Language… why does it matter?
It’s important to identify and define your target audience and their interests because it informs the language and tone of voice you use.
Once you find out who your target audience is and identify roughly what presses their buttons, you can create an appropriate tone to appeal directly to them, keying into their needs and desires.
Having said that, whoever you’re communicating with, whatever their role, interests, IQ, qualifications, industry or sector, gobbledegook and jargon are never a good idea. Plain English marketing communication is your holy grail.
You can use different tones of voice for different audiences, making your content flippant and light or serious and sensible, exciting or reassuring, paternal or equal. But whatever your tone, the language you use should always be plain.
Great marketing isn’t about showing off how clever, erudite or perceptive you are. It’s about communicating clearly and efficiently the things your target audience needs to know and wants to hear.
It’s always possible to express complex ideas in plain language. Take New Scientist magazine, whose journalists manage to put across ridiculously tricky hypotheses like quantum physics in language non-scientists can grasp.
There’s no need to go too far when creating a tone of voice for specific target markets, either. Just because some teens use text speak it doesn’t mean you should adopt the same style of communication in your youth market site content or marketing campaigns. At the other end of the scale, there’s no excuse for dense legalese or corporate bollocks-speak under any marketing or marcomms circumstance.
Identifying, analysing and defining your target audience also informs targeted keyword research and helps create an appropriate content strategy. But that’s another story.
Once you know who you’re talking to, it’s much easier to communicate in a way they’ll understand, appreciate and enjoy. Strike the right tone and you key directly into their emotions like an old friend. Get it wrong and it’s easy to alienate, baffle or annoy your audience.
(Cartoon by Kate)