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Carolyn Beaudoin How to Craft Messaging for Multiple Audiences (Without Tanking Conversions)
The Agents

Do you know your customer’s “jobs to be done”? If not, you’re probably not optimizing your copy for maximum ROI. Carolyn Beaudoin from Boxcar Agency explains how we can still reach multiple audiences at once, by using a Hybrid One Reader approach.

How to Craft Messaging for Multiple Audiences (Without Tanking Conversions) Summary

Key Takeaways

  • Hybrid One Reader Approach: Carolyn introduces the innovative concept of the Hybrid One Reader, which allows businesses to address multiple audience segments simultaneously by focusing on shared characteristics, simplifying complex marketing challenges.
  • Challenging the Rule of One: She discusses the traditional marketing rule of targeting a single persona per message and explains why and how this can be effectively challenged to enhance engagement across diverse groups.
  • Implementation on Websites: Carolyn provides insights on applying the Hybrid One Reader strategy to website content, particularly on homepages, where capturing the essence of multiple audience interests is crucial for engagement and conversion.
  • Email Marketing Efficiency: The strategy also extends to email marketing, where Carolyn highlights its benefits in reducing the resource and time costs associated with segmenting audiences, making it ideal for teams with limited resources.
  • Impact on Customer Understanding: Through the use of jobs-to-be-done frameworks and the Hybrid One Reader, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs and motivations, leading to more effective marketing strategies and better customer alignment.

How to Craft Messaging for Multiple Audiences (Without Tanking Conversions) Episode Transcript

Rich: My next guest is a messaging strategist, conversion copywriter, and the co-founder of Boxcar Agency. As head of creative strategy at Boxcar, she helps growth focused subscription businesses optimize their web and email ecosystem so they can drive repeatable, reliable revenue, now and long-term.

Today, we’re going to be flipping conventional wisdom on its head and talk about how to write for multiple audiences at once, with Carolyn Beaudoin. Carolyn, welcome to the podcast.

Carolyn: Hi, Rich. Thanks for having me.

Rich: So what does it mean to write for multiple audiences?

Carolyn: The challenge that many businesses run into is that they have multiple segments that they market to. You have different audiences, and how do we write to those multiple audiences? It’s a really big question.

Often the push is, we do segmentation, and we don’t actually write to multiple audiences. But what we’ve seen is that there is an alternative, and the alternative is a Hybrid One Reader, which essentially looks at your various segments. And you can imagine them in a Venn diagram, so to speak. Each segment occupies a circle in the Venn diagram, the shared over overlap in the middle is your Hybrid One Reader. So it is the aspects of each segment that are shared.

Rich: Okay. I’m not going to treat you like a hostile witness or anything here, but at the same time, for years I’ve been told you write to one person only. One person reads your copy at the time, you should always be writing to one person. So if we’re trying to write to multiple audiences, doesn’t that just muddy the message?

Carolyn: It’s a good question, yes. So I am picking a fight with the rule of one. You’re referencing the rule of one. It’s something that we often learn in our journey to learn copywriting. So most marketers learn this along their way. In particularly copywriters, it’s drilled into you. Rule of one. It keeps you focused. It keeps your message focused. It helps your reader understand that the offer that you have for them, is for them. And it helps them understand the next action to take, right?

So the rule of one can be broken down into one reader, one big idea, one offer, one CTA. So the Hybrid One Reader is a stand in for your one reader. So if you were to imagine the sort of traditional way you would go about it, just as you’ve just mentioned, is you would have one segment. And that segment would be your one reader. So in this case, the Hybrid One Reader, which is the shared aspects of your multiple audiences. That’s your one reader.

Rich: All right. So how does that work for websites? How are you implementing that onto a website, this idea?

Carolyn: The challenge often faced with websites is that you have pages on your website that you can’t just write to one reader. Take your homepage for example. You have so many different visitors landing on that page. They might be in different audience segments, they might be in different stages of awareness, and how do you speak to all of them simultaneously?

It’s very challenging, and that’s where your Hybrid One Reader would come in. Your headline, for example, and your homepage hero messaging, and all of that’s visible above the fold, that is a prime opportunity for you to use your Hybrid One Reader. So that when somebody lands on that page, no matter who they are, provided that they’re in one of your segments, they see themselves on the page.

