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Know your audience
by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions (www.wordconstructions.com

When communicating with people for your business, it is important to know who you are talking to - that is, who is your audience? By understanding your audience, you can make your communications clear and relevant, which makes them more effective.

Who does your business talk to?

Don't assume that your customers, and potential customers, are the only audience for your business. Although most of your communications will be directed at these people, there are others you will communicate with as well.

Which of the following are relevant for your role and your business?

    customers

    potential customers

    suppliers (this includes designers, printers, writers, lawyers, couriers, etc as well as companies that supply your goods or materials)

    advertisers

    media (journalists from magazines and papers, webmanagers, places you advertise)

    financial bodies (the ATO, lending institutions, accountants, advisors, etc)

    regulatory and government bodies

    industry groups and other networks

What are those people like?

Once you know the group of people you are talking to, you need to identify common characteristics of the individuals in that group. You may consider details such as:

    age

    gender

    occupation or qualification

    geography (e.g. rural or urban, Australia or international)

    socio-economic group

    family structure (single, family, couple, young children, etc)

    lifestyle (active or passive, social or recluse, work/school or at home)

You can gather this information by observation, direct questions, surveys and using formal research (either commission your own research or gather data from the Australian Bureau of statistics, industry bodies, networks, government departments and market research companies.)

How to use this knowledge

Once you have a clear picture of how you are talking to, you can target your communications to suit their requirements.

For instance, if you are preparing an ad to reach a group of elderly men, there is no point making it small and printing it in Teen Weekly. Nor would you use language like 'check this out' or 'SMS for more details'.

The key areas to consider when targeting your communications are:

    choice of words - use a vocabulary appropriate to the audience. If writing to University professors, use "diversification of resources and the ramifications thereof..." but that really wouldn't work for a group of primary school kids.

    use of jargon and technical terms - for most of the groups you communicate with, avoiding jargon is the safest choice, but when communicating with suppliers it may be useful to use jargon. For example, asking a designer for a 100gsm DL flyer with 3 mm bleed is quicker than asking for 110mm x 22mm piece of paper with a surrounding white space that is 3mm wide.

    tone - the choice between formal, casual, humorous and so forth is important. This is also dependant on your business type.

    focus - the way you present the information, For example, I might focus on the nutritional benefits of a breakfast cereal if writing to parents, but change that focus to the fun sounds it makes if I was writing to children.

    the design and feel of the communication. This can be as simple as colour choice, but also includes the size of fonts, the simplicity of layout and choice of images.  A photo of someone bungee jumping is great for an audience that likes adventure and risk, but probably inappropriate in a superannuation document where people need to know the company offers security.

    the medium used - this means whether you use phone, email, a website, radio, TV, magazines, newsletters, newspapers, letters and so on. There is no point spending your advertising budget online if your audience doesn't use computers or the internet.

Clear communication is critical to the success of any business, but it is often left to care for itself in many businesses. Tash Hughes is a professional and skilled writer who makes technical and otherwise boring information accessible for everyone a business needs to communicate with. Next time you need webcopy, articles, newsletters, reports or any other business document, visit www.wordconstructions.com.au to see how Tash and her team can help your business succeed.

This article is available for free use on your web site or in your newsletter.

It must be acknowledged as written by Tash Hughes of www.wordconstructions.com.au and copyright remains the property of Tash Hughes.

Please notify us of your use of this article or to request information on commissioned articles.

 

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2003 - 12, Tash Hughes