Finding your audience

Who does the success of your technology depend on? The simple answer: customers. But there is much more to defining your real audience than identifying your target market. You must speak to many audiences to reach potential buyers. You want to persuade the buyer, but you must persuade the people who influence the buyer.

It’s common sense. Ask yourself: why did you buy that car, that phone or that brand of soap? Certainly not because you saw a single commercial or saw a particular offer. Buying decisions are influenced by word-of-mouth, perception of brand, perceived needs, “objective” research (Is there such a thing?) and many other factors. And each buyer is unique in what (information source, media and content) influences him or her to buy. This is why the concept of integrated marketing communications is the key to successful marketing communications.

So let’s break down the audiences important to marketing a new technology:

Who do you love?
Technology enthusiasts Influencers (gurus/analysts)
Technology partners Competitors
Trade media “Mainstream” Media
Current customers Target market
People in your company Suppliers
People in your company Suppliers

Most of your buyers will not become buyers because of your direct marketing communications with them. Most technology companies must address a whole constellation of audiences to reach customers in a meaningful way. Most research shows that people will not adopt your technology until they’ve heard your message at least six to eight times through different media and from different sources.

About audience I know one thing: gaining an understanding of who you wish to persuade to buy is a continuing (if you’re lucky) journey of discovery. It is this process that is the key to effective communications. Hubris about understanding other people is a buzz-kill in life and in business. Whenever you think you know all there is to know about your target market, you are in trouble.

Appealing to an audience is not trickery and there is no formula, no sure-fire pitch. At the same time, there are useful rules of thumb.

  • Don’t underestimate your audience
  • Do show respect for your audience — their intelligence, their emotions, their practical needs and their problems
  • Accept that not everybody will think, feel and act as you would hope
  • Assume that people do want to do the right thing, practically and ethically

Speak to others as you would be spoken to. To some people in business, this might seem naïve, even foolish. But only greedy people think that all people are motivated by greed. If we are truthful to ourselves, we will admit that learning—being curious—about others is the path to forming a good relationship in any area of life.

Communicating your message is not about you and what you mean—which are important to define—but effective communications depend on what people think you mean. If you want people to decide what you have is what they want, you first have to understand where they’ve been, where they are and how your technology is going to get them where they want to be, even if they themselves haven’t a clear idea (does anybody?) of where they want to go.

For technology companies, this last item is most important. If you understand people’s frustrations, problems and what’s missing from their personal or professional lives—and you see how your technology can alleviate frustrations and problems or fill a void, you will be able to begin to decide who you should be and how you should reach to these people and what set of messages will create an awareness, understanding, acceptance, purchase and then advocacy for what you have on offer.

Posted in Communicate, Communicate Your Technology

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