• Ben Smith

Horses for courses

Getting the message right for your audience

I've never really seen a horse race in the snow. I'm sure it takes a fairly specific type of horse and racer to do well in these conditions. Check out those goggles, this stuff is hard core!

It reminded me of how important it is to think hard about your audience when you develop the story that will underpin your project or strategy.

My old boss used to roll out the same learning to all of her clients and it still rings true for me:

"Match your message to your medium to your audience."

It's easy to fall into the trap of rolling out the same information you developed for your design committee, council workshop or investor approval meeting to a wider audience. There is a perception that if you can engage the arts and craft department and add some cool visuals, the story will all fall into place, without actually re-crafting your story.

Of course I'm going to say that's bound to fail. Here's why.

  • The story to date has been built around an in-depth conversation with highly aware people devoting a lot of time to it.

  • The everyday person probably doesn't care unless it impacts them. In reality, their Facebook feed is probably more interesting to them.

  • They have not sat through the meetings that got you there and they certainly don't care for the jargon you rely on everyday. So, spending a lot of time on the why is less important to them than the how, when and by who.

  • The mix of channels used for external engagement will be really different and require much briefer and punchy messaging.

So, firstly step back and work through these questions:

  1. Why would someone care about this (use the "so what?") clause repeatedly...

  2. Therefore - who is your audience and what is their assumed level of knowledge?

  3. What do we need them to understand and what information do we need back? Do you want them to complete a survey, comment on an option or just silently nod in wholehearted agreement?

  4. How can you reach them - which channels do they use and what does this mean for your message and your project timing?

  5. How do you know if you have succeeded? What activity is required to reach your KPI's?

So, next time you're looking to roll out some information that's been cooped up in a room full of technical experts, stop and think "have we got the right horse for this race?"

And what about the jockey - have they ever raced on snow before...?

If you need any help getting through this bit, drop me a note

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