Have you ever stopped to consider the faceless being known as your reader? I can imagine that you’re laughing at me right now. Of course you have — and you’ve probably tried ten thousand tactics to get to know them a little bit better.
If you’re like most bloggers, you’ve obsessively replied to comments, stalked anyone with a vague interest in your blog on Facebook or Twitter (or both), held surveys to figure out what your readers want to see, tracked your posts to see which ones get the most comments and shares… the list goes on.
I’m not going to say that all that stuff isn’t important. It is. (Though you may want to cool it with the stalking, there are laws against that.)
But have you ever considered the Productivity Personality of your readers?
There are four personality types that profoundly affect our preferences for organization, time management and productivity strategies. If you know the predominant personality type of your readers, you can make your articles speak to them on every possible level, from the information you present to the problems you’ll solve for them.
And, best of all, you can guess what type your readers are with the information that you already have.
Let’s say, for example, that your readers are Fantasticals. Fantastical types gain energy through wrestling with problems and coming up with creative solutions. They learn best by doing, and they have a tendency to lose track of time when they’re caught up in an interesting project.
If your readers are Fantasticals, you can tell through the comments they leave. Do they start discussing your content and brainstorming additional solutions to the ones you’ve proposed? Maybe they reply with something along the lines of, “Oooh, fascinating idea! I’ll have to take some time this evening to work on it!” Or maybe they comment on your article three or four days after you first post it and mention that they’re just getting around to reading it because they were working on something.
Once you have a suspicion that your readers are Fantasticals, you can start to tailor your posts to them. Pose interesting questions in your conclusions and leave the door open for discussion. Feed your Fantastical’s need for problems to solve and ideas to wrestle with. Rather than a constant stream of “10 Tips to Mastering Twitter” and other such posts, offer more theoretical points on occasion. Watch how your readers react to the changes in your work, and you’ll have a good idea of whether you’re on target.
But what if your customer is an Environmental? Environmentals are all about connection and people. They care that everyone around them is happy, healthy, comfortable and has what they need. The Environmental type thrives on human interaction.
Environmental readers are likely to share your work far and wide. They’ll also comment frequently, and carry on conversations in the comments that may or may not have anything to do with the content of the post. Do a bit of sleuthing and look into the networks of your readers – if they’re Environmental, those networks are likely to be large and full of activity.
So what can you do to connect with Environmental readers? Make sure your posts are easy to share, like, +1, tweet, e-mail or link to. And include questions in the conclusion of your post to spark off conversation in the comments. But don’t interfere if those conversations veer away from your post – you’ll foster more good will from hosting a place for your readers to connect to each other than you would if you kept the conversation tight and focused.
Your prospect could also be a Structural. Structural types are natural organizers (and, not coincidentally, are the authors of 99% of the productivity books on the market). A Structural thrives in a calm, structured environment and doesn’t do well with uncertainty or surprise.
Structural readers are a bit harder to identify. Rather than comments, you’ll have to rely on e-mail and survey results. Look carefully at what your readers are asking for. If you have a sizable contingent of Structurals, you’re likely to get request for information about systems, routines, and strategies. The word “organization” may appear more than once. And you’re not likely to find messages or entries with any spelling or grammatical mistakes.
How to cater to a Structural reader? Give them what they ask for! That being said, there is something that they often need but won’t realize, and you can be of significant assistance by providing it. Challenge them to examine their systems with an eye to pruning and updating them. Structurals often become caught in their systems because they don’t stop to consider whether the system that served them six months ago is still serving them today. You can save your readers lots of wasted time by encouraging an occasional system examination. 🙂
The last type your prospect could be is an Analytical. Analyticals are success driven, goal oriented individuals. They work well with summaries and numbers, and they don’t have patience for anything that appears unnecessarily elaborate or ineffective.
You’ll also have a bit of a challenge identifying your Analytical readers. If you’re not already providing content in the form they’re expecting, they’re not likely to stick around and wait until you do. Your best bet for identifying them is if you’re blogging on a subject that logically fits in with their mindset – how to reach goals, be successful, network, etc. If your readers comment or e-mail asking for more bullet points, figures and easy to digest action steps, then it’s likely that you’ve got some Analyticals in your audience.
When it comes to crafting your posts to Analyticals, the answer is once again to give them what they ask for! Keep your Analytical audience happy with information that is quick, relevant, and easy to find. Make sure your site is structured to allow old posts to be found easily.
Like the Structural, however, the Analytical will benefit from you doing something that they won’t think to ask for. Reserve a post now and then to encourage them to get away from their computer and their goals. Tell them to spend time with family or friends, take a vacation or unplug for a weekend. They’ll never think to do it themselves, but they’ll be much better for it.
By writing to your audience’s personalities, you can connect with them on a level that literally everyone in your niche ignores. I’m not saying this replaces all the stalking and expensive networking events. Consider it an amplifier. It will make those Twitter comments and brief SXSW conversations all the stronger!
What do you think is the predominant type in your audience?
Kirsten Simmons is the co-founder of Personalized Productivity, and has been described multiple times as “freakishly productive.” She swears it’s not a genetic mutation, and hundreds of people who have taken the Personalized Productivity quiz agree.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Productivity Personality theory, come over to Personalized Productivity and take our quiz. You’ll learn your personality type and get tips to help you customize your organization, time management and productivity strategies to your personality type.