rock formations where pirates used to store their riches.

Can you spot the sea lion and guess how he got there?

Pelicans were everywhere and beautiful in flight.

Sally Lightfoot crabs crawled all over the rocks, other animals, etc. Black as babies, they get colorful as adults.

Lizards (or salamanders?) scurried across our path. The females had red heads and the males would do push ups to try to get their attention.

Red-footed booby bird.

The red-footed booby has a beautiful blue face.


Male frigate. His pouch is deflated–time to eat.

Tons of birds fly around on Genevosa.


This guy stands on one leg.

Sleeping in the sun on an abandoned boat, because we can.

A rare glimpse at an eel while snorkeling.

Our ship the Isabella II.

Swimming with my new friends.