Back to Communication Basics: The Secret is Right Under Your Nose

In my very first communications class, I was taught the first step of the writing process was to know your audience. Everyone knows that understanding your audience is important, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to revisit the communication basics by celebrating the success of our fellow PR professionals.

The success of a current campaign by the American Mustache Institute, H&R Block and Millions from One is rooted in their deep understanding of their audience. Inspired by a 2010 white paper by tax professor John Yeutter, AMI launched a humorous campaign called the “Million Mustache March.” The campaign revolves around mobilizing mustache aficionados to pressure Congress to pass the STACHE Act (Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses), a $250 tax deduction for Americans with mustaches, as they make America significantly more attractive.

To energize its audience, AMI created a custom Facebook application where participants could take pictures of themselves with a fake “staches,” share their new mustache pictures and browse submissions of other mustache fans. Using the Facebook application, YouTube videos and media relations tactics, the AMI hopes to physically take on Washington with a march of mustached individuals on April 1st.  For each person who uses the Facebook application or participates in the march, H&R Block will donate to Millions from One, a charity dedicated to providing clean water for people all over the world.

While this campaign has some very interesting tactical uses of Facebook and word of mouth marketing, its genius lies in the insight into its audience’s behavior. Targeting men from 21-35 years old, the AMI and H&R Block understand three crucial aspects about their audience:

  1. What makes them listen – Because tax deductions aren’t exactly sexy, the AMI and H&R Block focused their message around the humor of a mustache. Bringing humor to a normally dry topic makes people naturally more interested in listening to what you have to say.
  2. What makes them share – People in this age group are notoriously self-oriented and more likely share content that applies to them. Using a photo booth application allowed AMI and H&R Block to use audience-centric messaging, which is more likely to be shared.
  3. What makes them act – These community members are very active online, extremely prideful of their mustaches and thrive on being part of a bigger cause. The AMI and H&R Block created a space for these community members to connect with other mustache aficionados and take action together for a good cause.

The best part about understanding your audience is that it doesn’t matter what media you use to communicate with them—knowing these three aspects of your audience’s behavior transcends the platform you use. As the tools we use to communicate change, recognizing what makes people listen, share and act will continue to be essential to a campaign’s success.

What are some of your favorite ways to better understand your audience?

 Ginny is a digital media marketerblogger and President of Boston University’s Chapter of PRSSA. She loves convincing others of the value of emerging media and teaching the non-digitally savvy to use new media strategically. In her spare time, she loves to try new foods, travel and run marathons. Find her on Twitter (@gsosk) to chat about all things digital!

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