Last Tuesday was the second week of my five week class on Writing White Papers at the local community college. These adult students are working toward a certification in Technical Communication and come from a variety of backgrounds.

After three hours of fully explaining what a white paper is, what purpose it serves, who’s the likely reader, and how it fits into the sales cycle, each student was to come to the second class with a product chosen as the basis for a white paper they are to write.

As we discussed the products they chose, it appears they didn’t quite grasp the message I was teaching and had chosen products for which it would be unlikely for a prospect to read a white paper about.

“I covered that well. Why did they not get it?” I thought. I spent the next day trying to understand how I my teaching message could have been more effective.

The conclusion I came to is all about adjusting the message to meet the person where they are at. These students did not have the business experience I have and didn’t understand B2B product marketing and sales—not even at a basic level.

That got me thinking about how much or how little time we spend understanding where our marcom readers (prospects and customers) are at. Have we done enough research to know the level of knowledge and experience our readers have? Are we imposing or assuming our own knowledge?

Everyone interprets what they see and hear through their own life filters – and though they may be similar, they are not the same as our own filters.

Do you create personas or profiles of your ideal reader? And then do you make sure you write appropriately?

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