When I sit down with a client for the first time, whether it’s for a brand strategy session or post card project, I start with one simple question: who is your audience?
This seems straight forward, but in the higher education marketing space it’s frequently not. With competing priorities of student recruitment, alumni relations, fundraising, and faculty recruitment, it’s easy to get lost in the myriad of priority messaging.
So often I’ve worked with groups who are hesitant to define a single target—concerned that by addressing one audience fully they will exclude others.
The reality of the situation couldn’t be further from that assumption.
By singling out the bullseye, you can fully address who you’re speaking to and your message will ring true—a must in a consumer market that demands authenticity. This authenticity builds trust and credibility regardless of whether you’re the target.
Need more convincing? Here are some key discoveries I have made along the way that help me stay focused.
Don’t try to be all the things to all the people
This is one of the most common mistakes I encounter.
Putting together a strategic marketing plan will help you determine who you’re talking to and how to best communicate with them.
The strategic process will also give you the opportunity to exercise through how your message, developed specifically for your target, can be successfully translated for secondary (or tertiary) audiences. It’s tough to do, but trust the process.
Don’t expect one marketing piece to do everything
Slicing and dicing your marketing materials may be necessary.
It certainly takes more effort but at the end of the day it is better to have three or four streamlined, highly-effective pieces than one massive brochure that tries to address everything.
It feels good to be recognized
Your audience wants to connect with you and see themselves in your messaging.
Think about the benefits your brand can bring to their life and clearly articulate those benefits in a way that will resonate and make them think, “hey, you get me.” That’s when you know you’ve hit the messaging sweet spot.
And when in doubt, put yourself in the shoes of your audience and channel your best Robert DeNiro impression from Taxi Driver and ask yourself, “are you talking to me?”