The importance of remembering your audience

November 16, 2012

Or remembering to write a blog… (which we did forget yesterday! Profuse apologies for the delay – busy times!)

Yesterday morning, a couple of us from the team went to an ‘online marketing’ breakfast seminar. Having been to similar events hosted by the same crowd, we had preconceived ideas and expectations. As we’re from Gen Y, we figured that we were unlikely to get much out of the presentation itself (so went mainly for the networking), figuring the speaking section to be pitched at the Gen Xs that made up the rest of the audience… How wrong we were!

We were pleasantly surprised to learn at least a couple of helpful things from the 25 minute talk. Unfortunately though, I can’t help but imagine that the rest of the guests didn’t really. As the talk dissolved into the Q&A portion of the morning, from all around the room we could hear the legitimate fears this generation has with adopting the new technology and really, they still felt overwhelmed and scared with no idea where to start, even when the session was over.

Aside from the fact that when you’re taking someone’s time (either by expecting them to read something you’ve written, or listen to something you’re saying) you should deliver something of value, there were some other more specific shortfalls that we picked up.

Namely, it’s all about doing your research – and whatever you’re writing, or saying, it’s going to be just so much more useful if this stage comes first. For example, there was a section of the talk about Facebook ‘Check ins’ and encouraging your customers to ‘check in’ at your business. As we looked around the room though, most people were representing professional services: lawyers, accountants, geotechnical engineers, or people selling things online… Either way, not the sort of thing Facebook users are likely to ‘check in’ to. Despite the fact that most of the people there still didn’t know how to even “turn Facebook on”, so that whole bit went over their heads, it would have been largely irrelevant anyway.

I guess the moral I’m trying to plug home here is to do some homework on your audience! Our speaker could have inquired with the organisers a week before and got a feel for who had given a positive RSVP to come along to the event. This query would have taken only a couple of minutes, but enabled the delivery of a much more compelling presentation.

The same goes for written pieces of work… Take the time to consider who your readers are and find out a bit about them. From there, you’ll be able to gauge what they may or may not already know about your topic and what their barriers may be, so you can help to alleviate them. It sounds simple, right? One could even assume it’s common knowledge or at least common sense – but, sometimes, you encounter something that flies in the face of this logic – and it’s just a shame…

Rant over! Thanks for reading :)