Why does understanding your audience matter?

The principle of good communication is to inspire a change in behaviour. The best way to do this is to know who you’re talking to and what they think and feel about that change or the underlying issue.

This assessment of who your audience is, and what is already known about them, is part of the communications planning process. It’s something you should be thinking about at the start of a project.

Your communications strategy or plan will be more likely to achieve its objectives if you segment your audience and develop audience insight.

Who and where are your audience?

Most organisations are filled with noise. Employees are busy and have limited time.

If you communicate the right message, to the right person, at the right time, using language they relate to, it’s more likely to be heard, understood and acted on.

Whilst your overall target audience might be large, audience segmentation works on the principle that there are shared characteristics amongst certain groups. These smaller groups have distinct and differing needs, attitudes and levels of knowledge, which their size makes it easier to understand. Essentially, audience segmentation is about splitting your overall audience into smaller, defined groups, to make it easier to understand how they’re likely to react to your communications.

This can help you to:

  • develop your internal communications strategy or plan.
  • assess the impact, priority and communication requirements around a piece of work.
  • review your communications objectives.
  • develop your messages and select who’s best to deliver them.
  • communicate tailored messages that resonate with specific groups of employees.
  • decide which channels to use to communicate your message.
  • understand which stakeholders can support you in communicating your messages.
  • evaluate your communications.

This understanding will increase the effectiveness of your communications by making them more relevant. If you don’t segment your target audience you’re likely to end up saying nothing much to everyone and will struggle to change behaviours.