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Start with your audience

September 9, 2013

nesting dolls

Photo: Liz West (CC)

In all your communications, know your audience.

It’s the best starting point in connecting with them. You might be considering one person for an email or a thousand fans for a social media campaign.

Your audience could be friends, customers, partners, strangers or subscribers. They may be experts or beginners, locals or outsiders, peers or unconnected others. Some may be indifferent, or even hostile to your talking points.

nesting dollsYou must understand how they receive news and information: online or through the media or through other people. And what formats they prefer: text, photos, video, graphics, audio and so on.

Not knowing your audience leads to misfires: wrong tone, wrong medium, wrong message, poor results.

Get to know them by asking them questions and studying their behavior. Yes, it sounds like a mad scientist research project, but it ensures you’ll have a message that resonates.

You might assume your audience is just like you, so your preferences should be their preferences. This is a trap. You must get outside your pattern of thinking to see how others react and behave.

But a few of your habits do apply to others: clicking quickly from one thing to the next, skimming for info, making snap judgments on the value of a post or email, being drawn to certain types of headlines or photos.

The only magic bullet in effective communication is to know your audience. Turns out that bullet isn’t a bullet at all, but a process of discovering how groups listen, read and respond.

Photo: James Lee (CC)

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