Put Your Audience First

In simplistic terms, there are two parts of business:

  • Building a product
  • Getting people (or businesses) to use said product

Both aspects are essential to the lifeblood of a successful business.

In my Management Communication class, we focused on the latter and learned about the different aspects of marketing a product.

Specifically, we focused on business communication. We not only read through “best practices” in the textbook, but also, and to me, more importantly, had the opportunity to test ideas and strategies in the real world through a client consulting project.

One of the biggest takeaways I have from this class is perhaps not what you would immediately expect from a “communication” class. In fact, it may be the opposite.

I learned not just how to communicate, but rather how to examine a business situation and understand an audience.  We spent a great deal of time – focused – on comprehending stakeholders that were important to our client.

This challenge was incredibly valuable.

Analyzing Problems

In business, time is our most valuable asset. How we choose to spend this limited resource often dictates our success. We are always looking for opportunities to reduce “wasted time” and move our business forward.

While time is everything, cutting down on or altogether skipping the analysis of your audience can be incredibly costly long term. It is easy to speed forward and move past this important first step ~ but it truly is essential to building a plan that works.

We often think of communication as conveying a message, but in reality it’s more about understanding what that message needs to be before you can even think about the delivery of it.

Analyzing the problem before jumping in head first can be a huge time saver that many people tend to overlook. It is important to not only dive deep into the core issues of the problem, but also to get a comprehensive perspective from all key stakeholders involved.

Understanding an audience is far more involved than reading a few blog posts. To get a well rounded comprehension of your audience, you should analyze for some quantitative and qualitative character traits. Quantitatively, you can look for the big things like age and income but also the more subtle things like one’s height or how far they live from the closest hospital. Sometimes the little things make the big picture much clearer.

Qualitatively, you can look for a far wider variety of traits. A good place to start is with the psychographics, motivators, and deterrents of the audience. From there, you can begin to better understand what the stakeholder wants, but more revealing – why they want it.

You can use these understandings to build a solution that sticks by taking into account the perspective of your audience.