There’s a Big Blind Spot in Most Marketing Today.
One of the biggest blind spots I see in marketing is thinking of your audience in abstract terms. How easily we forget that our audience is actually real, living people with emotions and needs and struggles. Every single person is an individual.
Don’t over-intellectualize your audience—get personal.
When you’re doing something new or innovative or visionary, the first point of reference is usually yourself. Your story. Your world. About Us. What you need to do is flip your frame of orientation.
TELL THE STORY FROM YOUR AUDIENCE’S POINT OF VIEW.
This sounds easier said than done. It’s really about articulating the deeper emotional content your audience is experiencing. How do they see the world?
Sometimes we get so caught up in our motivation to influence and persuade that we forget to appreciate our audience—to take stock in who they are, and consider how to be in a real relationship with them. This requires empathy. The more you design a story with empathy—imagining the everyday needs and interests, the inner conflicts of your audience—the better your chances that they will hear what you have to say.
In order to do this right, you’ve gotta get dirty. The best way to get dirty is to get intimate, spend time with them. Ask them questions and listen to their stories without imposing your agenda. Demonstrate that you truly care—that you’re in the game beyond your own self-interest.
I’ve been coaching a lot of clients lately on how to structure effective presentations. The first thing I tell them is to validate your audience. What I mean by that is, articulate a certain world view—a way of looking at things—where your audience goes, “Oh yeah, that’s it, me too” or “Ahhh, this gal totally gets it.” Remind them they’re right.
Validate Your Audience
One client of mine is the healthy foods company I mentioned in my last post: GoFit Foods. The guys at GoFit are going to give a presentation in front of a southern California audience of entrepreneurs. To build rapport and validate their audience’s worldview, I encouraged them to design a presentation that will speak to everyone in the room:
How many of you are obsessed with eating healthy food? You don’t leave home without having had your protein powder, green juice or coconut water?”
(Mind you, this presentation is in LA, where nearly everyone and their grandmother is restricted to some sort of raw, vegan, paleo or gluten-free diet). 3 out of 4 people in the room will likely raise their hands.
And for the rest of you, how many of you wish your loved ones (your parents or your teenagers) made better choices when it comes to the food they eat?
All remaining hands will probably go up.
Boom. Within two or three minutes, they have the entire room.
From there the presentation can talk about the challenge, problem, or obstacle, which is that healthy food so often tastes like crap. The key is to start by making your audience feel good before you introduce the creative tension.
Validating your audience is really that simple.
Time to Get Real: Making Your Story Relatable
If I tell story in a way you relate to, my story becomes your story. We belong together. And the need to persuade or convince or sell you on something disappears.
Tell a story your audience can find themselves in. Find something that resonates for them and go deep with it. Don’t talk in abstraction—find words that have charge to them, that your audience will find meaning in. No clichés, no superlatives.
No buzzword bullshit bingo allowed.
GET REAL WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
Roll up your sleeves and get your hands in the dirt.
Think for a moment:
- Who do you want or need to be in relationship with?
- Who is this audience and what do you share in common with them?
- What do you know about their needs/challenges? (Paint the picture.)
- What does their world look like? (Describe it.)
- How do you know this? How can you get to know them even better?
- Why do you care so much about this audience and their well-being? (Get personal.)
- What’s the unexpressed part of their story? (Help them tell it.)
Cracking the audience story is all about diving into this emotional content. You have to go beneath the surface to get to the real gold.