Knowing the value of reaching your organization’s audience is practically common sense to any employee from the rank-and-file all the way up to top leadership. However, you might be surprised to know that many organizations including businesses, municipalities, and school districts don’t really know who their audiences are and how to properly reach them.
Who is your audience?
Naturally, your organization’s audience includes your customers. If your organization sells a product or service, your customers are those individuals and companies in your target market. For example, if your organization is a school district, your customers are your students and their parents. However, no matter what type of organization you manage, your audience includes more than just your customers – it also includes your employees, community members, and any other stakeholders who might hear about your organization, even if they don’t use your product or service.
Listening to your audience is just as (or even more) important than talking to them!
What does your audience want to hear and learn from your organization? Have you ever asked them? Without knowing what your audience wants to learn about your organization, you won’t be able to craft effective communications. Reach out to your audience for feedback about what they want to know about your organization and what you do.
There are a variety of ways to reach out to your audience. Here are just a few examples:
- Surveys. When your organization’s audience is large, a survey can be a great way to generate ideas and perceptions about what your audience thinks of your organization and its products and services. Surveys offer a great first step in beginning to understand your audience and planning your communications. However, keep in mind that surveys can only provide a 30,000-foot view of your organization. You may learn that a certain percentage of your audience has a specific belief about your organization, but surveys often cannot tell you why your audience believes what they do. For that, you will need to conduct more in-depth approaches like those mentioned below.
- Open Forums/Open Houses. Invite your audience to attend an open forum at your organization. Present the basics about your organization’s products and services, and then have leadership and other staff monitor the open house by asking members of your audience what they would like to learn more about or know about your organization.
- Key Stakeholder Interviews. The Key Stakeholder Interview Process begins with identifying a number of key stakeholders related to your organization. These stakeholders include members of your audience who love and support your organization along with those who may be critical of what you do. After identifying a group of stakeholders, typically between 15-25, one-on-one interviews taking approximately one to one-and-a-half hours are conducted. The results of those interviews are collected, collated, and analyzed to provide a comprehensive document featuring intensive analysis of the valuable qualitative data collected from your stakeholders featuring trends, specific responses, and other points of interest. The Key Stakeholder Interview Process provides your organization with a detailed plan for both the present and the future.
- Social Networking. Using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter can provide your organization a way to both talk and listen to your audience. Keep in mind that using social networks requires a time commitment as social networks are a two-way street. Your organization needs to remember to pay close attention to your social networking accounts. Reply promptly to any questions or concerns your audience may bring to your attention. If you ignore your audience’s inquiries on social networks, your audience may become frustrated and badmouth your company, or, worse yet, turn to a competitor for their services instead of using yours.
Using the above methods to learn more about your audience can provide eye-opening results and will help ensure that your organization’s future communications will give your audience the information they want in order to learn more about you and what you do.
Craft your messages to fit your entire audience.
Now that you know your audience includes a wider breadth of individuals, you can craft your organization’s message. Don’t assume your audience will know the intricacies of your organization. In your messages, make sure to clearly explain your organization’s intent, approach, and ideas. For example, if your organization or industry uses acronyms, be sure to spell out the entire acronym in its first appearance in your organization’s message – even if it appears in every message. After doing this the first time it appears in a message, you can use the initials throughout the remainder of the presentation. This approach applies to any communication which might be complicated to understand for a first-time reader. Remember: keep it simple!
Do you want to save yourself time or need help?
edTactics can help you identify and reach your audience by guiding you through any of the methods and approaches discussed above. edTactics offers free consultations where our experts can discuss your organization and what you want for its future.
Send us an email or give us a call at (800) 983-8408 to learn how we can help you become more effective at communicating with your audience!
Art Edgerly & Eric Jacobson
Co-Founders of edTactics