The more you understand about your audience, the better prepared you are to try to communicate with them. The answer is empathy. That’s right. If you offer a wine connoisseur a certificate for budget beer they might just sneer at you. If you offer a vegan a plate of BBQ Ribs they just might throw up or launch into a rant on animal rights. If you buy a construction worker a tie for Christmas he might look at you cross-eyed unless he is an avid church-goer. These obvious faux pas are completely avoidable if you consider the perspective of the person. Empathy will allow you to not only speak the language of the customer, but speak to what matters most to them. Here’s where to start:
- Know what they care about.
- Know what their challenges or frustrations are and what problems they need to solve. This is part of understanding their reality.
- What do they feel knowledgeable about? Seek common ground. How can you inspire or impress them if you don’t have a clue what they know about?
- See the world from their perspective. What are their values? What are their attitudes & interests?
- Where do they turn for trusted information? Identify their favorite sources and where they like to hangout both in the real world and online. Like more than 50% of Americans, are they doing many of their Google searches on their smart phone?
- What drives a final decision or commitment? Are there obstacles in the way? What motivates action in your targeted group?
Your Audience: Adventurer or Survivalist?
In my childhood, a cheap resin plaque was a centerpiece in our kitchen. It was a tip of the hat to Mary T. Lathrup’s 1895 poem “Judge Softly”. It suggested that you walk a mile in a man’s moccasins before judging him too harshly. As a child I imagined exploring the forest, riding horseback and swimming in rivers whenever I wanted in those moccasins. Moccasins, to my creative mind, meant inevitable adventure. As an adult, my world view is not nearly so innocent. I consider struggling through frigid winters in a teepee and surviving the life or death reality of an open prairie among other vivid imaginings.
“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
—Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
So the shoes don’t really tell the whole story. Although sizing up a person’s shoes can tell you some about a person’s personality traits, according to Scientific American, that truly only scratches the surface. To connect with an audience you really must dig a bit deeper.
Empathy is placing yourself in the shoes of another. To effectively communicate any message with your target audience, about your business or organization or any topic at all, you MUST put yourself wholeheartedly in their place and see their world through their eyes.
The type of career your customers have can give us clues on how to best reach them by “talking their language”. MayeCreate Design, a design firm in Missouri, provides a terrific example of how your communication style might drastically vary based on the type of work your target audience does. Essentially it is far more effective to speak in a way that your target is comfortable with. This way the group will naturally be more receptive to your message. To do that you must know them better.
How, you might ask, do you find out these crucial bits of information? The simple answer is that you ask them.
Contact Creative Presence today to schedule a meeting to discuss how YOU can get to know your customers— both current and potential— better.