Communication is manipulation.
People have argued with me, but let’s look at this logically.
Manipulation is arranging circumstances. In a physical sense, manipulation is moving things around. In relationships, manipulation is moving words, ideas and even visuals around to motivate someone to do something.
When you’re writing, you are deliberately trying to make your reader believe or feel. Your Facebook status is trying to convince people, even if it’s that you just ate a delicious meal or are a huge fan of football.
When you think about communication this way, you better understand writing isn’t so much about writing what you want to write and in your voice, but writing effectively for your audience. Your words need to make sense and sound authentic, but they also need to hit your target audience where it hurts…or feels good, depending on your motives.
I’m currently working on a project that targets thirty-something women, high school education (maybe some college but for some reason or another didn’t finish, probably marriage and/or family), lower income, single with young kids.
They want inspiration, guidance, and security. So those are the things my writing will give them so I can get them to do what I want them to do.
If you’re appalled right now, please bear with me.
My motives are honorable. In fact, I am kind of excited to be helping this audience better themselves. They need empowerment, courage, guidance. They need to take care of their families, but they also need to take care of themselves. And I can help them do both.
And manipulation isn’t lying, or even bending the truth. I shape the truth to emphasize what is important to the reader.
What they read needs to relate to them with personal stories, motivate them with responsibility to their children (taking care of their daily needs and being an example) and comfort them with the promise of a supportive community.
I’ll use lower level vocabulary to avoid making them feel inadequate. I’ll give clear, small steps direction so the reader won’t feel overwhelmed. And maybe I’ll put a picture of a kitten on there.
No. Not really.
If you were writing for people who only spoke Spanish, you would change your writing to Spanish. Likewise, good writers give their audience what they need in the language they best understand.
Before you start thinking about what you want to say, you must think about who you want to hear it an what you want them to do. It’s not about you, your product, your services, it’s about the person you want to buy it. Give them what they want.
So do your research. Get to know your audience. Really get to know them. Don’t just make assumptions. Find data, interview multiple people.
Then give them what they need.