Know and understand your audience

I recently received an email from an organization in the communications field asking for my input. The email offered me the chance to win an iPod Shuffle. I found it surprising that an organization in this field would reach out to communicators and offer that as the prize. The communicators I know either have iPhones or smart phones that hold music or they already have a music player. And a Shuffle is pretty far down the food chain. An iPad would have been a better prize; only about half of the communicators I know have a tablet of some type.

It was clear to me that this organization either didn’t think about the audience for this request or didn’t care. Trying to better understand the “what’s in it for me,” I went through their request. (There always has to be something in it for the person you are asking to take action.) They wanted to know about social media and how it has impacted what I do, but nowhere did it say that it would share the results. An oversight perhaps… But then I realized I have received emails from this organization before – emails trying to sell me reports. I didn’t take the survey and I asked to be removed from their mailing list.

I receive many emails asking for input on surveys. And I respond to most of them. Especially the ones that offer to share the results. Few of them offer a prize. They do provide an opportunity to actively participate in the community and to learn about what others in the field are thinking and doing. As a communicator, there is value in this for me.

In my opinion, these people didn’t target their audience. They didn’t take the time to research or think about what would drive communicators to take their survey. I am pretty sure an iPod Shuffle didn’t make many people sit up and take notice. And by not offering to share the results, I think they really missed their mark. We share by nature, we’re communicators. It’s in our DNA. They didn’t speak to who we are.

It is crucial to know your audience – to realize what motivates them, inspires them, and engages them. And to do that, sometimes you have to remove yourself from the equation and identify what matters to them.

I realize that this sounds very basic. However, it is a step that gets missed far too often. And by missing this step, you head down the wrong path.

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