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Understanding Your Audience is Music to Their Ears

I’m a big music fan. I love the way an arrangement of sounds can make you feel. I’ll spend hours scouring Spotify to discover new or lesser known artists and then adding them to carefully cultivated playlists. Occasionally, I’ll send one of these to some friends. I enjoy finding new stuff for them to hear. I always hope they’ll experience the same feeling I did when listening to a song, but more often than not, they don’t respond.

How could I be so arrogant to assume the significance I place on a piece of music will be universal? The most celebrated quality of art is, after all, its subjectivity. My efforts would be better served if I understood what each of them really likes first.

It’s a natural assumption—if I like something, everyone else will too. If I recognize its value, how could they miss it? This notion serves as the root cause for some of the biggest blunders in communications.

Most of us create messaging that markets what our businesses’ do, and why wouldn’t we? Our company provides a product or service that meets a demand, people need to know what we offer so that they can benefit from it. But too often, we market our good or service from the wrong perspective: ours.

Messaging with an internal context can leave you blind to your audience. Like sharing my music, if I don’t learn my friend’s tastes in the process, or I don’t discover when and how they tend to listen to music, then what I send them falls on deaf ears. And each time I fail in this endeavor, my voice loses influence.

Your audience can understand what your product and service is, but if they don’t see it in the framework of their lifestyle, they won’t recognize it as an essential benefit. This is exactly how someone can look directly at a social media ad, a commercial, a website banner, or even a billboard, and remember nothing about what they saw.

Messaging needs to be born from the perspective of your audience. This is harder to do, but it offers a much greater return on your communications investment. Regardless of how comprehensive your product or service is made to be, it’s never simple enough to assume everyone needs it for the same reason. You must be willing to cater your messages to a diverse audience with distinct tastes. This means targeted messaging driven by insights.

This adds a much greater efficiency to your communications efforts. Targeting an audience is a more complex process, but it’s easily managed by beginning every initiative with two simple questions:

Who is it for? Why should they care?

When you have answers to those questions, your audience will know something more valuable than what you provide. They’ll know why they need it.

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