Masters Application Portfolio

This is my portfolio for the NYU Master’s Program in Professional Writing. The pieces here are a mixture of freelance content and content from my personal blog. Also included is a sample piece originally written back in 2017 for a job application, but was edited in November of 2020 for this specific portfolio.

To view more blog content writing samples, visit:

For Academic Learning Institute (October 2020)
For the blog Eclectic Erin (October 2020)

Writing Sample: Discussing the Importance of Target Markets

When creating a marketing campaign, the main concerns is how does a company connect with their target market.

Target markets are made up of people who have wants and needs, they have emotions and dreams; essentially they share a lot of the same things that either you or I have.

When it comes to creating a campaign that reaches the target market, companies should be connecting with consumers on a more human level. Show them that there is no difference between their needs and yours. However, the next step is figuring out how to show this to the consumer.

Consumers need to see that the company is run by people who have gone through similar struggles that the consumer has; the only difference being that the company has a solution to the problem. One of the best methods to communicate this is through storytelling, as you can connect with your consumer on a more human and emotional level. For some products, it is easier to create such a story than for a more inane product, such as a sponge.

During my final semester of college, I was in an entrepreneurship class where the main focus was a group project about selling an original product. My group was selling a UV sponge holder that keeps your sponge cleaner for longer. So how did we create a story revolving around this concept?

Using my senior project as an example, let’s put these three main points for storytelling into action:

-Knowing the customer and understanding their conflict

-Knowing what kind of story would best resonate with them

-Knowing how to effectively communicate this story

First, keep in mind who the target market is, as this impacts how to tell the story. Our target market for the UV Sponge Holder are younger moms between the ages of 20- 30 years old, who have children between the ages of 1-4 years old and are tech savvy. Even with this description, it is necessary to create a more developed idea of who the customer is, to ultimately create a buyer persona. When thinking of one single person to sell to, reflect on the specific traits of that person like this:

-Sally is a twenty eight year old mom who cares about her young children very much

-She doesn’t want them to get sick from germs that can be found around the house

-She loves experimenting with new technology

-As a young mother, she is spending money on things essential for her kids such as food and diapers

-Sally is very conscious of her ecological foot print, and wants to reduce the amount of waste going into the environment

Now that there is a specific idea of who this buyer persona is, figure out what is the actual conflict for your buyer. This may not just be the problem that has them considering a product to purchase, but also whose product should they buy. To figure this out, be familiar with who the competition is and why your product is significantly better than theirs.

For the UV Sponge Holder, one competitor would be dishcloth’s and similar linens. These linens cost more upfront, but in the long run, all you do is wash them and then use them again. However, if your target market is very environmentally conscious, remind them how much water is used when washing these rags. Not only that, but when they need to be disposed of, where do you dispose of them? For most people, it would be right in the trash, just like the sponges.

Next, you need to explain why your product is the answer to their problems. For Sally, the UV sponge holder is a solution to her problem because:

-Her children stay healthy by avoiding the spread of unhealthy bacteria

-Money is saved in the long run by having her not have to spend money on new forms of sponges or dishcloths, which is money she can spend on her family and their needs and desires

-The UV sponge holder is the most environmentally safe solution as it reduces waste (she throws away less sponges) and she uses less water to maintain the cleanliness of her household cleaning items (she won’t have to wash dishcloths in the laundry every other day)

Now that there is a clear idea of who this consumer is, and how their problems are solved using your specific product, the buyer persona is complete.

The next step to figure out is, based on this specific buyer persona, what kind of story do you want to tell? What will connect with them the best? Something funny and lighthearted, or a story that’s more emotional and tugs at the heart strings?

For this example, lets use a story that tugs at the heartstrings, because if done right, the advertisement can be seen as empathetic and understanding. Based on the buyer persona, here is one such story to tell:

Sally is trying to maintain balance in her life; keeping her kids healthy, helping save the planet, so her children have a great place to live when they are grown up and having their own kids, yet she isn’t sure how to do that. Sure, she recycles and saves water when she can, but what else can she do?

Reduce the amount of waste she produces.

Besides recycling, how can she do that? That’s where the UV sponge holder comes in.

The UV sponge holder keeps sponges bacteria free for longer, meaning that Sally is throwing away less sponges, and therefore doing something else to help keep the planet safe and clean for her children’s future.

By emphasizing certain points important to Sally (her children being healthy and happy, helping the environment) the marketing campaign went from simply selling a product to providing Sally with a solution to her problem which can be easily implemented.

The final part of storytelling is how to communicate the story to the consumer, which determines the strength of connection with your consumer. Some stories are more effectively told through an article such as this one, but others are better told visually, whether that be video or a photograph.

In this case, it might be easier to tell the story of Sally through a video. That way, it stays in the consumers mind longer, even if they are a busy mom on the go. If the advertisement is strong enough, it will stick in her mind long enough so that when she goes shopping wherever the UV sponger holder is sold, she will actually take time to consider it and buy it.

The process of storytelling can seem intimidating, especially if you are not familiar with your consumer. To become more familiar with who the consumer is, market research is the best way to go. Not sure the best way to reach your audience? See if there are any studies that are already out there that can help you. If not, don’t be afraid to create your own survey to figure it out. As important as market research is, don’t over do it, as it can be quite expensive once it all adds up. Research what is necessary, and don’t perform research for the sake of doing it.

Overall, three important things for storytelling are:

– Understanding the consumer and having a buyer persona in mind throughout the entire process

– Creating a story that, based on the buyer persona, will connect with them

– Figuring out how to best communicate this message to the consumer

Storytelling is a vital aspect in advertising, because it is what ultimately builds that connection between the consumer and the company. Taking the time to better understand who the target market is and strengthening that relationship can ultimately lead to more satisfied and loyal customers. And remember, even though storytelling is important for the company to communicate with the consumer, it is equally as important for the company to listen to the consumer. The more satisfied the consumer, the more likely they will be a repeat consumer, and through positive word of mouth, their friends and family will learn about your product.

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