Content marketing mistakes: Not specifying the audience

Originally posted on the ReferralCandy Blog.

Mistake #1: Not specifying the reader. (When you write ‘for everybody’, you write for nobody.)


Imagine an article titled “This Article Is All About -your name here-“. Wouldn’t you read it?

This might seem slightly counter-intuitive, but the more specific you get, the better. Here are some ideas to help you get more specific about your readers:

Write open letters to specific people.

In a funny, twisted way, people are more interested in reading what you have to say to one person than in what you have to say to everyone. We like to be spoken to directly, and we like secrets. Do a Google search for “open letter” and be amazed.

Write for the smartest, busiest version of your ideal customer.

Challenge yourself to write powerfully and succinctly. Write up, not down. If you write for the smartest reader you can imagine, you’ll never have to feel embarrassed about your work.

Start with Why.

Remember, the default, equilibrium setting for everybody is inaction. If you don’t grab somebody’s attention by appealing to something that matters to them, they won’t read it.

Dig into the gory details.

Having a specific person in mind when you write allows you to dig deeper into the flesh and guts of whatever you’re writing about, which always makes things more interesting.

Get to know your readers in person.



An example of a persona sheet you might use. Source:

Buy them a beer and pick their brains. Find out what makes them tick, and what they want. You’ll save yourself a lot of trial-and-error.

Further reading: Here’s a great example of a quality persona by Ian Lurie from Portent. I’ve also enjoyed the following blogposts he’s written about the subject:

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