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This site is currently under construction. We are, however, pleased to say that the SMU 102 Digital Copywriting Unit is now open. We've also added Marketing Principles and an Intro to Public Relations. Our Content Marketing Unit is currently in development.

SMU 102 - Session 3: Copywriting demographics and segmentation...the importance of knowing your market

image depicting brand research process

Purpose/Aim of this session

This session delves more deeply into the subject of demographics, which we covered in SMU101: An Introduction to Branding. In this session, you will explore how to determine a brand's strategic market positioning, its target demographics - and translate these into creative copy.

Copywriting is basically an art of positioning your product in a way that magnetizes potential customers or leads. It must be robust enough to prove that your product or service is unparalleled in all aspects compared to your competitors’ products/services. You risk loosing prospective clients or customers if your copy fails to do so.

Copy has to strike the right chord with its intended audience. We need to speak their language - from the words we use, to cadence...and even down to the length of sentences. Knowing who you are writing to not only what you say...but how you say it.

Learning Aims for this session:

  • You will explore the process of creative thinking and how this supports innovation and conceiving "big ideas" for branding messages
  • You will familiarise yourself with the golden rules of copywriting
  • You will explore how to determine strategic market positioning, target demographics, media vehicles and translate these into creative copy
  • You will develop your knowledge of fundamental brand writing skills

Learning Outcomes for this session:

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Assess, explain and demonstrate your knowledge of the Golden Rules of Copywriting
  • Explain what the importance of audience demographics and market segmentation - and how they relate to the production of effective branding copy
  • Articulate the importance of research and context in copywriting
  • Explain how the confined space is influenced by the different mediums used in publishing brand messages
  • Produce effective copy samples for your portfolio

How this Session Works:

  1. Read through the Overview that accompanies this session. This provides an overall context for the session
  2. Work your way through the items on the Preparatory section that accompanies this session
  3. Listen to the Lecture that accompanies this session
  4. Work your way through the branding scenarios in the "Scenario" tab. Scenarios are practical activities to develop your critical thinking and apply your knowledge to a specific component of copywriting
  5. Work your way through the template in the "Template" tab. The template will support you as you take the first steps in developing your own brand messaging copy
  6. You can browse through some carefully selected material in the "Reading Room" tab. These materials will build upon your knowledge of copywriting

SMU 102 Session 3 Study Activities

  • Overview
  • Preparatory Activities
  • Lecture
  • Scenarios
  • Template
  • Reading Room

image representing positioning and demographics

Copywriting is an important function; one that must be carried out precisely and proficiently. There are several factors that you have to keep in your mind while writing brand messages. In this session, we'll be focusing on specific areas of audience-focused copy.

The Advantages/Benefits of Your Product

Preparation is key. The first and foremost thing that copywriters do before typing a single word is to note all the advantages and benefits of the product or service. Noting them down will help you cover them accurately in your brand message. This practice also minimizes the chances of forgetting to mention the advantages/benefits which can attract consumers - and aide in their purchasing decision process.

Write Down the Weaknesses of Your Competitor’s Product

Once you have listed the advantages and strengths of a product or service, the next step is to write down the weaknesses of your competitors product. This helps copywriters compare the product or service they're writing about with the competing product in market. With the help of such comparison, a copywriter can create a good, clear and effective image of a product or service in the mind of an audience member.

Speak Directly to Your Audience

Another important factor that can help a copywriter position his or her product, organization or service appropriately is to know the targeted audience. S/he must know accurate information about his or her audience, such as gender, age, ethnicity, interest, profession, etc. These things helps copywriters format branding messages in a manner which can easily attract customers or clients.

Keep the Copy Clear And Simple

One of the most important things that we must take care of while writing a copy is clarity as well as simplicity. Don't use jargon, clichés or complex sentences that can make it harder for your audience to understand. Lack of understanding may turn off our customers which will ruin our writing efforts.

Tell Your Audience What’s In It for Them

Another thing that we must do is to tell our prospective customers what our product or service will do for them and/or make their lives better - or his it solves a problem. Our copy should convey how our product or service is the most appropriate and suitable product/service for them. And, of course, how it does it in a way that a rival brand can't

Don’t Include Too Much Information

One more thing we must pay attention to with our product descriptions is not including too much information. Lengthy copy has the danger of looking boring and dull and/or intimidating and time-consuming to read. We risk potential customers ignoring the copy and not wasting their precious time on it.

Make one point in a branding message. State it clearly. And state it well.

