It doesn’t matter if we are selling widgets or telling stories – we want our messages to connect, and we (typically) want our audience to take action once they’ve been dazzled by what we’ve said.
Unfortunately, if we are honest – or if someone is honest with us – many of us struggle to understand exactly what it is our audience wants, or needs to hear.
We can easily get so wrapped up in trying to communicate features and benefits that we fail to listen to what our customers want or need.
Sometimes we’ve been at the same thing for so long that we need to change how we speak, or who we are talking to all together.
We think we get it, but the truth is most of us just know what we want to say.
Far too often we end up throwing a bunch of stuff against a wall hoping that something will stick. We focus on quantity, rather than quality and our message becomes the white noise of marketing we were trying so hard to avoid.
Do that for long enough and you’ve got a bigger problem than just messaging…
All that said, it is possible for us to break free from the communications rut when we unlock these three secrets to connecting with our target audience:
1. Understand what makes you different.
Start by defining The “Onliness” Statement* for you and your organization. Here’s what that looks like:
How: that (your differentiation characteristic)
Who: for (your customer)
Where: in (your market geography)
Why: who (the customer’s stated need)
When: during (underlying trend).
Harley Davidson is…
What: …the only motorcycle manufacturer
How: …that makes big loud motorcycles
Who: …for macho guys (and “macho wannabes”)
Where: …mostly in the United States
Why: …who want to join a gang of cowboys
When: …in an era of decreasing personal freedom.
This is a good exercise to do for your organization, but it’s also a great thing to think through from the perspective of an individual as well.
2. Deeply understand who your audience is and what they want.
How well do you know your audience – I mean really know your audience?
How do they consume information? Do they like bulleted lists, or would they rather read a long article? Are they early adopters, or do they wait until things are out and proven in the marketplace before jumping on board?
These are important questions to have answered if you plan to connect with someone and woo them effectively.
Consider creating a persona for each segment of your audience. The activity may take some time if done properly, but the results will guide and inform your messaging in a way you’ve never experienced before.
3. Narrow your focus.
“A brand becomes stronger when you narrow the focus.” – Al Ries & Laura Ries, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
Maybe it’s time you stopped doing some things. Maybe it’s time you took a look at the things on your “capabilities” list, and narrowed it a bit. If that concept makes you start to itch all over – start small and commit to crossing one thing off the list just to get started.
Remember, the world doesn’t need another (insert the name of the person or organization you are most trying to compete with). The world needs what you (and your organization) uniquely bring to the table – not the same thing that is already on the market, or a carbon copy of the person you most admire.
What makes you unique? What are you, and what is your organization better at than anyone else? If you can’t state it right off hand, you need to take some time and figure this out. It will be some of the most important work you ever do.
Here are some suggested action steps once you’ve committed to these concepts:
- Define the “onliness” statement for your organization
- Create a persona for each segment of your target audience
- Take a look at your “capabilities list” and cross off the things that you need to eliminate as you narrow your focus
- Consider an “onliness” statement for you as an individual
- Review your marketing / communications efforts as it relates to your target audience with these concepts in mind.
* The “Onliness” Statement was developed by Marty Neumeier, author of ZAG