What sort of person are you?

How well do you know your audience and what they want?

As a business, you might be in the camp which has spent countless hours in a boardroom scoping out personas and defining which segments are your best to target for purchase. Alternatively, you’re in a business where that’s either never been done and an understanding of your audience is assumed, or it was a task undertaken by a previous team, manager, or even an outside company. Whichever camp you fall into, do you believe that you’re always considering content under the lens of that audience… or could it be, just possibly, that an unconscious bias, your own perception could be clouding things?

What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.     C.S. Lewis

It’s actually amazingly easy to fall into the trap of believing that you’re speaking to the right audience for your brand, all the while drifting further from them due to the outside influence of yourself, your boss, or sales targets.

First things first, though, define a target audience. Nope, your product doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone and nope, it’s not more effective to simply “start advertising” and see what you can learn. Spend that time locked in that boardroom working this out, do your research (or ask us to help!), and make sure you have a diverse group working on the task (again, it’s about bias), including someone who is always devils advocate or the 10th man*.

After that process, go ahead and create some great content (or, you guessed it, ask us to help!) and build your organic or paid social media campaigns. Crack on getting that out there and learning how your defined audience responds… and pay attention to any other groups you weren’t expecting to respond who are getting involved.

Watch out for that moment though, where you think you’re doing a great job but there’s a nagging disconnect somewhere. Perhaps the campaign performance is lagging slightly, your preferred audience have stopped engaging, or the content produced just doesn’t “feel” quite right. Then interrogate the reason – are you really sticking to the audience’s desires and habits?

Can’t figure out the problem? You know how they say that if you can’t name the person in your friendship group who’s the “weirdo”, then it’s probably you?  Ahem, well… could be the same thing.

Are you unconsciously projecting your desires, personality or preferences on to the content being produced? Have you forgotten to put yourself in the customer’s shoes instead of your own? And more than this, are you really considering how you can ensure your campaigns are as diverse as your audience is, are you stereotyping… do all the people in your photos look the same? Are you making assumptive statements about what your readers think, want and feel? Are you boring them all stiff?!

As consumers globally are asking for more social responsibility and awareness from brands, isn’t it time you health-checked how you’ve defined your audience and how you’re communicating with them?

From where I’m standing, it seems there’s always room for improvement.

*So you want to know about the 10th man?

…if nine people completely agree that a strategy or plan is correct, then the tenth person should take a contrarian view to avoid the pitfalls of groupthink, where fatal flaws in a strategy are missed in favour of group agreement. If, for example, you’ve decided that only blonde women from Cornwall will buy your hair products, go ahead and come up with a plan based on your observations and intelligence gathering. However, before you act on that information, have an outsider examine your plans.

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