Don’t Assume You Know Your Market

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Yesterday I asked for my readers’ opinions on future direction of the site.

I’ve had a couple of comments on that article and elsewhere since then, and one thing is pretty interesting so far: people have said they’re interested in stuff I didn’t expect.

For the most part, I write about copywriting, freelancing and closely related subjects. I try and stick to the topic because 1) it’s what I’m good at, 2) it’s what I figure most people are here for and 3) the whole “personal-brand talk-about-my-life-and-interests thing has always seemed a bit absurd to me.

Turns out that of the small sample size I’ve collected so far from readers, I’m totally wrong on that.

So far I’ve had a comment from Graham, asking for more brain and learning stuff.

I’ve also had a comment from Aaron asking for more of the niche business idea type stuff.

Both of these things are pretty fantastic, so I might be showing my bias here, but I’ll explain why.

Future Plans

I also wrote in yesterday’s article that I’m going to release a couple of copywriting products. Here’s the rationale for doing so.

Firstly, multiple people have asked me to create products and monetise the site. I’m sure you’re all happy with free stuff, but people asking to pay you is always a good indicator you’ve got a market.

Secondly, copywriting products are lacking in a lot of stuff. There are easy gaps in the market, for instance, in how to learn copywriting (and actually learn it) and how to get copywriting clients. More on that in the future.

Thirdly though, I feel like I’ve covered pretty much every topic there is on copywriting outside of some pretty specific situations and I’d like to create some comprehensive solutions and then move on.

Copywriting isn’t just a useful skill… it’s also a gateway drug into building businesses, learning other skills and making all of your hobbies profitable.

In terms of a long-term view, I probably can’t sustain writing about pure copywriting forever (we’re getting pretty obsessive compulsive about things now) and so little business tricks and other subjects is something I can easily move into.

Also… god knows actual business advice is still lacking on the internet, bizarrely. For all the blog gurus and passive income articles, actual business stuff is still thin on the ground, so there are easy areas to move into.

Anyway, this isn’t a “Dear Diary” thing. Let’s get to the point.

Don’t Assume You Know Your Market

I’ve limited the amount I talk about in trying to keep “on topic” for readers.

Well I say that, but that’s a bit serious… this is basically a personal blog after all. My point is though; you cannot assume that you know what your market wants without hard data.

This is more crucial when you’re talking about paid projects as opposed to a blog; I’ve seen (and sometimes been paid to fix) sales letters where the targeting is totally wrong.

A good example I worked on was one of those six-pack electro-stimulation belt things for your abs.

The sales letter the client had was geared towards gym rats and bodybuilder types, who, as you’ll know, aren’t the target market for an exercise replacement device. The market they were selling to wasn’t the target market, it didn’t convert and so it lost money.

A simple switch from one customer; a gym rat to a middle-aged guy who has had one too many beers, is enough to go from very low conversions to very high conversions.

Here’s the mistake people make; they assume they know what people want and who wants the product they’re trying to sell. Unless you have hard data (and the hard data might surprise you) then you don’t really know what’s going on.

Any decisions you make based on a lack of data are risky. That’s true of relationships, business, personal development, popping drugs some weird guy in a bar gives you… so on and so forth.

With that said, here’s an unrelated point.

Writing Online Will Connect You To Like-Minds

Here’s the crazy thing about the comments I’ve had thus far – and all the emails I get from friends of the blog: Everyone is on a pretty similar wavelength. Even among the disparate subjects; some guys are into writing fiction, a couple of people emailed when I wrote about Python Programming, and so on; most people are coming from a similar place and want similar stuff.

There’s a lesson in there.

Occasionally I read blogs and other articles where people talk about how terrible their “fans” are. You’ll get guys who write weird viral articles like “Ten reasons we should go back to slavery” and then wonder why the only people who like their articles are fascists and black people hate them.

Now, there’s no shortage of idiots on the internet, but if you’re writing for a different crowd than the one you’re getting, you’re probably doing something wrong. At a guess I’d say this is due to the oft-repeated mantra that you should write everything for the lowest common denominator online, making everything easy, to the point and in easy writing for two-syllable-maximum folk.

If you want to make a ton of money from as many people as possible, then fair enough. If you want to get like-minded commenters, then not so much.

Final Thoughts

Let’s conclude this article with some of the key takeaways:

  1. Thanks for the comments I’ve had so far. More are welcome and appreciated
  2. You can never assume you know your market – you have to get actual knowledge and data
  3. Ideally, you want your big projects to align with your values and play to your strengths because then you build a network of people with a similar outlook and similar goals

That about sums it up.

As always, thoughts, opinions, questions etc. all welcome.


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