21 Jan

Target audience: nailed

Years ago, I was told by the tutor of my advertising course: ‘I’m going to hand you something, and I guarantee you’ll want to read it’.
He handed me an A4 sheet of paper covered – on one side – with writing. As soon as I started reading it, I realised it was about me (having my name mentioned was a bit of a giveaway).
What was written wasn’t just basic information though: it was a critique of my personality traits, my interests, how I worked with others, how I worked as a ‘creative’.
I was transfixed and read the whole thing, which was an incredibly accurate assessment of me as both a person and a copywriter/creative (even though I’d only been on the course two months at this point, and there were 20 other students to write about too).

The point was, I was the intended target audience and I wasn’t just reading the copy, I was completely engrossed. It wasn’t just aimed at me, broad-brush – it completely nailed me.

A while back something came up which reminded me of that exercise. I used to tutor primary school children in maths, weekends and some evenings. I still retained one pupil just over a year ago.
I went over to his house to go through his homework, which was on angles. Foolishly, I hadn’t really prepared, so just had his homework sheet and a protractor to work with (pretty bland: it hardly brought things to life).
He wanted to understand how to measure angles accurately, and make judgements too, but couldn’t engage with the subject.
I knew he liked building things and was interested in ‘making big buildings and bridges’ when he was older, so tried to relate angles to that: cue mildly bored stare.
Being bored, he’d started to act up a bit. Hearing this from the room next door, his mum shouted out: ‘I hope you’re behaving in there or you won’t be able to play snooker afterwards!’
‘Snooker?’ I said to him.
‘Yeah, I’ve got a little table in the kitchen’

An Idea struck me: ‘Can I see it?’

In the kitchen was one of those mini snooker tables that can be rested on a table top, or even played on the floor.
We took it into the room where we were having the lesson and put it down on the table.
We then played snooker with the following rules (starting with him breaking);

-Before he took a shot he had to measure the angle from the white to the ball he was aiming to hit.
-If he was aiming to knock a ball off the cushion (whether to pot it or position it elsewhere), he had to measure the angle at which the ball should hit the cushion for it to go in/end up where he wanted it.

If he potted a ball he got two more shots (kind of applying pool rules to snooker).
If he ‘couldn’t be bothered’ to measure an angle and his shot was poor, or he measured poorly, I got two extra shots.

Before long, he was checking angles on the protractor and reeling them off (fairly accurately…) as if it were second nature: more involved in the game and making sure he beat me.

I’d, effectively, spoken to my target audience in a way he could completely relate to: he was utterly engaged.

And so to present day. I have a new brief due to start in a couple of days. It covers an industry that I’m not overly familiar with, but already – through research – know a fair bit about.
I can already say who the target audience are and – to a degree – see how they think. Now all I have to do is speak to them in a way that immediately pulls them in, shakes them up, and doesn’t let go until they’ve absorbed everything they need to know about my client (and decided to purchase too, obviously!).
It’s hardly rocket-based science. It just takes a bit of digging, that’s all.

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