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  1. Before we delve more deeply into the world of market demographics, here's a great introductory article that focuses on marketing audience demographics. It specifically focuses on answering two questions:  Who are you trying to reach? and What do you know about them?
    .
    Mangen, M. 2013. Struggling With Copywriting? Helpful Hints for Virtual Assistants – Determining Audience Demographics, The Virtual Assistant.
    http://www.thevirtualasst.com/struggling-copywriting-helpful-hints-virtual-assistants-part-3-4

  2. In the video below, bestselling author Dan Pink shows us how to influence others more effectively through clearly identifying a target audience. Whether we're pitching to prospective customers or clients, or employees pitching to our bosses, or parents and teachers cajoling kids, or politicians presenting new policies - our ability to persuade depends on our understanding our audience.



  3. Performer Amanda Palmer delivers a simple, yet powerful, talk on how powerful the relationship between brand and consumer can be. Yes, the subject is selling music and yes, her approach is quite left-field. However, understanding the overall process unlocks and taps into the possessing a true understanding of who your brand's audience is, their expectations - and the ways in which they want to interact with a brand. Note: there is one brief image that is not safe for work.



  4. In SMU101: An Intro to Branding, we covered the subject of tribes. The question and answer piece below will develop your understanding and knowledge of this concept:

    Godin, S. Tribes Q&A2. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/files/TribesQA2.pdf

  5. Please read: The Mighty Copywriter, 2010. Path of Persuasion: Winning Customers in the Age of Suspicion. http://www.themightycopywriter.com/otherimages/Path.pdf

  6. Please read: Godin, Seth, Brainwashed: Seven ways to reinvent yourself.
    http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/docs/brainwash.pdf
  7. Last, below is a link to a short article about how creating audience persona's can lead to effective copy strategies:

    Casel, B. 2013. The Importance of Defining Customer Personas (I Finally Get it Now), casjam. http://casjam.com/defining-customer-personas

  8. Marketing Positioning: Perceptual Mapping / Positioning Map, Learn Marketing.
    http://www.learnmarketing.net/perceptualmaps.htm

  9. Please read: Godin, Seth, Brainwashed: Seven ways to reinvent yourself.
    http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/docs/brainwash.pdf
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The videos below act as a brand messaging writing bootcamp. The first video covers the subject of research and audience demographics. The second video focuses on the various copywriting formats (radio, television, print and online)

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The scenario activities for this session will develop your critical thinking on the subject of audience/demographics and brand positioning.

You will find some television and print advertisements below. Beneath each advertisement you will find some questions to think about and answer. Think about the technique of brand "positioning" to appeal to an audience with specific demographic characteristics, such as:

  •     Gender
  •     Age
  •     Race
  •     Marital Status
  •     Sexual Orientation
  •     Education Level
  •     Income

Apply what you have learned about demographics from the Branding Unit as well as this session. You will be transferring and applying this knowledge to the template for this session.

Chocolate commercials

Not all chocolate commercials are created equal. Each chocolate advert below is aimed at a specific audience and has a well defined brand positioning statement to make. Who do you think the audience is? On the spectrum of other chocolate brands, how do you think chocolate lovers (the audience) perceives it in terms of positioning (high quality, low quality, high price, low price, etc).,

Godiva: "It's not for girls" TV advert

  1. What storytelling technique or device was used to get your attention?
  2. Think about / describe the intended audience for this advert (e.g. age range(s), gender, income bracket, etc) .
  3. How do you think the advert and it's central message ("It's not for girls") reflect the brand's understanding of it's audience?
  4. What do you think the promotional aim is with this advert? (e.g. Promoting image and sales, attracting new customers, changing attitudes, providing information, etc)
  5. What is Yorkie's brand personality in this advert - and how do you think this personality matches Yorkie's demographic? What specific words and images lead you to believe this?

Godiva: "Simply Irresistible" TV advert

  1. What storytelling technique or device was used to get your attention?
  2. Think about / describe the intended audience for this advert (e.g. age range(s), gender, income bracket, etc) .
  3. How do you think the advert and it's central message ("Simply Irresistible") reflect the brand's understanding of it's audience?
  4. What do you think the promotional aim is with this advert? (e.g. Promoting image and sales, attracting new customers, changing attitudes, providing information, etc)
  5. What is Godiva's brand personality in this advert - and how do you think this personality matches Godiva's demographic? What specific words and images lead you to believe this?

