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Why You Should Start With Your Audience

Given that we’re in a digital age, with business communication largely mediated by technology, I’m going to use a funny metaphor: It’s awfully easy to put the cart before the horse. We’ve all been witness to [and yes, party to] this kind of thing…

CMO: “We need a Twitter account! Competitor X has one and they’re tweeting every day!”

Marketing intern: “Umm, sure, I’ll set that up. I have a personal one. I love to tweet!”

Chaos ensues.

And we pat ourselves on the back when we avoid that scenario by actually talking about our business goals before we undertake a new project:

CMO: Our goal for the 3rd quarter is to improve sales by 5% over last year. How can we improve the website and shopping cart experience to make that happen?

Fly on the wall in marketing conference room: Wow, they are really focused on the bottom line here! Everything has a business purpose!

Something good might happen.

As well we should. But just mucking around and blue-skying against your business goals, mission, or vision statement won’t help you hit home runs. At best, they’re going to keep your head above water.

If you want to attain a position as a market leader, you’ve got to understand your audience and their needs before you even begin the discussion about your business goals.

Whether you’re talking about overall business strategy or something highly focused on content, audience has to come first. Once you understand the audience, then you’re ready to ask: How does our business serve these audience needs? Where do we fit? What strategic opportunities do we see in this landscape?


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