NOTE: I realize that by publishing a post like this, I risk to lose the respect of some who will consider what I’m about to say as batshit crazy. Except, it’s not. It’s process.

I am a white man in his early 50s. As such, my personal experiences have been more sheltered than most. There should be no way for me to effectively connect with people who are not like me, and who I’ll never meet in person, to convince them of an idea, or mobilize them to do something. 

But that’s exactly what I do every day. 

I accomplish this by creating an “other” in my mind (which is based on The Process, referenced in this article) who represents the intended target audience. I then have an intimate conversation with this “other” to discover what matters to them and what motivates them to think and act certain ways. 

For me, this is the essence of creativity. And not everyone has the capacity to think this way. It’s as close to being insane as it gets in the commercial world. I mean, I literally have conversations with people I invent in my head. And oftentimes there are multiple conversations going on as I move from one room (project) in my mind to the next. 

In order to have these intimate conversations, I have to frame the audience as best I can. Sure, demographics are important, but not nearly as important as psychographics. And to get those, I have to ask tough questions about people who are not like me. Questions that clients might take for granted, or may not think about at all. The answers to these questions, however, are essential for the best internal dialogues and, yes, the most favorable outcome. 

So … when we work together, don’t be shocked when I dive far under the surface, deep below a product’s features and benefits, to discover this singular target person who I need to have a conversation with. In my mind. 

Are you a writer or designer? Do you have a similar process? [Please say yes.] Share it here. 



The Tale of Two Conservatives
The Truth About Branding

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.