What is the most important attribute in business? The customers? Investors? The employees? The products or services? No! Your Audience!! Or, is it “Know Your Audience!”? Actually, it is both!!!
All these previously mentioned stakeholders have different needs and demands. Deliver the service. Maximize my return on investment. Create a more flexible workplace. Make improvements. And, they all represent the audience. Organizations must have a consistent message, but different voices for various audiences. Yes, this is confusing. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, it is necessary! Otherwise the audience will take their business, their investment, their work experience to another location where it will be appreciated. So, how do you Know Your Audience and what do you do with this information?
First, communicate. Consider your message. Your brand should articulate it. Realize your brand reflects what you actually do, not just what you say. Then, acknowledge that external audiences are primarily prospects and customers. Listen to them. They want goods or services, most likely on their terms. Recognize that they have options so upon becoming their choice, prepare to continue delivering to their explicit and implicit expectations. Otherwise, they start exercising their options.
Consider that great brands embody a set of delivered promises. Southwest Airlines have bags fly free. McDonalds is cheap and fast food. Microsoft is glitchy software that is hard to escape. Business that execute its promises will prevail. External audiences will accept them warts and all. Just don’t lie to them! Sometimes, you must say “no” to your audience. Classic Coca-Cola will never again taste sweeter! But always know your audience so that they understand why, when you say “no”, and still return.
Brand promises mean just as much to employees. When delivering goods and services employees need to receive a message that they can believably reflect to the external environment. Chick-fil-a employees are generally known to be treated respectfully. Consequently, a reasonable expectation is that their cashiers will treat their customers with respect. In turn, customers pay a little more for a chicken sandwich with a side of warm greetings. Once a business knows their employees after spending time training, then leading them, the company is better positioned to create more rewarding experiences with their external audience. Consequently, effectively investing in employees (internal audience) means that customers (external audience) will more likely choose your business to spend their money.
So, how do businesses get to know their audience? It is communication. And, it is service. If advertising Free Pie Wednesdays keeps the restaurant top of mind resulting in more traffic during Friday’s Happy Hour, then keep that commitment. If catered lunches on Tuesday incent workers to stay later on Thursdays, then create that promise and make good on it. But, once you say “no” to your audience, be very aware about the consequences. Taking away free coffee refills will cause customers to sample other coffeehouses faster than all the singing baristas a marketing director can dream up! So, know your audience. Communicate with them. Embrace why the audience, both employees and customers, keep choosing you. The result keeps business leaders from screaming “Noooo!” as that same audience heads for the exit, never to return.
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Mo Patton Sports, LLC