Sunday, December 15, 2013

3 Questions About Your Audience

The following is a rudimentary approach to developing communications. I have seen many copy decks cross my desk that simply don't start with the audience in mind. Often copy sounds like one employee talking to another employee. Full of acronyms and jargon. So start by asking these three questions:

Who is your audience?
Ask yourself this when developing any communication—to whom am I communicating?

The answer will inform you as you plan, develop, design and edit. 
Become objective enough to become one with your audience.

The audience for a brochure, for instance, needs a direct approach, with content relevant to their experience and understanding.
The task is to communicate with someone, not to someone. Success lies in the subtle difference of those two simple words, it all comes down to relevance.

What is relevant to them? 
Often nonprofit communications alienate their audience with the same jargon you might hear in staff meetings. You audience most likely is not attuned to it, keep language direct and "you" centric.

Everything you know about your topic does not have to be conveyed. What is the one main take away you want your audience to absorb? Truth be told, they probably won't absorb more than one main message.

What do we want the audience to do?
Don’t count on your reader to do the right thing. It is important that you are explicit in your direction. If you don’t ask you don’t get! 

A clear choice, with a benefit that is relevant, now, makes it simpler to take action.
  • Do you want them to write to their congressman?
    —Ask them to do that. 
  • Do you want them to give generously?
    —Ask them to do that. 
  • Do you want them to attend an event and bring a friend?
    —Ask them to do that
Keep the choices few, clear and easy.

Your message checklist:
  • Audience focus—not a focus on the organization
  • Content relevance—the audience should feel involved
  • Clear call to action—a simple way to act
  • Gratitude and appreciation
Three questions frame your message and four simple guideposts act as your outline. Let your message do the hard work for you.


© Copyright 2013 Guy Arceneaux  All rights reserved

Managing Your Creative Teams

There is no real secret to managing creative teams. 
There is a right way to support them and that is what many managers miss. Let us first toss out the myth of the creative person's personality.

I have often been surprised by management types that think there is some secret to managing creatives—they hint around about creatives. They are different and have special needs don't they?

Admittedly, creating dynamic campaigns, headlines and stunning visuals is a unique and separate skill set from say building a spreadsheet analysis of audience segment touch points.

My experience is this—creatives need room to explore, room to make some mistakes, all without judgment. Most creatives I have worked with are very hard on their own output. They work best in an atmosphere that allows unfettered visualization and vocalization.

The optimum creative process is this:
  • Develop a creative brief
  • Pick the creative team (a writer, designer, web site developer)
  • Hold a kick off—establish the goals, timeline, and background
  • Allow the team to set up their own creative brainstorm sessions
  • As creative director, it's up to you to set a review meeting
This is nothing new
It is a time-honored process practiced by agencies all over the world. I am convinced that it can be used in any number of work environments—nonprofit as well as for-profit.

Your organization will be better off if you encourage and nurture a creative culture. When it comes to creativity, constraints are a plus, allow it to blossom with a purpose.

If you want to receive a diagram of the creative process, e-mail me at: