Do you really know your audience? You can’t afford not to.

We like to think we have a great design, a great product, a great idea. But sometimes we fall short of success, despite our most valiant efforts to get off the ground. Why is that? Well, in short, the audience is everything. Think about it like a speech or a presentation to a client who can make you a lot of money. You wouldn’t walk into that room without knowing who is in it. What sort of things are they interested in? Do they even speak the same language? What are some subjects you have in common?

Here are some quotes that I think really speak about audience on this level:

“How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things, but how well we are understood.” –Andrew Grove

Your audience sees through the prism of a problem, or a void that must be filled. If you’re talking to a loan officer he will want to know why he should give you his money and if you will be successful because he wants his money plus interest back. If you ask your boss for a raise do you just walk in and demand money? No, you describe how your employer had a need and you filled it extraordinarily well. You’ve excelled and expanded your knowledge and responsibilities. You will have to think like a boss to get him or her on your side. You must, I repeat must, speak their language or have people who do.

“They don’t want quarter-inch bits. They want quarter-inch holes.” –Leo McGinneva

What is it they actually want to hear or see and can you give that to them? It’s not about you, it’s not about your product. It’s about what they need. Let them know that YOU know the problem and that you have just the right thing to solve it.

“Any product that needs a manual to work is broken.” –Elon Musk

So that’s why men don’t read instructions! All jokes aside though, confusion and complication is certainly not a need or want. How much will your clients put up with before abandoning the idea? The human brain is really good at doing the most efficient thing possible. You could call it lazy but it’s really a survival technique that saves valuable energy for more important, difficult tasks that may pop up.

“Put hot triggers in the path of motivated people.” –B.J. Fogg

If you know your audience well enough it will be like hooking a chocolate bar just out of my reach on a treadmill. I’ll get off the treadmill and walk around the to front to grab it. I’ll find the quickest way to get it, and as long as you don’t make it difficult for me to stop the treadmill without falling flat on my face, that chocolate is mine!

So, to make a long story short, what do people actually need or want and how can you get that to them? Don’t let audience definition be an afterthought, include it in your plans and let it shape your product, surrounding marketing materials, and sales venues. Don’t be afraid to take a serious look at what you have and decide what it is you still need to gain success. This will give you a considerable boost and you’ll be glad you took the time!

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