Why you should not trust Tracey to know your audience

Tracey is a communications professional and also a married mum with two kids under ten. So naturally, when the organisation she works for wanted to create a campaign targeting parents with young children, they used her to test their campaign strategy.

But the truth is that Tracey doesn’t really know mums.

She knows mums from her school, who live around her particular area around Melbourne, who are from a particular socio-economic group. She’s comfortable knowing what impacts mums that are just like her, but the truth is that not all mums are like Tracey.

Why is knowing your audience important?

It doesn’t matter how big or small your communication is – whether it is a multimillion dollar campaign or developing a brochure, knowing your audience is central.

Not truly understanding your audience can have a cascading negative impact on your communications that impacts the messages you use, the tactics and channels and most importantly- the results that you will achieve.

Knowing who you are talking to, who they are influenced by, the media they consume and what their day typically consists of is essential if you are trying to create a piece of communication that cuts through and has impact.

It is important to realise that not every communication agency or department will have the expertise in every audience. Worse yet and do not fall into Tracey’s trap of thinking that the person in your office (or communications consultancy) who fits that description is suddenly an expert on that audience.

I am a single gay male who has successfully worked on campaigns targeting dads, on early childhood health, campaigns to increase rates of breast screening for women and campaigns targeting seniors. As a communications professional you understand that your expertise is in knowing how to help your client understand and target their audience.

So how do you get to know your audience?

There are a number of ways that you can get to know your audience. Some of these can be expensive, but some need only time. Try the following ways:

  1. Define the audience – before you start any research, work out exactly who you want to talk to. Be specific as possible.
  2. ABS data – Use freely available ABS and council data to understand the size and demographics of your audience. You will be amazed how much data is readily available through these sources.
  3. Service data – Look internally at any data that you may already have about your customer or audience. This can be formal research data or information about how your audience utilise your service and/or product.
  4. Research – Research can take many forms, from simple survey monkey surveys, to nationally weighted surveys, focus groups and interviews. They are all powerful methods in understanding your audience.
  5. Observation and media analysis- Review online spaces as well as media publications targeted to your audience to understand how your audience are engaged and how those competing for a share of voice are targeting them.

So…. who is the Tracey in your office?

PS… Tracey is not a real person but the first name that came to mind. Sorry to any Tracey’s on my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I’m sure you can be trusted. Really.