Whether your line of work is business or politics, it pays to know your audience. The world is full of businesses that failed because they did not know their audience. If you don’t, your message, however finely crafted it might be, will be ineffective because it did not appeal. Here are a few facts to dispel some myths about general audience.
Myth #1 – Americans are highly educated
Wrong. According to the U.S. Census in 2008, only 29% of adults over the age of 25 have any college education. Furthermore, almost of 15% of the adult population has not graduated from high school.
Therefore, if you’re writing for a general consumer audience, how do you think these facts should affect your approach? Short sentences and easy words. Simplicity is the key.
Myth #2 – Americans prefer big organizations
The truth is, in America, Big Anything becomes a target for distrust. Individuals feel insignificant in the face of mega-banks and conglomerates. American distrust of large organizations runs deep throughout its history. Public outcry against such large-organization fiascos as Enron, Worldcom, and Fannie Mae are vociferous and visceral.
The key for marketers in such large organizations, therefore, is to overcome this distrust through language, such as United Airlines’ “Fly the Friendly Skies.” Make the audience believe that the organization is on their side.
Myth #3 – Retro sells
Companies that have been around for a long time often bring out the old stuff, commercials and taglines from decades past. The feelings of nostalgia evoked in their audience might be pleasant, and retro styling sometimes attracts attention, but people don’t want products from forty years ago. They want 21st century products and 21st century ideas. American audiences look forward, not back.
This does not mean to say that old products and ideas are bad; however, never present them as old products and ideas. Renew them, revitalize them, and present them as fresh.
Source: Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear by Dr. Frank Luntz, Hyperion, 2007.
U.S. Census Bureau – www.census.gov