Galaxy: "Think Galaxy" TV advert

  1. What storytelling technique or device was used to get your attention?
  2. Think about / describe the intended audience for this advert (e.g. age range(s), gender, income bracket, etc) .
  3. What do you think the promotional aim is with this advert? (e.g. Promoting image and sales, attracting new customers, changing attitudes, providing information, etc)
  4. What is Galaxy's brand personality in this advert - and how do you think this personality matches Galaxy's demographic? What specific words and images lead you to believe this?

Aero: "Feel the Bubbles" TV advert

  1. What storytelling technique or device was used to get your attention?
  2. Think about / describe the intended audience for this advert (e.g. age range(s), gender, income bracket, etc) .
  3. What do you think the promotional aim is with this advert? (e.g. Promoting image and sales, attracting new customers, changing attitudes, providing information, etc)
  4. What is Aero's brand personality in this advert - and how do you think this personality matches Aero's demographic? What specific words and images lead you to believe this?

5 Gum

5 is a brand of sugar-free chewing gum that is manufactured by the Wrigley Company. The name "5" hints at the five human senses (with the ad slogan "Stimulate Your Senses" and "Everybody Experiences it Differently").

At the time of the adverts below, the 5 chewing gum brand was a new entry in to an incredibly saturated gum marketplace. in other words, there were already many, many, many well-established chewing gum brands already available when this brand launched.

5 Gum tasked its advertising and copywriting agencies to craft brand messages aimed at very different demographics. Each advert was finely honed and tuned into a very specific demographic profile as part of positioning itself. Just as you did with the chocolate commercials, watch the videos below - and answer the questions which appear below each video.

5 Gum: "Rain" TV advert

  1. What storytelling technique or device was used to get your attention?
  2. Think about / describe the intended audience for this advert (e.g. age range(s), gender, income bracket, etc) .
  3. How do you think the advert and it's central message ("Stimulate your senses") reflect the brand's understanding of it's audience? What trigger does it use for its demographic?
  4. What do you think the promotional aim is with this advert? (e.g. Promoting image and sales, attracting new customers, changing attitudes, providing information, etc)
  5. What is 5 gum's brand personality in this advert - and how do you think this personality matches 5 Gum's demographic? What specific words and images lead you to believe this?

5 Gum: "React" TV advert

  1. What storytelling technique or device was used to get your attention?
  2. Think about / describe the intended audience for this advert (e.g. age range(s), gender, income bracket, etc) .
  3. How do you think the advert and it's central message ("Everyone experiences it differently") reflect the brand's understanding of it's audience? What trigger does it use for its demographic?
  4. What do you think the promotional aim is with this advert? (e.g. Promoting image and sales, attracting new customers, changing attitudes, providing information, etc)
  5. What is 5 gum's brand personality in this advert - and how do you think this personality matches 5 Gum's demographic? What specific words and images lead you to believe this?

5 Gum: "Choose Your Experience" TV advert

  1. What storytelling technique or device was used to get your attention?
  2. Think about / describe the intended audience for this advert (e.g. age range(s), gender, income bracket, etc) .
  3. How do you think the advert and it's central message ("Stimulate your senses") reflect the brand's understanding of it's audience? What trigger does it use for its demographic?
  4. What do you think the promotional aim is with this advert? (e.g. Promoting image and sales, attracting new customers, changing attitudes, providing information, etc)
  5. What is 5 gum's brand personality in this advert - and how do you think this personality matches 5 Gum's demographic? What specific words and images lead you to believe this?

5 Gum: "Cobalt" TV advert

  1. What storytelling technique or device was used to get your attention?
  2. Think about / describe the intended audience for this advert (e.g. age range(s), gender, income bracket, etc) .
  3. How do you think the advert and it's central message ("Stimulate your senses") reflect the brand's understanding of it's audience? What trigger does it use for its demographic?
  4. What do you think the promotional aim is with this advert? (e.g. Promoting image and sales, attracting new customers, changing attitudes, providing information, etc)
  5. What is 5 gum's brand personality in this advert - and how do you think this personality matches 5 Gum's demographic? What specific words and images lead you to believe this?
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You have been tasked with re-visiting copy you've written in the various session templates for this unit. You'll be working on the same copy that you have been working on previously once again.

The scenarios in this session engaged you in some critical thinking about audience. You're going to apply those insights to the template activity for this session. However, to recap the major points of this session, and what you learned about audience from the branding unit, there are a few things for you to contemplate and incorporate into this copy revision activity.

