Who Needs to Hear Your Message

April 25, 2017

Who Needs to Hear Your Message

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In 2014, Anthropologie began posting summer drink recipes on social media, accompanied by fun, fashionable images. Here’s the thing, though: Anthropologie is a clothing business, not a drink distributor. Despite having nothing to do with clothes, the posts were wildly popular, and Salesforce.com cited the campaign as one of the “30 Most Genius Content Marketing Examples of 2014.”

“People pay attention to messages they believe will fulfill their self-interests,” write Laurie Wilson and Joseph Ogden, authors of Strategic Communications: Planning for Public Relations and Marketing. “Individuals do not pay attention to mass messages. . . . Target them specifically with the messages that will appeal to their specific self-interests.”

If you really want to reach your audience, then you need to know who they are and what they want. Are you writing to 60-year-old rose gardeners? Millennials who worship tech? Skaters with an eye for body art? Each one will respond differently to different content. A good approach to determining who your audience is includes getting the 411 on your customers’ demographics and psychographics, finding out what messaging styles are most effective, and pinpointing why it’s important for your audience to hear this message. Whether you’re writing social media posts or drafting articles, figure out who’s viewing your message before you put pen to paper.


Do Your Research

When you truly understand your audience, you know where they spend their time and when they are most likely to engage with your ad. It takes demographic and psychographic data to get a good grasp on the identity of people who will be receiving your message. Demographics are logistical features of a population, which can include the following factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income
  • Occupation
  • Religious affiliation
  • Sexual orientation
  • Number of family members

Psychographics are other, more personal attributes and perceptions you should be aware of, including the following:

  • Lifestyle (rural, urban, spender, saver, etc.)
  • Daily habits
  • Favorite brands
  • Values

You can grab psychographic data through a variety of research methods, such as surveys, interviews, and social media monitoring. When monitoring, you should use a tool that can identify differences and commonalities among customers and those who are talking about your brand or industry, including what they click on your site.

Once you’ve gathered this data, combine it with your demographic understanding and get to work. “The combination of both sets of data starts to form your buyer persona—a detailed picture of the people you work with now, and would like to work with in the future,” says Hubspot contributor Alisa Meredith. This information can help you know who and where your audience is so you can identify the best methods for creating and distributing messages. When you know the people behind the purchases, you’ll understand what they care about, how they feel about your product, what their pain points are, and what might resonate with potential customers.

Find Your Style

It’s time to stand out. Using your demographic and psychographic insights, consider what style of messaging your audience will respond to best. You might need to play Sherlock Holmes via social media monitoring to investigate how customers are responding to competitors’ messages, analyze what previous content has performed well, and see what successful messaging trends companies are currently using (such as incorporating specific graphics, relating to current events, or using new terms). Whatever you find, you want your style to stand out from the crowd.

“Style” encompasses quite the laundry list of elements, including tone, voice, images, sentence length, jargon, calls to action, endorsements, etc. Essentially, you’re using messaging as another way to express what your brand is and why customers should care. Just be sure you don’t assume everyone needs your product or service—that’s a quick way to turn your audience off and ignore the opportunity to target your messages effectively.

Fulfill Your Needs

We’re not talking the neediness level of an old boyfriend or girlfriend. Think more along the lines of knowing what your brand needs and how you’re going to get it. What is the ultimate goal of the content you’re creating? What do you want customers to do? Identifying the goals of the message is the only way to ensure you’re doing all you can to get customers to act. These needs can include

  • Purchasing a product or service
  • Reading a blog post
  • Engaging with social media
  • Spreading the word
  • Attending an event
  • Visiting a website
  • Offering feedback
  • Traveling somewhere
  • Developing positive brand-customer relationships

Before you begin creating content, it is imperative that you establish goals for what that content should accomplish. Social monitoring can be an effective tool not only in analyzing the success/ failure of those goals, but in the creation process as well. You should be paying attention to what your audience is saying and how they are interacting with your brand. Additionally, you should analyze your competition to see what they are doing well and what they are missing. Create content that fills a need your competitors have ignored. This is possible through evaluating things like keywords, engagement, positive and negative discussion, conversions, and reach.

Now think back to Anthropologie’s DIY drink posts. It didn’t matter that the posts had nothing to do with clothes—Anthropologie was posting seasonal content that its audience would appreciate. The content looked and sounded good and was targeted at its main customers: young, fashionable women. Other fashion companies looking to improve relationships with customers might look at Anthropologie and think, “Huh, they’re getting a lot of engagement with these posts. Let’s try it.”

If you’re ready to deliver messages that demand attention and serve customers’ self interests, then it’s time to identify your audience. As you determine who they are and what they want, your content will accomplish what it’s supposed to.

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