Want to know a simple technique you can steal from Pixar that's going to help you connect with your target audience?

In this post, you'll discover how you can use "Pixar power" to take your marketing to a whole new level.


What Can You Learn from Pixar About Connecting with Your Target Audience?

Let's go back in time a bit to the movie Inside Out - just another movie where Pixar won an Oscar for best animation. To put it in perspective, the award for best animation was their 8th in just 15 years of being in business.

That’s some impressive domination of a field.

Did you know if you watched a non-US version of Inside Out you might be shown a slightly different movie?

For example, if you watched the movie in Japan, the food Riley hates is not broccoli, but green peppers.

Does Riley hate broccoli or bell peppers? It depends on where you watched the movie. via Pixar

Also, depending on which version you watch, you’ll see Riley’s dad daydreaming about hockey or soccer.

Riley's dad daydreams about two different sports based on where you watch the movie. via Pixar

Why these differences? Here's what the movie's director said about it:

Pete Doctor

Director, Inside Out

"We learned that some of our content wouldn't make sense in other countries. For example, in Japan, broccoli is not considered gross. Kids love it. So we asked them, 'What's gross to you?' They said green bell peppers, so we remodeled and reanimated three separate scenes replacing our broccoli with green peppers."

This attention to detail shows us something very important:

Pixar truly understands the need to resonate with its audience on an emotional level.

In total, Pixar localized 28 graphics across 45 individual shots for the movie and it’s this meticulous attention to the details that might explain why they have been so successful.

While the changes seem small, the impact it has on the viewer is massive. It takes advantage of a powerful psychological phenomenon by creating a shared social identity between the movie and the viewers. It does this by developing a sense of oneness and understanding through shared emotion and feeling.

This sense of oneness based on shared emotion and feeling is where the power lies. You can use this principle in your own business to increase your conversions by matching your message to your target audience.

A sense of oneness based on shared emotion and feeling is a powerful way to increase conversions.

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Before I show you exactly how you can find out what words and feelings resonate with your target audience, I want to explain why it works...

What Does Your Shared Social Identity Look Like?

First you have to identify the shared identity of your audience. In some cases, this might be easy, but other times, you'll have to really dig deep and ask what draws your audience together. 

Here are some examples you can use for inspiration. 

Finding Your Version of Hoosiers

Kurt Vonnegut coined the term “granfalloon” and defined it as proud and meaningless associations of human beings.

He beautifully describes the power behind the psychological phenomenon with a straightforward exchange about Hoosiers, which is simply: a person living in the US state of Indiana.

'My God,' she said, 'are you a Hoosier?'

I admitted I was.

'I'm a Hoosier, too,' she crowed. 'Nobody has to be ashamed of being a Hoosier.'

'I'm not,' I said. 'I never knew anybody who was.'

In the social psychology world, it’s known as the minimum group paradigm: the creation of a shared social identity generates a sense of oneness within the members.

It’s startling how small and meaningless the shared group criteria can be before complete strangers start acting like close friends (and discriminating against the out-group) because of the arbitrary grouping.

One experiment had subjects express their opinions about paintings by artists they had never heard of. They were then assigned either to a group that appreciated Klee or to one that enjoyed Kandinsky. Unknown to the subjects, the grouping was randomly assigned and had nothing to do with the paintings they had picked...

Nevertheless, despite the fact the subjects were total strangers prior to the study, they acted as if those who shared their meaningless label were their best buddies. They rated others who shared their label as more likely to have a pleasant personality and to have produced better output than out-group members.

The first question you have to figure out is what your shared social identity looks like.

How To Create Your Own Shared Social Identity to Connect with Your Audience

How can you use this in your online business?

By discovering the words and emotions your customers use when they communicate and then using it in your website copy, opt-in offers and ads.

When you share the same buzzwords and slang as your audience (here are some additional tips to help you build your audience), you become someone who is on their side with a deep understanding, and not some foreign entity. You create a sense of oneness based on shared feelings, resulting in more favorable attitudes all around.

