Large audience, from behind, in black and white

Copywriting tip 3: Who – your audience

Large audience from behind

Here’s one of my favourite quotes.

(No apologies for using it in every workshop and webinar I run.)

‘If you want to be a well-paid copywriter, please your client.
If you want to be an award-winning copywriter, please yourself.
If you want to be a great copywriter, please your reader.’

It’s from Steve Hayden, co-creator of Apple’s 1984 ad.

Why do I like it so much?

It’s a reminder that – with our copywriting hat on – we don’t care about awards or accolades. Or even the organisation we’re writing for.

No. We only care about the reader.

We’re on their side. We’re their champions. We push back when we don’t think the offer, the product, the proposition is good enough.

To do that, I need to really understand them. What makes them tick. What keeps them awake at night?

Can I picture who they are? Walk in their shoes?

Barbara Nokes, a famous UK copywriter, once said:

‘I think myself under the skin and into the head of the person I’m addressing.’

Try role-playing to understand their lives. (This is easier, by the way, if you’ve got someone you trust to bounce your ideas off.)

Use Hootsuite to listen in on what the audience are talking about.

Join LinkedIn Groups (if writing to a business audience). Facebook Groups, if consumers. Read what their concerns are.

Ask around. Talk to people. Listen to them. Be a sponge.

Audiences are full of ideas. If we just listen.

I always start with the ‘Who’. Because it will naturally lead to segmentation.

When I’m sure I’ve got a good understanding of the audience and their lives, I move on to the second W. The What.

That’s our next step, and our next tip.


This tip is based on my 30 Tips in 40 Minutes webinar.

Feel free to download a version of the slides and watch a video of the one-hour webinar.

Image source: Pixabay


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Jon Maxim

Jon is a multi-award winning copywriter. For over 30 years, he’s helped clients – large and small – develop engaging concepts, content and copy. For 25 of those years, he’s been teaching people how to do it themselves. His courses on copywriting, ideation and presentation skills are highly sought-after and highly effective. Jon lives in Sydney, Australia: but is often found on a plane, heading to where he’s most needed.