It seems to be such an easy concept: define who is likely to receive your message.
Yet, so many people get it wrong.
How many times have you been a captive audience for a presentation, whether it was parents’ night at school, or a sermon in a house of worship or a conference for your profession, where you were flabbergasted by the speaker? Countless times is has happened to us: a speaker who had done no research or preparation for her presentation on either the topic or more likely the specific needs or viewpoint of the audience. One time we actually heard a speaker say, “I was working on this during the ride here.” And we were offended…offended that he probably received a speaker’s fee for clearly minimal or no work and offended that he valued us, his audience, so little that he thought he could wing it and we wouldn’t notice. (We noticed; it was a really lame Power Point.)
We’ve seen speakers who were oblivious to the time constraints or room conditions and had no notion that they weren’t connecting to the audience and sometimes were even alienating them. We’ve seen speakers who dumbed down their message and underestimated how offensive that would be. And we’ve seen speakers who used insider lingo and sometimes even spoke in foreign phrases, unintentionally (or was it intentionally?) excluding those who didn’t understand that portion of the message.
How many times have you seen an advertisement on TV and thought to yourself, “I may not be the target audience for the show I’m watching.” There was a famous newspaper story entitled “My Tivo Thinks I’m Gay” (not that there’s anything wrong with that), which detailed a writer’s regular TV watching suggestions from Tivo. Apparently, his Tivo had extrapolated from his watching a couple of HGTV shows that he was gay.
One of the first steps in any marketing process is to understand your “audience”. Who is your audience?
- Your current customers and clients
- Potential customers and clients
- Those who are seeking the services or products you offer
- Those who engage with any of your marketing materials, whether they are clients or not, employees, family and friends
You may have different audiences for different sectors of your marketing plan and even for different aspects of your business. A full service small bank has to market to those who are arranging financing for a house as well as high school kids who are setting up their shared checking account with ATM cards with their parents for college.
The key to all of the messages that we put out “there” is that we have to find ways to connect with all of the members of our audience in all of their complexities and nuances.