Rich: You mentioned this phrase last time we were chatting, “jobs to be done”. What does “jobs to be done” mean, and how does it influence your approach?

Carolyn: Yeah, that’s a great question. And specifically, let me take a step back for a moment. The segments that I’m talking about specifically are “jobs to be done” defined segments. What is jobs to be done, though, right? It sounds like a pretty strange framework or formula to be using. But it’s really a methodology to help you define your personas.

And an anecdote that helps people grasp onto the idea when they’re new to jobs to be done, is customers don’t buy the quarter inch drill, they buy the quarter inch hole. So jobs to be done is progress oriented, not demographics based.

If we think about other traditional ways of defining a segment or a persona, we have things like an ICP, which is typically a sort of fictitious or at least demographics based understanding of the company. We might look at things like revenue per year, or we might look at the size of the company or the industry, but this is demographics based. It doesn’t actually tell us what they’re trying to accomplish in a specific situation that would require our product.

Likewise, traditional buyer personas, you might have Suzy from sales. And again, these are often largely demographics based. Suzy from sales is between 35 and 45, and she has a team of three, and here are the general responsibilities that she has, and here is the larger team that she’s a part of. Still largely demographics based. Jobs to be done is a little bit different. It looks at progress. It’s customer oriented, it looks at progress. So that’s the heart of it.

There are multiple models, different models of jobs to be done, depending on who you want to look into further. If you’re curious about this, there’s Clayton Christensen, there’s Tony Ulwick, there’s Bob Moesta. But at the end of the day, jobs to be done really is looking at what is a customer trying to do in a specific situation. And that’s the job.

Rich: So just trying to bring it into my own world. We’re a digital agency. We offer a lot of different services. We’re not industry specific. We have people in healthcare, we have people in hospitality, we have CPAs, a wide variety of businesses. So my homepage, it would be difficult to talk about the specific problems of one group without alienating the other.

But all of those groups, if I’m understanding you correctly, I might need help with their branding, they might need help with a new website that converts visitors into customers. They might need help ranking higher in the search engine. So in this approach, I should be writing at least on the homepage where I’m getting this Venn diagram of audience members, I should be writing more with the “jobs to be done” mentality, which is what are you looking to accomplish, and we can help you.

And then if I’m understanding you correctly, I might send them to certain sections of the website where I might take a more hospitality specific approach, a more healthcare specific approach, a more CPA specific approach, or what have you.

Carolyn: Absolutely. That’s exactly it.

Rich: All right. Awesome. That’s helpful. So you work with a lot of clients, obviously. When you’re taking this approach, how does it influence the email marketing? Is this just coming down to segmentation, or are you still implementing this approach when you’re writing emails, or what approach do you take?

Carolyn: So that’s a really great question. Emails are a bit of a hot topic, right? Because if we compare them to a website, it is often easier to segment emails than it is a website ultimately, depending on the circumstances. But for email specifically, we still use this. And the reason that we recommend this approach is typically in a specific circumstance. Two specific circumstances, I should say.

So one is a resource constraint circumstance. So if you are part of a team, or maybe you’re a team of one and your team is small and they have limited resources, you only have so many hours in the day and you have all of these different things to do on the marketing side of things. And if you’re a team of one, you’re also wearing all the other hats in your business. A segmented approach is not for emails. It’s not set it and forget it specifically email automations, right? People often think clients, even that we work with often, think that if we get this automation up and running, that’s it, we’re good. And no, unfortunately not. You do need to continue to monitor and maintain. Occasionally, you’ll be updating it as well.

And if we think about the complexity of an automation, when a single branch automation versus a five-branch automation or six branch automation, the complexity of maintaining that infrastructure increases significantly, which increases your time burden. Which is hard when you have this resource constraint. And so in those particular circumstances, we recommend a Hybrid One Reader approach in most of the ecosystem. Depending on the client, they might have a specific area of their ecosystem where we say, you know what, this is so critical to your conversions, and we have reason to believe that segmenting at this particular moment in time in the buyer’s journey will pay off in terms of paid conversions, and so let’s segment here.

