StoryPath Communications

Three Key Steps to Identifying Audience Needs

One of the most important things for effective marketing is knowing and finding your audience. When we talk about an audience, we’re talking about the people that you are trying to reach with your message. Everyone has a need – and for some, you are the answer to that need. You just need to get a message in front of them that shows that.

But before you can do that, you have to truly understand your audience and their needs. As with so many things in life and business, there’s no Magic 8 Ball to give you those answers. It takes time and effort to get to know your audience. These three steps can help small businesses and nonprofits better identify their audience’s needs.

  1. Mentally put yourself in their shoes
    What are you customers thinking about? What are they struggling with? What’s their pain? Think about what you might be struggling with if you were in their shoes. If you have more than one audience, walk through this exercise for each specific audience and take some notes. Keep in mind that the individuals within each audience are still diverse personalities, and there are going to be needs that are high priority for one person but not another. You’re aiming for a broad understanding of needs here, but recognize that there are some assumptions involved.
  2. Ask them
    This one may seem obvious, but it’s not a step that many small businesses usually take. If you want to know what your customers highest priority needs are related to the service you offer, ask them! This could be an online survey to your email list once a year, a poll on your Facebook page, or a few questions you ask when they’re checking out. You can ask what’s most important to them among the services they offer, why they keep coming back to your business, if there are any additional services they wish you offered, etc. If approached strategically, this type of survey can both assess how you’re doing and help identify your audience’s needs.
  3. Always be listening
    When you’re talking to clients or prospects, it’s an opportunity to listen and learn more about their needs. Some will tell you directly, while others might be a bit more subtle, but the needs are there. You should also pay attention to any online conversations about your business to help identify needs.
    Through these three activities, some common themes are going to emerge about what your audience needs from you. Write them down and then think about how your business can best help address those needs, as well as how you’ll communicate that you do.
    Over time, you may notice that your audience’s needs change, especially at times when the world is changing rapidly around us. What they needed six months ago may be completely irrelevant, and now they need your help with something different. If you’re listening well, you will be prepared for those changing needs and can adapt to meet them.

If you need help identifying your audience’s needs and how your marketing messages can best address those needs, contact us today to talk about developing a communications plan for your business.

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