Find your audience, define your niche

by | 25 Mar 2024

Understand your audience, define your niche

Nothing prepares you for the moment your child lets on that you’re a dag.

While shopping for some new jeans with my tween daughter recently, she piped up,

‘I don’t want jeans like yours.’

‘Oh, okay.’

Bracing myself for impact.

‘What kind of jeans do you want then?’

‘I want cool jeans.’

Oh. There it is.

It seems skinny jeans aren’t cool anymore. Shocking, I know.

Soon after, I attempted to get back into the trendy realm. Yes, I hit the shops all by myself. But as I stood in the dressing room looking at myself in expensive, flared jeans, I realised I had a pair like them 20-odd years ago.

I’d been there, done that, and frankly, I didn’t want to go back.

It was a moment of reluctant acceptance. Why was it a problem to dress like a middle-aged mum when that’s precisely what I am? Why would I even attempt to dress like a millennial?

So I returned those jeans to the shelf and sashayed my unfashionable, middle-aged ass outta there.

Today, I am writing this in my comfy, uncool skinny jeans. And I’m determined not to be swayed by a tween’s fashion choices again.

This experience brought to mind a key lesson in successful communications and marketing.

The power of understanding your niche

Many business owners and marketers spend endless energy twisting themselves to attract a broad mainstream audience. But in chasing wide appeal, they dilute uniqueness and risk pleasing no one.

True connection and loyalty stem from leaning completely into your niche – even if it alienates you from some demographics.

Plenty of skinny jeans are being marketed and sold every day, even though millennials aren’t into them. You only need to hang around the local school at pick-up time for proof of that.

Magic happens when you channel all effort into deeply understanding and serving your core audience vs chasing wide appeal.

The best brands embrace their distinct vibe with courage, knowing they fulfill a need for their audience. Think Red Bull and their sponsorship of extreme sports to appeal to their young, high-energy audience.

So, what does this mean for you?

Get clear on who you’re for

If you don’t already know your target audience, you absolutely must spend time getting to know them.

You could do this through focus groups, surveys and interviews. You can dig into the demographics of your existing customers and website visitors.

And hot tip for small businesses and budgets, AI tools like Chat GPT are incredible at helping you to create an audience avatar.

You need to know:

  • Demographic and psychographic details
  • Values, hopes, challenges
  • What energises and inspires them?
  • What objections do they have to using your service or product?

Research until you can visualise your audience, then create an avatar so you have a name and face to talk clearly to.

While you’re there, define your niche by carving out specific segments you will and won’t focus on, aligning this with the needs of your avatar.

Celebrate what makes you different instead of neutralising it. This space is YOURS to own.

Speak TO your people, not AT them

Now that you intimately know your readers and your niche, you can craft every piece of messaging to resonate specifically with them.

Deploy language they connect with.

Thread stories they recognise themselves in.

Champion causes they care about.

What about internal communications?

If you know me, you know I love internal comms. So I have to throw in some thoughts around speaking to employees here.

Because unlike external brand building, internal audiences wear all types of pants. From skinny jeans, to trackies, suits and flares.

With disparate job functions, priorities and backgrounds, how do you cut through?

Stick to the one thing connecting them – business strategy and purpose. Reach them where they are, consistently tying messaging back to their role impact.

Engagement and accessibility are key to connect with employees:

  • Use storytelling
  • Use visuals to support words
  • Share personality-driven leadership comms
  • Create opportunity for two-way dialogue
  • Always respond quickly

Accessible, engaging internal comms can transcend differences when anchored to shared mission and vision.

The bottom line

Forget playing it safe or being everything to everyone. The courageous brands shine because they play full out to a clearly defined audience built on deep insights.

They thrill a niche rather than dilute their magic trying to appeal to the masses.

So embrace your audience and inner brand voice fully – flares be damned.

The right crowd will cheer you on louder than you can imagine.

 

Aussie employees are quiet quitting en masse, with disengagement estimated to cost the country over $200 billion a year.

These shocking stats fuel the importance of internal communications to connect with and engage employees rather than simply broadcast.

