Audience: Why They Need to Be Defined

Recently we got an e-mail about the family Christmas celebration. Instead of drawing names and exchanging gifts, our regular practice, we are playing “rob your neighbor.”  “Each participant should bring a $20 gift that will appeal to anyone in the family.”  Following those instructions, we would each have to wrap a twenty dollar bill.

Sound cynical? Think about it.  There will be about 15 people participating.  This includes:

2 college students

2 retirees

2 athletes

2 engineers

3 history buffs

3 wood workers

1 artist

Several foodies only one of whom likes spice

Trying to appeal to everyone in such a diverse group risks appealing to no one because it is simply too generic and bland. This is why editors tell you to know your audience.  Try to write something that appeals to everyone and, again, you run the risk that it will appeal to no one.  It sounds cynical, but think about it.

My son is an engineering students who games and hunts.  He is Christian and politically a centrist.  He works as a lifeguard.  He loves military history, the Wild West and anything frontier.  Does he want to read it?  Oh, no.  But he loves good museums, historic sites and movies.

My mother-in-law is retired.  Gaming?  No.  Hunting?  NO.  Christian.  Yes.  Politically left.  She would rather not do anything physical although she likes to watch college basketball.  My son doesn’t even like to watch swimming.  She loves classical music which my son might recognize if it was used in a movie.  She likes history as in the Colonies, British and all things posh.  She is an avid reader.

Do you see much overlap?  They adore each other but the answer is no.  Even when the topic is something they both enjoy, as in history, they want to experience it in very different ways.

Know who your audience is.  Know what they want.  Then you can set about creating something that appeals to them.




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