Your Audience is More Than One

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(CC) flickr // The Wolf

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar to you:

PR/Marketing Guy: So tell me, Mr. X, who is your company’s audience? Who is interested in what the Widget Factory has to offer?

Mr. X: Well, we consider our audience to be widget consumers, widget manufacturers, those who work in the widget industry and our own internal employees.

PR/Marketing Guy: Sounds like quite a diverse group. How will you be alerting all of these individual and distinct audiences of your upcoming big company announcement?

Mr. X: We were going to do what we always do: Blast out a generic e-mail announcement that goes to that entire group. That way, they all get the same exact message.

PR/Marketing Guy:

Frustrating? You bet. An exaggeration? Sadly, not even close.

No matter what kind of company or business you run, your audience is more than one. It is more than a singular voice, more than a single message, and certainly more than a single, insincere blast e-mail message. Yet why do businesses continue to treat their audience as a singular entity, rather than a living, growing and highly dynamic mixture of several sub-audiences? An audience within an audience within an audience, if you will.

But your company has never, NEVER had just one audience. Forget about the advent of social media, the Long Tail

effect, or any other new media notion that have helped us to better understand the scope and depth of our organization’s audiences and how to best reach them. Every company has always had multiple audiences, and now is the time that we help those who are struggling to understand this vitally important concept learn how to take the time, effort and initiative to best understand how to communicate and engage with each of those audiences.

Mr. X, your widget company has a large group of consumers you say? Then why would you want to communicate and engage with regular, everyday people via a reproduction of a corporate press release? Would that get your attention if you were the consumer receiving that e-mail blast announcement of the latest press release? Probably not. So why are you trying to communicate with one of your biggest assets in a rather insincere and indistinguishable manner?

Or for your audience of manufacturers, who presumably, have a strong understanding of the widget industry and its day-to-day minutiae, but probably don’t need to be spoken to in words such as “industry-leader,” “invigorating,” or the always-spectacular “revolutionary.” How about creating a customized one paragraph e-mail blurb for them that takes into account their high level of knowledge and understanding of your business, and actually seeks to offer information that is useful and valuable to them, rather than of value just to you. Now, that would get someone’s attention!

Each of your organization’s audiences is there for a reason: They presumably like what your company does and what it offers. So work hard to find a way to best communicate to them by taking into account their individual wants, needs and desires and enthusiastically communicating to them in a way that they best understand, communicate and will reciprocate. That’s the kind of communication I want to work toward, and I hope you will join me along the way.

For a great example of how to fully understand and communicate appropriately with each of your company’s audiences, check out this article about Dell’s social media team, which is actually it’s entire company now. Dell has a dedicated communications and social media team leading the company’s audience communications and outreach strategy, yet it has empowered employees throughout each of its distinct corporate sectors (enterprise, consumer, etc.) to communicate with their customers in the way they feel will resonate best with those audiences. Brilliant—yet incredibly simple—stuff.

So let’s work on this together. Let’s help each other find better ways to communicate with each of a company’s individual, distinct audiences. What are your ideas, goals and dreams for achieving this goal?

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