The truth is, you can splash your strategy across dazzling slide decks, videos, intranet sites and emails until everyone chants the company mantra in their sleep. But if your messages don’t connect the dots in a relevant, relatable and engaging way, why should employees care?

Effective internal communication is not about playing the tune repeatedly until it’s stuck in your employees’ heads. It’s about making them want to dance to the music in the first place.

If you need to check whether your internal communications are in tune, an audit is a great place to start.

Facing up to any disconnect you uncover allows you to craft content that genuinely resonates.  

Here’s my five-step guide to conducting an internal communications audit as the springboard for an impactful strategy. Let’s get cracking.

audit internal comms

1. Map your channels

Take a little stroll across the employee communication landscape. It’s time to examine all the ways your people find out information.

Obviously, hit up email, intranet, social channels, internal events and even the kitchen posters… but look beyond the usual content pushed by the communications teams.

Are business unit leaders sending team newsletters? Are rogue town halls happening in some parts of the business? Have online communities formed around projects or interests? Dig deeper. 

Catalog every existing touchpoint to unearth hidden disconnected fragments. Like an archaeologist assessing a dig site.

Next, critically evaluate whether each channel and message authentically supports the business strategy in an engaging way.

Hot tip: Slyly rope in eagle-eyed outsiders like marketing pros or external comms advisors to validate content quality. An impartial squiz means more honesty and less smoke-blowing.

2. Analyse your metrics

Take a big spoonful of data soup.

Dive into:

  • Intranet analytics
  • Email open and click rates
  • Event attendance
  • Video views
  • Social content reach and engagement

Pick out patterns. Map the hits and the misses. Do some emails get high hits while others don’t make it through the gates?

You’ll soon get a good feel for what content works and what doesn’t.

3. Pick some brains 

So you’ve got your list of current channels and performance data.

Now, it’s time for some direct audience opinions to cement how your internal communications are currently landing.

Whip up a survey, run focus groups and one-on-one interviews with people across the business to understand your employees’ perceptions.

Ask people:

  • Where and how they source information
  • If they feel connected to the company vision and their leaders
  • What content and channels they find most useful
  • What content they tend to disregard

Engaging external consultants to facilitate focus groups and interviews can eliminate bias and assure confidentiality.

4. Study your market

Cast a cheeky side-eye at competitors and speak to peers in adjacent sectors using wow-worthy communications. Where are others raising the bar?

Explore channels and formats that set industry peers apart.

And tap people outside your bubble. What can you learn from vendor partners, agencies, consultants and conference speakers? People who cross between organisations can offer revelations.

Of course, it’s important to amplify what makes your culture distinct. But stay open-minded to piloting initiatives successful elsewhere that could translate or be tailored to your teams.

Ideas borrowed and bettered from broader viewpoints demonstrate commitment to continuously enriching the employee experience.

5. Create next-level experiences

Next, look at your findings. You may have discovered some channels firing on all cylinders alongside some gaps that need some spark.

Now is the time to get a succinct strategy down on paper.

Start by mapping out the ideal future state. What do you want your internal communications to achieve?

Now, use everything you’ve learnt to manifest the vision. 

Look for quick wins you can implement right away. Then, lay longer-term foundations for improvements that will take time to build.

Focus on strategies that map to your objectives. And sprinkle in temperature pulses to measure progress. 

Keep your research findings about your employees’ preferences top of mind, and tailor your communication strategy to meet their needs.

Establish clear ownership and a process for everything you’re proposing. Stay ambitious but be realistic given constraints like team bandwidth.

Speaking of bandwidth

I get it. The team is so busy doing the do that you don’t have the capacity to step back and declutter your communications.

As an internal communications specialist who loves to simplify complex messaging legacies, I’m happy to advise or lend outsider objectivity.

If you’re too swamped to tackle a content audit yourself, get in touch

Need another set of hands?

It’s time to craft communication that engages and converts your niche tribe into happy customers or employees.

I’m a freelance communications consultant and content writer for busy teams. Let’s chat about how I can help you create content that wows.

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