Who is your audience? Is it internal or external?

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Defining our audience is helpful and can make the stories that we share more relevant to our target audiences.

Most organizations have external audiences of consumers (people who might buy things from you), customers (people who have bought things from you) and advocates (people who spread your message). Sometimes audience members move back and forth between the three roles. Sometimes they might be a customer and advocate at the same time.

Of course, the most successful content marketers define their audience at a much more granular level. For example:

  • Moms with young children
  • Divorced dads
  • Traditional marketers who are trying to make it in a new media world.
  • Young adults who are overweight and are looking for weight loss tips.

Did you notice who is not listed here? The people below:

  • Your boss
  • Your boss’ boss
  • The guy down the hall at the office and who is looking for a new job, but who gets to vote on new publications.

“But, but, but” you might say. “Of course my boss is the audience. He approves this stuff and reads it like he’s the audience.” Even when he’s not the audience.

Unfortunately, that’s a reality in many organizations and it can be a problem. When we produce content for internal audiences, and then present it to external audiences like it’s actually for them, the external audience – and the one that ultimately might buy from you – suffers.

Content might be unappealing, not compelling and – at the worst – irrelevant.

Sorry, bosses, many times you are not your organization’s target audience.

This can be hard to remember, understand and then ultimately verbalize to the team once you – the boss – are buying in: “You aren’t producing this for me. Who is your audience?”

That’s actually something that bosses who understand this concept ask before reviewing anything: “Who is your audience?” If you are in the early stages of getting your team to buy into your change in mindset you might even throw in a smiling “because it ain’t me.”

Sound hard? It is. Why? There are several reasons.

Some bosses are used to being right – even when they aren’t.

But perhaps more importantly, it’s hard to think about audiences that might be slightly different from us.

Let’s say I’m the CEO of a business. I make who knows how much, but a lot. I’m kind of an early adopter and integrate the latest tools right into my life. My family’s, too.

Customers of my business describe themselves as lower middle class. Many barely make ends meet, but they have spending money from time to time. Few are early adopters.

It should be easy to see that we have to see our own interests aside to evaluate content and stories against our actual audience’s interests. That’s the only way to create the most relevant and worthwhile content.

How do we get there? We need great storytellers and great bosses who empower their teams to tell organizational stories for their actual audiences that are compelling, educational and (start to) build long-term relationships.

It starts with the top.