Know thy audience

I coach individuals and businesses on getting what you want and removing obstacles along the way. Because my background is in public relations, one of the topics we often cover is how to express yourself.

In your personal life, this can translate into asking for a promotion.

If you're in business, it is how you attract and keep customers. Your mission statement. Your website.

No matter who you are trying to influence, before you open your mouth consider two things: your audience, and your desired outcome.

Sounds simple enough. And it is for the most part.

Your audience is who you want to reach with this message. In business that is your customers, investors or key influentials for either of those groups (i.e. the media). In your personal life, it's your boss, your spouse, or someone they have to speak to about you—your mother-in-law or the CEO for instance.

Think about:

  • What is important to your audience?
  • Why would they want or not want to give you what you want?
  • How and when do they best like to be communicated with? For instance, in the morning; while driving in the car; or after their first cup of coffee.

If this is a personal topic, keep your emotions in check when answering these questions. It'll make you more successful later on.

Next, know what you want. This is NOT your message.

There is a difference between knowing what you want and expressing it, and the key is your audience.

In order to get what you want - customers to buy your product, family to host Thanksgiving at your house this year—you need to use words that are meaningful to your audience. Their words, not yours.

This is a common mistake, even made by businesses when designing their websites.

I often start my business clients with building a profile for their ideal client or customer. Tell me everything you know about this person down to what brand of toothpaste they likely buy. (You would be surprised how easy to guess without much research.)

Part of that work with entrepreneurs involves interviewing people they know who fit this profile. During the interview you write down everything they say, without paraphrasing. The reason is to understand their motivation and their language. Then when writing about your product or service, you express its strengths using your customers' words.

The same is true in your personal life, perhaps without the toothpaste research. What makes your audience tick?

The most important thing to keep in mind throughout this process is: What's In It For Them?

Always ask yourself this question. It's vital to keep their needs top of mind to get your message heard in the best light.

Now it's time for the asking. To make the most effective argument, construct your verbal or written request in this order:

  1. What's true for them right now? Examples: they are stressed; they have limited time to focus on what you have to say.
  2. What do they need? Example: they want to save money, time, or both.
  3. How does what you want help them? Examples: Buying your services gives your customers more time to spend with family. Your promotion lessens your boss' workload, or increases the company's bottom-line.

You'd be surprised how well this works. Next time you see an print or TV ad, consider how they are using this model to maximum effect.

Interested in learning more? Give me a call to talk through your specific situation and audience.