Knowing Your Audience


The most important thing in communicating is knowing who you are. What’s your brand? What do you care about? What makes you remarkable? What’s your voice?

But the next most important thing is probably knowing who you’re communicating to. Who’s your audience? What do they care about? How do they think? What language do they speak?

Suppose you’re all about providing fun experiences for children. Nice! But there’s a big difference between speaking dad-language, speaking mom-language, and speaking kid-language.

Is your audience concerned about frugality and practicality, or about comfort and quality? Do they like feeling grown up, feeling not too grown up, or feeling respected for their maturity? What sort of topics or images don’t connect with them? Are they part of a family, or does the word “family” alienate them?

Does your audience want a message that’s simple and straightforward, or subtle and tasteful? How do they feel about big words? What sort of humor do they find funny?

How does your audience feel about money?

A lot of small businesses and non-profits feel very hesitant at first when you start narrowing the audience. They have a pretty diverse base and don’t want to turn anybody away. They want to say: our audience is everybody! Well, great. If your audience truly is everybody, then either you’re a multi-billion dollar state-sponsored monopoly (e.g., SRP), or you sound desperate.

Imagine a bachelor who sets up an online dating profile that says, “I want to date anybody! Any of you are welcome to be my future girlfriend!” Do you think that will attract him the responses he wants? No. Why not? Because he sounds desperate, and desperate means … not very good.

Narrowing down your audience doesn’t mean narrowing down who your customer is. You can have diverse customers, but target a different audience with different pieces – fliers, mailers, e-mails, facebook ads, events, or so on. Also, remember that your potential future customers are already pretty narrowly defined by what you do. Does your business clean pools? The typical person who owns a pool and is willing to pay someone else to clean it is different from the typical apartment dweller, or the typical retirement home resident.

Who’s helping you figure out your audience?

Image courtesy of Bahman Farzad