Have you ever announced a new project, only to have people completely misunderstand how it was going to work, or who the intended audience was?
I’ve had that happen to me. Back in early 2019 I started a side project where I organized swag bags to be given to authors at workshops. Alas, when I first announced that project, several authors thought that I was organizing swag bags to be given to readers!
The problem was that I did not do a good job communicating my message. I thought everyone would understand what I meant, when what I should have done was look at the announcement from the perspective of the audience.
What I eventually learned from this mistake was that there are 6 key details that must be included in order to make sure that my message reaches its intended audience. I made sure to incorporate those details into the website for my swag bag project, and today I’d like to share them with you.
The 6 elements can be summarized as
- Audience – Who is this for?
- Process – How does it work?
- Benefit – What does the audience gain?
- Validation – Where has it worked before?
- About – Who is behind the project?
- Action – How does the audience participate?
BTW, I may be writing about how to include these details on a website, but these are also the same 6 key details you should include in any pitch. It doesn’t matter whether you are sending out an email, writing a press release, or designing a site to sell a product, these are the details you need to include so that your message reaches its intended audience, and convinces them to take action.
Audience – Who do you want to reach?
This is the point that trips me up the most. I am blessed with an audience made up of people in many different professions, so when I just want to target just one part of my audience, I have to choose my words carefully. If I do not then, like I explained in the beginning of the post, my message reaches the wrong audience and is misunderstood.
You also need to keep your audience in mind. One way to target an audience would be to mention problems only your audience would experience, or make references that only your preferred audience would catch. If you have to, be explicit about who your project is for. Bluntness might not be ideal but it’s better than targeting the wrong audience by mistake.
Process – How does it work?
This is a very simple detail that some people still manage to forget. Basically, process is my term for what happens when someone in the audience interacts with you. The process might be as simple as telling your audience “pay me money and I’ll send you my ebook”. Another example of a process would be when I tell a potential client that in exchange for a flat monthly fee, I will take care of updates, backups, and bug fixes for their website. You don’t always have to explicitly explain the process, but you still need to take pains to get the point across to your audience.
All that might seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read someone’s pitch and not been able to tell you what they wanted me to do. Did they want me to pay for their service, join their church, or invade Mars?
Benefit – What does the audience gain?
It is natural to assume that the benefits are obvious, but the simple truth is that not everyone will see them. This is why you need to make it clear how your audience will benefit from your project.
In most cases you will want to explain the headache you solve for your audience, or how you make things easier for them. This is the easiest benefit to sell, but you still need to make sure that what you see as a benefit is the same thing as what your audience sees as a benefit. They might not find the same value in the benefit that you do, which is why you will want to check with a test audience first.
Validation – Where has it worked before?
Nothing wins people over like giving them proof that your product, service, or what-have-you works. You can demonstrate this in a variety of ways, including by sharing customer reviews, news coverage, product ratings from trusted industry sources, etc.
In the case of my swag bag project, it is so new that it has hardly any track record, but I still made a point of including mentions of past swag bags so that my audience could see that the project really existed, and had already worked with several events.
About – Who is behind the project?
As a general rule, people are uncomfortable with the idea of giving money to someone they don’t know, so it’s up to you to introduce yourself and make sure they can find out more about you. Even if your audience already knows you, you still want to re-introduce yourself and position yourself as an expert. To give you an example, I have found that people think of me as a blogger, which is why I make an effort to re-introduce myself as a web designer.
Action – What do you want your audience to do?
Do you want them to sign up for a service, buy a product, or commit to join a collaborative project? Whatever it is, you need to make it clear to your audience what their next step is, and encourage them to take it.
This is what is known as a Call to Action. On my swag bag project site I just have the one call to action at the bottom of the page, but you will want to have a call to action at several different points on your home page. (I did not do this because I felt I needed to fully explain my project first.)