The most important element of copywriting that works is how well your message matches up with the way your prospective customers view things.


You need to understand what your audience hates, loves, treasures, respects, fears and struggles with. When you connect with your audience on this level, everything you create will be more compelling because you understand them and they feel understood.

Before you can match your message to your audience, you should have a general idea of who your audience is (demographics). I’m not going to go into how to do that in this post but here’s some resources to help you, if you need it:

After you know who they are, you need to understand their mindset and unlock the words they use.

4 Ways To Unlock Your Shared Social Identity

These 4 strategies will help you dig deep into the way your target audience thinks so that you can connect with them on a deeper level. 

1. Find Out What Other Websites Resonate with Your Target Audience

After you have put in some time understanding your audience’s demographic you should have a good idea of other websites they frequent. These websites are popular for the same reason Pixar is successful: they have found a way to resonate with the people consuming their content.

Why not piggyback on their hard work and figure out the words and message THEY are using successfully with YOUR audience?

Before I show you how to find the most used content and words on the websites your audience is reading, let me show you an example...

I’ve picked two websites with what I imagine have two different audiences, and therefore, probably use different mindsets and language to connect with their readership. The first is Oracle’s Marketing Blog, which features advanced, industry level, marketing content. The second is Eat.Sleep.Wear’s Blog, which features female focused lifestyle and fashion content.

It’s not a stretch to imagine there will be two different types of people reading these two websites. But is the language they use really different?

A quick way to find out is to build a wordcloud from each of the website’s RSS feeds to see their most frequently used words:

Different websites use different words to create a unique "feel" for their audience.

Words Jumping Out:

  • Content
  • Automate
  • Brand
  • Engage
  • Media
  • Data
  • Product
  • Lead
  • Market
  • Prospect
  • Consume
  • Execute

The words and "feel" of this website are much different than the site above.

Words Jumping Out:

  • Love
  • Lifestyle
  • Feel
  • Excited
  • Cozy
  • Incredible
  • Beauty
  • Vibe
  • Happy
  • Friend
  • Perfect
  • Travel

How To Create Your Own Wordcloud

Step 1: Find the RSS Feed of the site you want to learn about (if you don’t know how to do this, click here)

Step 2: Use a free wordcloud tool

Step 3: Scroll down to select the RSS Feed option and insert the feed URL into the tool and click Start.

The tool will give you a nice visualization of the types of words used (as seen above). If the actual wordcloud is too hard to follow you can click the “Edit List” button at the top and it will give you a full listing (with counts) of the words found. Do this with a few of the big websites your visitors frequent to get a good idea of some of the words and themes you should use in your own copy.

Some sites won’t have an RSS feed, so a less elegant solution is to check out the About pages of the sites and analyze them. These will have some great words and phrasing to give you an idea of what your visitors care about and how they might describe themselves.

2. Survey Your Followers and Customers

The best place to get insights is from your audience itself. 

The more you know about your audience, the better you can serve them, and you'll find people are willing and even eager to share their thoughts. 

You can easily create advanced quizzes on your WordPress website using Thrive Quiz Builder. Not only will this help you create beautiful quizzes that grab your audiences attention, but it fits seamlessly into your user experience to maximize the insights you receive. 

As you get more and more feedback, it's going to help you to much better understand the language your audience uses, the challenges they face, and the content they're looking for. This is a goldmine of information that big companies pay tons of money to unearth, but you can have it all at your fingertips.  

Example Questions You Can Use

Trying to find out the general level - this is a “Multiple Choice” question and the survey taker is only allowed to pick one answer to the question.

Trying to find what’s most important - this is a “Checkboxes” question and the survey taker is allowed to pick multiple answers.

Open ended questions - These are short answer and paragraph type questions (don’t make them required) to give people who want to write more the option to.

