Know yourself and your audience

Earlier this week I allowed my toddler to take over my blog for a few reasons. 1) He is a master manipulator 2) I’d mentioned my other son a few times and decided he deserved some spot light time and 3) His methods may be somewhat Machiavellian, but he instinctively knows how to conduct a basic personal SWOT analysis.SWOT

By SWOT I mean the business process of analyzing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and then figuring out a way to turn weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities, or at least neutralizing them.

He is mobile, but not agile. That is fine with him, he forces us to fetch and carry for him so that he can focus on other priorities saving vital resource time.

He is loud, but not necessarily articulate.  He finds other ways to get his message across. He is big on non-verbal communication.

What he lacks in world experience he makes up for by cultivating strategic partnerships.

All to often we try to be too many things to too many people. As the saying goes, when you try to please everyone, you please no one. Our messages become diluted, convoluted and lost in the crowd. In business it is of utmost importance that you clearly identify your target customer / target market.

When I began writing, I decided the same principles applied. There are going to be readers out there who just aren’t going to be interested in what I have to say, or be turned off by my style. Just as if I was creating a marketing plan in mind for product development, I tried to always keep my ideal audience in mind as I was writing. The story could easily have taken various, ultimately pointless, detours if I had tried to throw in nuggets for my non-target readers.

In addition to the book’s SWOT, I thought I might follow my toddler tyrant’s lead and complete my own personal SWOT. So what were my strengths? In the case of An Uncertain Faith, while I didn’t have much professional publishing experience, I have more than a few years of experience with much of the subject matter.

My weaknesses? The lack of prior publishing experience was a big one, but my day job has given me plenty of experience writing to non-English speakers. If you ever wonder if you are describing something well enough, send a note to overseas colleagues. If they can understand you even after putting it through a free translation program then you know your word choice is spot on. If you don’t have that luxury, merely open two free translation programs. Write text in one and convert it to Traditional Chinese. Copy and paste the Chinese translation into the second translator, specify that it is Simplified Chinese and convert back to English. I tried this once where I attempted to describe a metal fan blade. The resulting translation back was a poetic phrase about steel flower petals wafting in the wind. I believe there might have been a tiger involved as well.

Threats? Yes, there are going to be internet trolls and negative reviews out there, and as I become more successful they will become a greater threat, but at this time I found my greatest threat was myself. If I didn’t hit the submit button, I would never achieve success.

Opportunities? Well that is the whole point to this exercise isn’t it?

An unforeseen benefit from giving the little man the blog reins for the day was giving me an opportunity for my first blog two-parter, my first attempt at a sequel! I hope you enjoyed it.

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