My colleagues and I preach the importance of “knowing your audience” all the time. We believe it is a critical component of persuasion. But knowing your audience requires knowledge on multiple levels, beyond just the individual.
Here is what I mean…
if you are pitching someone on your product or service, and trying to sell them, you need to know your product inside and out. You know that as well as I do. And many of you probably also are pretty good at figuring out a bit about the person you are pitching… Who they are, what they are like, questions they might ask, things they might care about. Any decent sales person will take the time to get to know as much as possible about the person they are selling.
But there is another layer to the “know your audience” concept that, in our experience, many people miss. All of us are influenced by the organizations we work for, the people above of us on the org chart, and the business realities of our business. If I am working for an organization that is enjoying explosive growth, that reality will influence me in a certain way. If I am working for an organization that just had a major, public failure, that will influence me in another way. If my organization is in an expanding or a contracting industry, I will be influenced accordingly. If my company’s stock price has been flat for four years, especially when the market has rebounded strongly, that will certainly influence me as well.
You get the idea… Knowing your audience means more than just learning about the individual. Knowing your audience also means trying to understand the market or organizational forces that will absolutely impact the individual you are speaking to.
Know your audience, on as many dimensions as possible. During my preparation, it is not uncommon for me to spend 75% of my prep time trying to get to learn as much as possible about the audience. It is more than time well spent. It is time BEST spent.
Have a great day.