When developing marketing communications plans and materials there is always the crucial “approval” phase where the decision is made to proceed. One significant challenge at this point is managing the personal subjectivity that tends to creep in. Time and time again, great communications concepts and ideas are tossed aside based on personal choices, at times undermining the potential impact of a tactic helping achieve a communications objective. Some of these may sound familiar:
- I talked to a few people around the office and some didn’t like it.
- I had my spouse look at it and s/he didn’t like this part of it.
- I showed my Dad/Mom/Grandparent and they don’t understand it.
- “I” just don’t like it.
The issue with placing credence in the above objections is often times your “audience of one” is not a true representative sample of the target audience the communications is seeking to reach. Many factors are considered in plan, campaign and tactic development including demographics, interests, product use patterns and more. In order to get the best possible evaluation on your marketing communications concepts and ideas you’ll want feedback from a solid segment of your target audience.
Focus on your audience first. Here are some points to help guide you:
- Don’t assume that your target audience uses communications tools the same way you do. For example, you may not use RSS feeds and feel the need to crush a concept using RSS, but your audience may find great value in it.
- Sit on the other side of the table when evaluating. Try not to think of the concepts and ideas from a company standpoint. Think of the concepts from your audience member standpoint. Remember, in most cases you are not the target audience.
- Stay away from people’s opinions other than your target audience. Unless your co-worker, parent, spouse or friend is solidly a part of your target audience, don’t seek their opinion as you will simply get a subjective, reactive response.
- Find means to engage your audience in the approval process. Focus groups, panels, test markets and other means are available to find out the true response of your audience to certain concepts. And new digital tools are making this easier and faster than ever before.
Bottom-line: You may be close to the work and close to the market, but don’t assume that you will react the same way as your target audience. They are often more astute, connected and discriminatory than you might give them credit for. Make the most of your marketing communications by reaching out to your customers for involvement and approval early. The impact at launch time will be well worth the effort.
Have you ever been surprised by a customer unexpectedly liking something you didn’t? If so, please share. It’s always great to learn from others.