  1. While copywriters will know who their audience is through listening and research - the most effective copy is produced by thinking of one person. We make our 'pitch' to individuals...and not demographics. Like the persona of "Jess" that we covered in the branding unit.
  2. Whenever we write, we need to be thinking of that one person; that single persona.
  3. What can you help Jess out with? Why is your stuff the perfect match for her problems? These are the kinds of questions which must be raised and answered in your copy.
  4. Speak the language of your audience. In other words, you have to speak Jess's language. Use the phrases, metaphors and examples that your customers use. Describe their problems the way they do. When they give you testimonials, don’t clean up little grammar errors or odd turns of phrase. Naturally, to make this work, you have to get to a point where that language is natural to you.
  5. The worst mistake to make is thinking your "market" is anyone with a pulse. Find your Jess, and just write for her. (Even the non-Jesses will respond to this, because your tone will be personal and genuinely friendly.)

The template below has been provided to assist you with revising the copy you produced for the SMU102 Session 2 template. You will revise your copy, applying your deeper knowledge of audience to your copy.

SMU102 Session 3 Template - Know Your Audience by SocialMediaU-USA

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The Reading Room for this session provides carefully selected resources for you to further explore copywriting concepts, elements, issues and practice.

While this reading will develop a deeper understanding of the concepts covered in this session, it is not mandatory.

Bourdieu, P. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique on the Judgment of Taste.
http://www.mit.edu/~allanmc/bourdieu1.pdf

Campbell, C. 2005. The Craft Consumer: Culture, craft and consumption in a postmodern society, Journal of Consumer Culture, 2005 5: 23. http://www.open.ac.uk/wikis/StitchedUp/images/b/bb/Craft_consumption.pdf

de Mooij, M. and Hofstede, G. 2002. Convergence and divergence in consumer behavior: implications for
international retailing, Journal of Retailing, 78 (2002) pp. 61– 69.
http://csc-studentweb.lr.edu/swp/berg/PhD%20Backgound%20material%20-%20dissortation/Literature_articles/A%20set%20of%20Human%20factors/Culture-%20Convergence%20and%20divergence%20in%20consumer%20behavior-%20implication.pdf

Donovan, M. The Luminosity of the Local. Practica Group LLC.
http://www.practicagroup.com/pdfs/The_Luminosity_of_the_Local.pdf

Fang, I. 1991. Writing Style Differences in Newspaper, Radio, and Television News, A monograph presented by the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Writing and the Composition, Literacy, and Rhetorical Studies Minor, Monograph Series No. 2, 1991.
http://writing.umn.edu/isw/assets/pdf/publications/Irving%20Fang.pdf

Fournier, S. 1998. Consumers and Their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 24, March 1998, pp. 343 - 373.
http://bear.warrington.ufl.edu/weitz/mar7786/articles/fournier%20%281998%29.pdf

Hancox, P. 2011. Emergency Copywriting: How To Write A Persuasive Sales Pitch In As Little As 24 Hours...With Zero  Copywriting Experience.
http://www.emergencycopywriting.com/060911/EmergencyCopywriting.pdf

McCracken, G. 1989. Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Activities, Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring, 1989), pp. 79-81. (Requires free subscription to access) http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1181219?uid=2134&uid=2479414247&uid=2&uid=70&uid=3&uid=2479414237&uid=60&sid=21104743739307

McCracken, G. 1989. Who is the Celebrity Endorser? Cultural Foundations of the Endorsement Process, Journal Consumer Research, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Dec., 1989), pp. 310-321. (Requires free subscription to access) http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2489512?uid=2134&uid=2479414247&uid=2&uid=70&uid=3&uid=2479414237&uid=60&sid=21104743739307

Miley, M. and Mack, A. The New Female Consumer: The Rise of the Real Mom, Advertising Age White Paper.
http://adage.com/images/random/1109/aa-newfemale-whitepaper.pdf

Nobre, H. 2008. Brand Relationships: A Personality-Based Approach.
http://repositorio-aberto.up.pt/bitstream/10216/13190/2/TeseDoutoramentoDefinitiva2.pdf

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., and Thornhill, A. 2009. Research Methods for Business Students, Fifth edition, Prentice Hall, London.
http://doha.ac.mu/ebooks/Research%20Methods/ResearchMethodsForBusinessStudents_Saunders.pdf

Schouten, J.W. and McAlexander, J.H. 1995. Subcultures of Consumption: An Ethnography of the New Bikers, The Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Jun., 1995), pp. 43-61.
http://designmind.frogdesign.com/files/blog/brian/ethnography_of_new_bikers.pdf

Sherman, S.F. 2011. Advertising’s Biggest Enemy is Indifference, How to Teach Advertising.
https://teachadvertising.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/advertising%E2%80%99s-biggest-enemy-is-indifference

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