To effectively write to an audience you should strive to at least consider a few things, even though, like most things, it’s far more complex: education, desires, socio-economic status, and life experiences.
What understanding these things will do is help you craft your message appropriately. For example, with education, think about what language you would use when talking with a doctor versus a toddler. You want to use language appropriate for your audience. Aside from language, knowing what your audience already knows and doesn’t know can be another important approach. If you’re in the plumbing business, your average customer may benefit from an explanatory piece on how the work is done and why, but if you’re selling supplies to other plumbers, such an explanation would seem ridiculous.
Desire, as a methodology, is harder. Knowing what your audience wants, how they see their lifestyle, and how your products and services fit into that spectrum can be tricky and complicated. For example, if you’re aiming to sell beer to college students, you’re going to show parties, events, people having fun and not the austere woodsman, as much as the world would benefit from more Ron Swanson in every part of life.
I single out socio-economic status as it is often conflicted with how the individual actually places themselves. While the vast majority of Americans may think of themselves as middle-class, their actual purchasing power and spending patterns don’t mirror that ideal. Understanding how your audience approaches purchasing decisions can help you craft your message and the way you do business to better accommodate these factors.
Last, life experiences are important to understand because, contrary to what our culture continually tries to impress upon us, there is no such universal experience. Even when we know this, it’s still hard to avoid universalizing our own experiences and expecting others to be similar. This is often further complicated by the fact that those we grow up around do tend to have similar experiences by proxy. A recent study demonstrated that people who read Chekov before an interview were more likely to get the job. Part of this reason is that reading fiction exposes you to thinking about the experiences of others and thus builds empathy. We want to do the same with our audiences. We want to understand the experiences of our customers, not from our own perspective, but from their own. Thus, it’s important, that when we discuss how our products and services fit into an experience, that we don’t try to overly universalize and thus alienate our target demographics.
Thus, with just a little thought to your target audience, your content will have greater appeal and work inherently better, even for the purposes of SEO. It never hurts to put yourself in the position of your audience and to reflect upon how they will interact with you.