Write Copy as if You’re a Criminal Minds Profiler

Here’s a question for you, dear readers: would you talk to a 20-year-old male living in Los Angeles in a different manner than you’d talk to a 45-year-old woman living in a suburb of Boston? (This isn’t a trick question.)

A: Yes, of course you would. So imagine my shock the other day when I got a call from a marketer who wanted me to write a headline for a print ad, the third in a series in which he’d created the other two. I asked him where the ad would be appearing, and he told me. Then I asked for demo info on the pub. And he said, “What do you mean ‘demo’ info? Oh, you mean demographics? I don’t think you’ll need that info once you see what I did with the first two ads.”

How can I write an ad for an invisible audience? How do I know if I’m talking to the 20-year-old male living in an urban setting or the 45-year-old woman living in suburbia? I can’t. So, of course, I went to the publication’s website, downloaded the media kit, read it, and sent it to the marketer along with my suggestions on images and headlines based on the people who actually read the magazine.

(Sadly, this situation isn’t an anomaly. It happens more often than you think.)

I love the show Criminal Minds because of how the FBI agents get into people’s heads (granted, we’re talking pretty screwed up heads). When you write copy, when you create a website, a direct mail campaign, a sales letter, a radio spot, whatever…you need to profile the typical audience member with the same precision and level of detail. Really.

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  1. […] this up.” I went to the publication’s website and downloaded the info myself. Yes, this is the same marketer I wrote about here.) The ad included the company’s “credo” and a picture of the owner and staff. […]

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