There’s a question you must always ask when you begin your copywriting. Yet troublingly, it’s a question which rarely gets a straight answer.

It’s who are you writing for?, or more broadly: which group of customers are you targeting your message at? It’s one half of a critical issue at the outset of every well-executed copywriting project, yet it applies to anyone writing anything of any consequence: what are you trying to say and who are you saying it to.

Some typical replies I’ve come across are “we’re writing for everyone who wants to buy something from us” or “we can’t decide who to write copy for so can we make it everybody?”. In both cases, the answer isn’t specific enough, at least not for this meticulous freelance copywriter.

The thing is, clients undoubtedly know their customers and how they behave, especially which ones they want more of. They’re usually just reticent to write with one specific group of them in mind, or more fundamentally, they worry about excluding other opportunities (from different customers) at the expense of focusing on that specific group.

So indecision creates a tug of war between writing good targeted copy that reaches out to and grabs the most important customers and generic copy that tries to appeal to everyone. A useful test of any decent freelance copywriter is the degree to which they fight for the former, encouraging their clients to be bold and decisive so they get better results from their copywriting.

Copywriting without direction or specificity creates copy that every client (without exception) wants to avoid: empty words that sound like what everyone else is saying. Copywriting like this not only puts off your most important customers, it also puts off everyone else because you fail to stand out. So overall, without a specific reader in mind, you have a detrimental effect on every reader.

How to avoid a copywriting stand-off

You avoid this problem by copywriting with a well-defined reader (customer) in mind. Then focus on their priorities and what keeps them awake at night. That way you write copy which truly resonates with your readers because it’s clear your product or service improves their lives.

Remember, by writing copy tailored to one group of people you aren’t sticking two fingers up at everyone else. You’re just proving you have a clear sense of identity, purpose and truly understand the impact your offering has on the people who benefit most from it. For everyone else outside of that group, commonalities will still resonate in your superbly crafted and convincing copywriting, far more than generic ‘one-size-fits-all’ copy that sounds like everyone else ever will.