But we do that strategically and intentionally so that if we’re creating infrastructure that has that sort of resource burden on the back end to maintain, that it’s done so for a strategic, business growth, and revenue driven decision.

Rich: Okay. All right. Social media is another place where this can either work for us or be a challenge. We put stuff off onto Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, what have you, anybody can see it. So is there any kind of special approach that you take when you’re crafting social media messages using your framework?

Carolyn: So I’ll say that Boxcar Agency really doesn’t work in the social media side of things. However, we do, of course, run social media for ourselves, mostly personal driven brands. And I would say, no. When we go ahead and create social media content for our brand, we do so with a Hybrid One Reader approach. This same, Hybrid One Reader approach. That we’re really speaking to, okay, our prospects, no matter what industry we’re in. Because we also work across different industries and business types. Whether it’s software or e- commerce, et cetera. What are they trying to accomplish in their job? What are like what are they trying to do in their day to day when they come to us? What is the role that we are trying to fill in their life so that they can accomplish X goal? Typically, it’s business growth or driving revenue, so we typically speak to that.

Rich: Can we use this approach to attract bigger, better clients or to move upstream? How might we leverage this tool that way?

Carolyn: Yeah, we love this particular tool, this particular methodology for moving upstream. I’ll give an example of a client that we recently worked with, a B2B software company.

They had a core audience already established, small-ish businesses. And they wanted to move upstream, exactly as you’ve described. They want to move upstream, they don’t want to alienate their existing audience, they love their existing audience, they want to keep working with them, but they just want to attract bigger opportunities in their pipeline.

And so what we did in this particular circumstance, it was for a PPC landing page. They had a traffic constraint in that the traffic arriving on that page was not necessarily one segment of the audience or another. So this is, again, a key approach when now that we know that we have this traffic constraint, we can use Hybrid One Reader to speak across segments so that we don’t alienate any one reader that lands on that page.

What we did was we took this Hybrid One Reader approach and rewrote this particular landing page, A/B tested it, and as a result of the test, we found that the hybrid web reader approach resulted in an approximately 50% increase in MRR. Which indicates to us that page is doing the job of helping the business achieve their goal of starting to shift upstream.

Rich: Oh, nice. All right. That’s good to know that works. All right. How do we, as we’re thinking about this Hybrid One Reader idea, how do we identify the best places in our funnel where maybe we should start this approach?

Carolyn: That’s a good question. Again, going back to those constraints, right? So we have traffic, the traffic constraint, which we’ve spoken about, tech. Tech being that either you may not have data to segment against or the data may not be reliable. This is often in email marketing programs that we see this.

Or on the website side of things, again, we go back to this homepage. You might have a personalization tool in your tech stack, but if you don’t, that’s a tech constraint. And it’s also a tech constraint that is perfectly fine and acceptable. Many businesses do not have personalization tools in their tech stack. They are typically quite expensive. Also, they typically require additional tech that you need to plug into it, which further drives up the cost of personalization tools for the website side of things. So if you don’t have a personalization tool, that’s okay. But that would be an instance where you could use this. And then the resources constraints that we spoke about earlier.

But in terms of concrete marketing assets that you can start to think about for this particular approach, homepages, for sure. Homepages are just ready for the Hybrid One Reader approach for your messaging, specifically.

Also PPC landing pages, like I mentioned. If you’re not confident that one particular type of reader is landing on that page, go ahead and use the Hybrid One Reader approach. Also, emails where segmentation may be unreliable or unrealistic. So sometimes welcome sequences. An initial, they’ve just subscribed, and you maybe have barely any information about them. Depending on the form that they’ve come through, you might only have a first name and an email address. You can implement a self-segmenter email at the beginning of that welcome automation, but you may decide that you’d rather just get them oriented in the business and understanding what you’re all about and start providing value versus trying to segment them out. So those are some key areas that we typically look at first for implementing a Hybrid One Reader.

Rich: All right, awesome. Now, when you’re working with a client, when do you decide if the copy is working or needs to be revised? Are you involved with that process, and you ship them over to the Hybrid One Reader approach? What are you looking for in terms of results or information that maybe you need a different approach?

Carolyn: Yeah, so that’s a great question. We typically do that work early on before we get into writing copy for our clients. Typically we start with a research and discovery phase of things, where we are really getting to know our client’s customers.

