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Identify your audiences

Who needs to hear your messages? Take some time to brainstorm your audiences. Each audience will have a different view of your work and what they need to hear about your efforts.

Groups to consider:

  • Partners: Those involved in your work. This includes your leadership team, partnership members, volunteers, and funders.
  • Potential Partners: Those you’d like to engage in your work now or in the future. Recruitment is an ongoing process.
  • Most impacted: Those most impacted by the issue you’re trying to address.
  • Decision makers: Those who are in a position to give you what you want.
  • Influencers: Those who can influence decision makers. Using a tool like Sphere of Influence, can help you identify this audience.
  • Implementers: Those who will make the policy or program happen.

Who has the power to give you what you want? Who do you need to persuade to make the specific policies or program you're focusing on happen? Be specific.

"When you are clear about your goal and find the right strategy, your target audience may be as narrow as a single person.” (1)(Christiano and Neimand 2017)

Not your audience. Be sure you’re focusing your messaging on those you can persuade. Your opposition is not your audience. (2)

Get to know your audiences.

Think about your audiences. What do you know about them? It’s important to consider demographic characteristics, like age, gender, race, and where they live. It’s also important to understand their attitudes and interests. Researchers talk about this is as psychographics. It helps you understand not just what people do but why. (3)

Here are some questions to ask and places to look to help you get to know your audiences:

  • What media do they consume?
  • Whose truth have they embraced?
  • What’s on display on their social media feeds? What issues do they publicly associate with?
  • Why do you think they do the things they do?
  • Who do they follow and listen to? (3)

We like the Decision-Maker Analysis tool for getting to know policymakers. It lays out a number of questions to help you figure out how a specific decision operates and how you might influence them.

  1. Christiano BA, Neimand A. Stop Raising Awareness Already. Stanford Soc Innov Rev. 2017;Spring:34-41.
  2. Spitfire Strategies. The Spitfire Strategies Smart Chart 3.0. www.smartchart.org; 2013.
  3. Spitfire Strategies. Mindful Messaging. http://mindfulmessaging.spitfirestrategies.com/. Published 2017. Accessed June 27, 2017.

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