Talking to me?
Published June 30, 2009 by Gillian Hunter
Words. They're probably the most important thing on your site. It's the one thing that will persuade people to stop and browse - or get away as quickly as they can. Writing for the web is different from any other medium. People read slower off a screen than a book - so you need to be able to interest them quickly. I've been writing for the web and digital media since 1994! We've learnt a few tricks along the way. Before you start writing, you need to get the basics right:
Who're you talking to? Don't try to be all things to all men. The most successful websites talk directly to an audience - a specific audience. The problem I found with websites in the early days is that we had this wonderful limitless platform - and would try to cram every bit of information into it. We've learnt! People don't hang around if the content's not relevant, and doesn't answer their needs.
What's in it for me? The only way you can answer their needs - is by really understanding who you're talking to. Getting to know your niche is the basis of all good marketing. So, you need to answer some fundamental questions:
Who specifically are we talking to?
What are they like?
What do they want to know?
What do they expect from you?
What aren't they interested in?
You don't know me from Adam! Do research! Yes, do desk research and buy reports - however nothing beats talking to people directly. Get to understand who the individuals are - what they are like, what their pains and challenges are, what they are looking for. It's about adding value. Showing people you do understand - and that you can help them ...
It's not about the money! Quite simply, the less you know about the person you're talking to - the less value you will add - and the less likely they'll spend time on your site. They'll go where they are understood, and loved and cared for. People don't want marketing mumbo-jumbo. That's why good content's important. Don't fall into the trap of creating content for content's sake - create it because it answers the needs of your audience.
Okay, I'm listening! You won't know everything about your audience when you start building your website. It's a learning process - and adapting your website to continue to meet audience needs. Once you know you audience - it will be easier to create content - believe me! Start you website by getting to know your audience - and everything else will fall into place. Well almost - but that's for another day.
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