How To Understand And Reach Your Audience

April 26, 2013

Who are you talking to and what do they want to hear?

I’ve been doing this blog thing for the last four months and these are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself. I’ve written and published 54 blog posts; some I’ve loved and others not so much. It’s a lot of work and on the days I haven’t felt like staying up late to finish, I’ve wondered what’s the point. The one thing that’s kept me going is remembering I started out with a clear purpose to challenge, encourage and maximize leaders. Without this rudder I would have been tempted to give up already.

So, I’ve made up my mind to keep after it, but how can I be sure I’m reaching my audience?

Get to know them.

It’s important to remember, when thinking about your target audience, that no two of us are exactly alike. We are compelled and intrigued by different kinds of information. Even our present mood can affect how we interact with and receive information. Today, we might want humor; tomorrow, a blues record speaks to us best. Our messaging must take into consideration the multiplicity of human perspectives.

I’ve found that the “Tri-perspectival nature of human perception” is a great tool to help think about your content:

  • Normative: This perspective wants facts, objective data, and clear standards
  • Existential: This perspective is concerned with subjective information (stories)
  • Situational: This perspective is pragmatic, attracted to systems and processes

If those seem a little abstract, they did to me too. I like to think about the three concepts in terms of a human body. After all, we’re communicating with people, right?

Think: Head, Heart, Hands.

  • Head: Some people want head knowledge, facts, statistics, and normative truth.  They need more information.  They’ll connect to a brand or message when they can know how the product performs, and what makes it stand out from the competition. 
  • Heart: Other people are all about engaging the heart. They want to hear stories. They’re people-oriented. They care about experiences, motives, feelings, and relationships. This makes them much more subjective in their interpretation of the message, and has a lot to do with presentation.
  • Hands: Still other people are hands-on implementers. They are focused on effective, pragmatic decision-making and application. They get it done. These are activists who like systems and processes. They will resound with a message that is practical and envisions them in the driver’s seat.

Good communication will address each of the ways that the target demographic receives information. By delivering a message that appeals to each of the Head, Heart, and Hands, you’ll reach the broadest base of “consumers” most effectively.

Here’s how I’ve applied a tri-perspectival approach to my message:

  • Head = Challenge. My aim is to inspire growth in the lives and leadership strategies of today’s influencers and change-makers. I offer facts about family and business, speaking as much as I can as a contributor on those subjects, having dealt with them myself.
  • Heart = Encourage. I want to provide ideas shaped to encourage the audience, show them how we are alike, and reach into their experiences to bring out timeless wisdom. Everyone needs and appreciates encouragement.
  • Hands = Maximize. By giving practical tips and ways people can improve their leadership and leave a real and lasting legacy, I hope to maximize their effectiveness as leaders.

To understand our audiences the best, we have to realize that they are people—they are head, heart, and hands. People respond in a combination of all three perspectives, but usually they are partial to one more than any other. My goal is consistency across perspectives: challenge and encourage leaders in their life, leadership, and legacy to maximize their impact on the world. The challenge is to find ways to communicate my message in ways that will resound with each perspective.

Consider who you are and your target demographic. How can you translate your message to their head, their heart, their hands?