This is a great time to try to find out what your audience is struggling and frustrated with and since they are providing the answer you’ll get some insight into the words and emotions your audience uses. Tip: It’s helpful to put examples of the type of answers you’re looking for to get better results.

Talking further question - Finally, you can ask the survey takers if they’re interested in talking further. 1-on-1 conversations are one of the best ways to learn about your audience, so take advantage of the fact you have someone’s attention and start building a list of people you can talk with 1-on-1 (I’ll talk about this further in the next section).

3. Customer Calls

Once you have someone ready to hop on a call with you to discuss your product, it’s important to be organized and have a method/system in place. This ensures you get the maximum benefit from talking to a real customer while minimizing wasting time as it’s easy to get into less-helpful conversations.

The most important thing is to have a “problems and current solutions” focus, which basically means to steer all discussions away from features. This is because it’s not an end-user's job to think about features. Generally speaking, the end user's feature ideas won’t be very good.

It's your job to find out your customer's problem and then create the best solutions.

How To Organizing Your Customer Calls

Setting the stage

  • Be explicit about your goals.
    How to phrase it in your call: We want you to help us improve by creating better products.
  • What you expect of them.
    How to phrase it in your call: You will be doing most of the talking, there are no expectations or wrong answers.
  • Constructive criticism is better than praise.
    How to phrase it in your call: We’d rather hear about what you dislike and what you find frustrating about our products, instead of what you like about them. Don’t worry, we won’t take it personally.

Asking your questions

  • Demographics style question.
    Example: Can you tell me what the product of business is you currently use our products for? 
  • Problems and current solutions questions.
    Example 1: Please tell me what your current solution looks like, what do you like about it? What frustrates you most about it? 
    Example 2: If you could wave a magic want and be able to do anything you want with [product], no matter whether it’s possible or realistic or not, what would it be?

Ending the call

  • Be appreciative of the customer's time.
    How to phrase it in your call: Thank you very much for taking the time to help us out! Your answers today have given me some very valuable insights and this kind of thing will really help us build better products and features. This will benefit thousands of customers, so thank you very much.

4. On Site Surveys/Chat/Polls

This is a more advanced level option as the resources I’ll link to below are paid services. However, they are great to get more targeted responses from your audience. You can choose specific pages to place the survey/chat/poll boxes, like your sales and order pages to try and understand what is stopping visitors from buying - confusing checkout process, bad pricing, more questions to ask, etc.


  • UserFeedback - Advanced customer feedback collection for WordPress websites
  • Hotjar - Onsite surveys, polls and heatmaps
  • Olark - Onsite chat
  • Tawk.to - free on-site chat service.

Ideas For On Site Surveys/Chat/Polls

Finding Popular Opt-In Offer Ideas - Here’s an example of a Hotjar Survey we used to poll our readers to help us create an opt-in offer our audience would find most helpful:

Engaging your quiet fans - Here’s an example of how you can use onsite chat to start engaging with your readers who visit your site, but might not be as vocal. 

The One Who Better Understands Their Audience Wins

You will be able to drastically improve your conversions and engagement if your audience feels like you understand them.

There is SO MUCH you can use this new information for it could easily be an entire post, but I’ll give you a few ideas and examples here:

Your Headlines And Blog Content

Tip: Don’t Make These Headline Mistakes

Your Ad Copy

Your Opt-In Forms

You need to understand your audience like Pixar works to understand theirs. They are a huge and successful company, but they still take the time to ask their audience if their stories make sense and then adjust their animations accordingly.

You should be doing the same with your online business and then using what you learn to create more fascinating and click-worthy copy, ads and opt-in forms.

Was this helpful and actionable for you? How do you try to resonate with your audience? Let me know in the comments below!

About the Author Dave D

When Dave isn't enjoying experimenting with the chemistry of copywriting and exploring the different powers of the unlimited combinations, you can find him traveling the world out of carry-on luggage—he has been living this way since the end of 2012. You can read his travel hacks, gear lists and ridiculous stories at The Quest For Awesome.

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