When you are working on developing a robust PR strategy, one of the first places to start is to redefine your audience. Without this, you aren’t so much creating a plan as drawing up a list of tactics. This approach may work short term but will not deliver sustainable results over time.
With any other business investment, this level of ambiguity wouldn’t be accepted. So, don’t make it the case with communications. Instead set some objectives to work towards and measure against. This should then allow you to see the benefit of your efforts to the bottom line.
Targeting a mass market
The default audience for many companies is ‘mass market’. While it’s fair to suggest that some organisations have less obvious targets, redefining the audience will help to prioritise and direct efforts.
In instances where ‘anyone’ is an audience, it will be helpful to break this down and to think in characters. Before you roll your eyes, this technique can make a real difference when you put the theory into practice.
Creating characters will require an open mind and some imagination. This isn’t a case of assuming that there are three or four types of people in the world and they all sit neatly into boxes. It is about finding collective attributes which can be used to give a business greater focus when targeting prospective customers.
When you take a step back and put some thought into your customers and their preferences, you will see that each group will have similarities. It may be frequency of visit, average spend, dwell time online or in store or purchase occasions.
These factors can be used to create characters that are representative of your preferred audiences. Using a simple mapping exercise, you can allocate personalities to each grouping to focus your mind and efforts.
Consider their age, job, family model, what media they will engage with, what they like doing in their spare time and where they may live. Map this onto a piece of paper for each of the groups you have identified.
All of these facts will help you to come up with your ‘characters’. Remember, this is about mapping similarities to refine and direct your marketing and PR efforts. As such, it’s worth being as succinct as you can. Rather than having five or six groups, just focus your efforts on two or three at the most. This will stop the mapping becoming needlessly complicated.
Naming your characters
Once you have identified your characters, give them a name. Make them into a person that you can visualise, better understand and use to transform the way that you communicate as a company.
Take a name that you can relate to and even consider someone you know if it helps. Once you have named each person, put together a day in the life which can be shared with the wider team. This will encourage everyone at the business to talk in the same way and think collectively about what each audience will want.
Test and measure
Like any investment, it is important to test and measure the results. Once you have your characters, think about how you will align each message to meet with their needs – not the other way around.
It is important that everything is tailored to the audience and not to your business. Many companies get this wrong and become overtly self-promotional. Pushing out their message in a way that would appeal to them.
This does not deliver the return or results an organisation would want. In fact, it has the opposite impact, leaving people looking elsewhere for a company that will focus its efforts on their needs as a customer.
Companies should work on creating compelling content, sharing stories that resonate, becoming visible across the right social media channels and reinforcing the values of the business and quality of its products.
This will all help to communicate with those that matter most to your company; the audiences that you have chosen and can now become your focus.
It’s not always easy for a business to identify its audiences. Companies can spend too much time focusing on the aspirational at the expense of the real targets. In order to get this right, we would advise that you:
- Put in place a simple mapping of your audiences
- Identify consistencies that create collectives
- Pull together no more than three groups
- Create a character for each group
- Name the character so that they become a personality
- Decide how it would be best to communicate with this person
- Start to put a plan together that will deliver the results you want
- Test, measure, adapt and repeat