You talkin’ to me? Target your audience and communicate with intention

Awkward. At some point or another, that word has run through all our heads in the uncomfortable moments after an unfortunate comment was made. You know that moment – the one when you’re thinking to yourself, wrong audience, hon. When your oblivious relative brings up a topic at Thanksgiving that the rest of the family knows to avoid, eliciting deep sighs and eye rolls. Or that new colleague you invited to game night humblebrags about the expensive/exclusive things they did with their friends before they moved here (sniff) while you’re thinking, no one here cares. Aside from making everyone around them uncomfortable, and a gross lack of self-awareness, what do all these folks have in common? They aren’t targeting the right audience with their messages.

How can you better target your audience? First, you need to know who they are. In preparation for our communications work, we’ll often conduct a communications audit or assessment. One of the first things we do is identify the makeup of the audience our clients need to reach. Knowing who you’re communicating with is critical to determining what your message is, how it should be communicated, and even when it should be communicated. Remember, your audience consists of more than parents. Ask yourself, how does your district engage senior citizens? How about parents of preschoolers? Or that pre-retirement demographic? How are you communicating with staff?

Next, to ensure they’re targeting their audience on the communications tools audience members actually use, we take inventory of our clients’ communications platforms. We consider the tools the audience uses to get information. Do they read local news sites or print papers? Do they post in community forums or to Facebook? We even evaluate what time of day the audience is most active on these platforms. Should you make your Facebook posts at 9 a.m. or 9 p.m.? Are people more likely open your email blast on a Wednesday or Friday? Knowing what tools all your audience members use to communicate and when they are active on those platforms helps foster engagement and makes your audience more receptive to receiving your message.

Knowing your audience and how they get news and information is critical to targeting your message to the right demographics in your audience, but of more importance is speaking your audience’s language. But just what does that mean? You need to test your messaging. Using research to test messaging can help you quickly determine what messages resonate with your audience and what their funding priorities are if you’re running a bond or levy. Sometimes, after evaluating poll results, we’ll find that what our client thought might be a winning message or priority in the community isn’t a priority at all or worse, is a liability. We’ll touch more on this in our next blog post.

And while a good number of our clients do know their audience, too many aren’t strategic and intentional about how they communicate with them. Are you using what you know about your diverse audience to target them with the messages that resonate with them on the platforms they use? A robust multipronged digital media campaign is an effective way to strategically and intentionally target your audience. Using digital media to communicate information about your district, be it points of pride, updates, or funding measure information, can be done on a small to large scale at an affordable price point while allowing you to reach multiple demographics simultaneously, with messages tailored to them.

Read more about the three T’s in our next post, but in the meantime, target your audience on the tools they use, with messages that resonate with them and communicate with intention! Learn more about how the S360 Education Team can help and feel free to contact us at You can also follow us on Twitter.