5 Steps to Get to Know Your Audience

Brian Hudson

May 22, 2013

Whether you are writing, speaking, drawing pictures or sending smoke signals, your intent is to communicate with others. Your success in getting your message to resonate with your audience is to know who you are trying to reach, what you want them to know, and what they are expecting to hear or see. If you’ve taken care of those three things, you, your campaign, and your marketing efforts will be successful.

Here are five winning tips to that most important first step in any great ad or marketing campaign: get to know your audience.

  1. Do Your Homework
    Try to find out all you can about your audience before you start working on your messaging. In the marketing and advertising world, we call this our target audience or target market, and we often break it down into demographic profiles and psychographic overviews—age, gender, education, location, income, occupation, etc., etc. Just as a good journalist will understand the audience of a publication before he or she writes an article, a good marketer will do the same.
  2. Get Personal
    Spend some time trying to think like your audience. Put yourself in their shoes. What do they value? How do they make the decision to engage with a brand or not? What keeps them up at night? Asking yourself questions like these will help you tailor your message to the appropriate audience. You can also gain priceless market insight from listening to what your consumers have to say, especially on social mediums. From blog comments to product feedback, and Facebook likes to commonly asked questions, listen to what your audience has to say.
  3. Start with a Couple of Softballs
    Take the strategy of on-stage presenters, for example. A good presenter will lead with a couple of related talking points to gauge the mood of the audience. Is it a loud group? Is the tone of the room somber? Boisterous? They try to pick up on the vibe of the crowd, as you should try to pick up on the vibe of your audience. Within the first few minutes, a seasoned speaker should be able to get a sense of the audience, and modify their tone to compliment their crowd. Again, a great way to gauge your audience before launching a big, expensive ad campaign is to test the waters in the social space. Pull stats from Facebook (try Facebook Insights), Twitter, or your blog—make note of what works and what doesn’t.
  4. Know What Your Audience Knows (Only Better)
    You are an expert on your company, services, and products. Most of your audience is not—even if they’re brand evangelists, you still know more. No matter how beautiful the design or well thought out the campaign, if you present a message that is over everyone’s head with copy written at a PhD level, they’ll be frustrated and resentful. On the other hand, if the audience is up to speed, they may find your message is less than engaging. Having a sense of how much your audience knows about your brand can make a tremendous impact – positive or negative.
  5. Don’t Be the Star
    While you are touting the amazing attributes of your brand, remember that it’s not all about your company—it’s about your audience. You may be writing a blog with thousands of followers, but once your audience gets the idea that ‘it’s all about you,’ it’s time for a reality check. Yes, your audience comes to you for your expertise, products, and services, but they also want to know that you care about them. That’s why they love you – because you take the time to listen, get to know them, and cater to their needs. Once you get bigger than your audience, your audience will find someone more likeable.