And so this looks like a bunch of different research gathering, whether it’s running jobs to be done interviews. Ideally, we’re running jobs to be done interviews. This is something, even beyond the Hybrid One Reader, this is something that our clients come to us for, is this alternative lens that we can provide on their customers. It can reduce the complexity, frankly, of the way that they’re thinking about their customers.

Particularly, some businesses come to us and they’re targeting 10 or 15 different verticals. That’s so many verticals. And how are you supposed to speak to all of those people? And so this approach often allows those different verticals or different segments to get bucketed into a couple of different core jobs to be done. And that’s through the process of this research and discovery phase. What we find with our clients is that sometimes they come to us and say, “Hey, I understand the product or service that I’m providing, but I don’t totally understand what my customers think they’re buying or even what they want when they’re buying from me.” There’s a bit of a disconnect in this. Again, this work can help with that.

Once the research and discovery phase is complete, there’s a lot of research that goes into that, different pieces of research, surveys, looking at chat transcripts, if you have a sales team, you look at sales recordings, et cetera, et cetera. Once that’s all done, we sit down, and we profile the jobs to be done. We create a Hybrid One Reader, and then we assess what is already in existence. So what’s going on in your website, what’s going on in your homepage, what’s going on in your email program, depending on the project that we’re on.

And that’s the point at which we pinpoint, I’m not going to optimize or update the messaging here, because what we’re seeing is that your messaging, for example, is heavily product based, and it’s really just talking about the features of the product. And based on what we’ve seen in the buyer timeline and the research that we’ve done, we believe that at this point in their buyer’s journey towards saying ‘yes’ to your product, they actually need to see X, Y, and Z, and we need to help them overcome these particular anxieties that are preventing the ‘yes’. And so that’s how we go about identifying opportunities to improve messaging. And then on the back end of that, that is when we go ahead and start writing the copy.

Rich: For the content creators, copywriters, and entrepreneurs out there who are listening to this, and they were basically always brought up on the, ‘you talk to one person at a time’, what do you feel is the mental shift that they have to have so that they can abandon that approach and use this approach to be able to reach more people with less work?

Carolyn: That’s such a good question. I’m trying to think back to when I first had to do this shift. I think at the end of the day what it is that often I think, particularly for copywriters who are working in owned marketing channels, especially if they work in email marketing, you’re sort of taught – and part of it is the industry and part of it is, I think, even how and where we learn what we do – you’re taught that segmentation is like the mark of a sophisticated email program. It’s like, if you’re not segmenting, it’s not sophisticated in some way. And we’ve seen large marketing teams struggle immensely with segmentation, and it creates so many different types of problems.

It’s not to say that segmentation isn’t something that you should use. But this is an alternative approach that still, at the end of the day, and I think this is what copywriters want – this is what I want at least when I’m writing copy and when I’m planning messaging – is to put the customer first. You’re really an advocate for the customer, for the one reader.

And this approach, this Hybrid One Reader approach, it is a single profile created by looking at the shared attributes. So it is still representative of the customer. It still puts the customer first. It’s a more focused way, though, rather than having to say, okay, so I’m talking to software businesses, and I’m talking to e-commerce businesses, and I’m talking to online educators, and I’m talking to all of these different segments. It’s like no, what do they all want? What do they want from you? That’s your focus in your message.

Rich: That’s awesome. This has been great. Carolyn, thank you so much for dropping by. If people want to learn more about you, more about Boxcar, where can we send them?

Carolyn: If you’re ready to start driving business growth with the added benefit of reducing the complexity of your marketing ecosystem, then you can grab a copy of our free ‘jobs to be done’ template and step-by-step instructions that help you start to map out your Hybrid One Reader. And you can grab those resources for free at boxcar.agency/change.

Rich: Awesome. And we’ll have those links in the show notes, as always. Carolyn, thank you so much for your time today.

Carolyn: Awesome. Thanks, Rich.


Show Notes:

Carolyn Beaudoin and her team at Boxcar Agency are experts in recovering lost revenue from poor marketing strategies. Be sure to grab their free ‘jobs to be done’ template to create your own Hybrid One Reader.

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 25+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.