Communications 101: The basics

Whether you’re asking for copywriting or editing services, there are a few things that I need to know to give you the best service. These are the foundations of communication – whether it’s written or verbal, whether it’s a published book or a youtube video, these are the things you need to identify to be effective.

I’ll do a detailed blog post on each in the future, but here is a basic overview. 

Audience

With the exception of a private journal, everything you write is intended for someone. It might be one person, it might be one million. But what do you know about them? What sort of language do they use? Where can you find them? What ideas might they already have about you that you need to take into account?

What is it about your audience that makes them attractive for you? Are they likely to buy your products? Share your information with friends? Join your cult?

Audiences are often divided into categories like primary and secondary. In simple terms, your primary audience is who your communication is really for. They’re the people you want to take action of some sort. In sales, this is your target market. Your secondary audience is a ‘for information’ or a ‘cc’ audience. You need to think about them, but they’re not your main focus. Sometimes you might have a tertiary audience, people who might read or listen to your communication, but they don’t need to know. 

Key messages

An old-fashioned brass key with cardboard label tied to it with twineNow that you know who you’re talking to, what do you need them to know about you, your product, your service, or your ideas? If they were to remember just two or three things from your communication, what would those things be?

A key message takes the form of a statement of fact, for example ‘XYZ company makes organic, non-toxic products’, or ‘Capital Letters can help me to find the words that work for me’.

Defining your key messages will help you to understand exactly what you’re trying to get across and what you want to achieve before you spend time and money sending out communication that doesn’t achieve what you want to achieve.

Channels

White chalk writing on a blackboard - the word media is surrounded by interet, TV, radio, magazine, billboard and leafletYou decide on your channel after you’ve defined your audience and key messages. They dictate which channel is most appropriate and not the other way around. If you start by thinking that you want to put your time, money and effort into Instagram, but your audience is grey nomads travelling around the country, you’re unlikely to get them, no matter what your message.*

Likewise, if you’re working in a secure government department and you want to advertise a work event, putting it out on Facebook probably isn’t going to get you many responses beyond a ‘please explain’ from the boss. The channel needs to be not only where your audience is, but where they will be receptive to your key messages. Older demographics may be quite active on Facebook, but it’s not necessarily a place in which they’ll take action from reading an advertisement. You have to keep your end game in mind.

Deciding on a channel is exciting and it’s easy to get caught up in the gloss and advertising, but remember that magazines, Facebook, radio stations and Instagram are all businesses. You can bet they’ve sucked you in by identifying you as their audience and pitching their key messages to you. Don’t let them decide how to promote your message.

If you’d like to find out how Capital Letters can help you identify your audience, key messages and channels, please get in touch.

 

*Of course, there are always exceptions and niches that a genius can find a way to exploit, but the odds aren’t in your favour.

 

 

 

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