Updated: Mar 15
When the legendary Michael Jackson made his appearance wearing a mask and gloves, the media went berserk. Some giggled, some watched in awe, some thought he was definitely losing his marbles. Fast forward to today, and, here we are, all miniature versions (albeit a lot poorer) of MJ wearing masks in public, weary of our own shadow and uncertain as to how this pandemic will unfold.
Covid-19 has turned our lives upside down (some of us going crazy along the way amidst lockdown after lockdown, spending our ever-diminishing money on psychotherapies). Nothing is the same anymore, and this is the one universal truth that resonates with every single one of us. Covid-19 is a complete game-changer, and unfortunately, it is here to stay.
As a writer, you must understand that this pandemic has wreaked havoc along with its passing and that its aftermath is “Bad.” Yes, you can’t “Heal the world,” but you can certainly try to reach your readers where they are right now and not where you wish they were. So, how do you do that?
1. Research Your Audience
Obviously, you can’t meet your readers where they are if you don’t do your research. Buyer personas are never static, and they keep on changing as the events around us unfold. People are not the same today as they were a year ago, or even five months ago. So do your research. Understand your readers’ pains, worries, needs, desires, and hopes. Identify your audience and narrow it down to the group of people you want to reach. Not everybody has the same needs, and not everyone has been affected the same way by the pandemic. Your message cannot appeal to everyone. First, decide who you want to reach and then do your homework. Craft accurate buyer personas, map their buying journey, and meet your readers where they are.
2. Appeal to Your Audience’s Needs
Some may argue that appealing to your readers’ needs and agitating their angst is downright sadistic. Well, to a certain extent, this may be true, and content writers can sometimes be “heartbreakers.” On the other hand, you need to appeal to these needs if you want to reach your audience where they are now. Ignoring these needs or these pain points is like pretending that your readers are somewhere else.
Nobody is sipping pina Coladas on the beach, so pretending that everyone is happily living the carpe diem thing would make it seem like YOU are losing your marbles. Which means you are not credible, which means you are not trustworthy, which means that your message never gets across, which means…well, you get the point. Meet your readers where they are, and talk to them about their needs. Appealing to their emotional angst is the only bulletproof way to grab their attention and get them to listen to you.
3. Find A Way To Connect Emotionally
Once you identify your readers’ needs and pains, you need to connect with them emotionally. Don’t be a passive listener, who offers a casual nod, a pat on the shoulder, and a reassuring smile counting the minutes for the conversation to end (kind of reminds me of my psychotherapist).
You need to show that you not only understand their worries and concerns, but you also experience them firsthand yourself. Show your reader that the two of you are riding the same wagon, and they will be more than happy to hop on board and buy whatever it is you are selling. They will even gladly share this newfound knowledge with friends and family. We are all affected by this pandemic, and we are all on the same boat, trying our best to navigate our way through this unchartered territory.
4. Generate Awareness of How Your Product Serves These Needs
Now that you have your readers’ attention and have emotionally connected with them, you must proceed to the next step. You must generate awareness of how your product will satisfy their needs or appease their angst: hook and bait. Meet your readers where they are and offer them a way out. Since they already know you share the same worries, needs, desires, and angst as they do, they will trust that your solutions are credible and trustworthy. You need to explicitly show them and persuade them how your products or services are in their best interest. And you know this because they are in your own best interest as well. And you wouldn’t try to push sales for something that doesn’t work, would you?
Life can be hard. “Behind the Mask” we are all struggling to make ends meet, to navigate our way through this new status-quo, to get our bearings and pull ourselves together. You must, therefore, meet your readers where they are now and not where you wish they were. And in doing so, you will discover that you and your readers were actually at the same meeting point all along.