If you are in the business of communicating with people, you’ve no doubt heard the advice to “meet people where they are.” Designing effective communications requires an audience centered approach. Narrowing the focus of persuasive promotions will result in tactics that are more likely to influence the choices of our target demographic. I’m sure you segment your audience until you have a well-defined group in mind.
As it turns out, “meeting people where they are” can be much more dynamic. By developing a representative character, or persona, who represents a real person in the target audience, the communications become more creative and engaging. We can be more effective in speaking to people’s hearts as well as their heads. Thank you, Ideo, for this valuable insight.
Ask yourself a few questions:
- What interests them? What do they care about?
- When in their day are they most interested in conversation?
- Who do they trust? What does their social network look like?
I recently used this process with my clients at Metro Vancouver. We’re working together to solve a nasty, and largely invisible, problem: toilet abuse. After considerable research, we now understand that a segment of the population are flushing wipes, which are wreaking havoc on the sewage system and ultimately compromising regional water quality. Gross.
Here’s who we’re after:
Susan lives on her own in a condo. She works at an office and leads a fairly quiet lifestyle. At 50, Susan is watching her money as she thinks ahead to retirement, but likes to treat herself to products that make her feel youthful and pampered. She cares about the environment and her community, but doesn’t seek out extra information about sustainability issues. She’s a quiet conformer.
- Who does she trust: friends, family, local news
- Where does she get information: women’s magazines, TV news
- When is she most likely to be receptive: at the store, at home
- Why does she care: fear of embarrassment in her shared building
Our communications strategy will be designed to reach Susan, which is far more inspiring than designing to reach the segment she represents: women 45-65 who are in the contemplation/preparation stage of change, living independently in multi-unit residences with an average annual income of $50,000.
So, go ahead and thin-slice your target audience – have fun with it. But whatever you do, test your approach before you hit print!