The average person receives between 100-120 emails a day.
The average person bounces between seven different social networks per month.
The average person sees around 10,000 ads per day.
The average person sends 72 texts per day.
The average millennial picks up the smartphone 150 times a day.
You may be looking at these numbers and wondering how to communicate your message when so many other messages are vying for your audience’s attention.
The truth is that consumers today are well connected. Between social media, email, videos, texting, podcasts, mailers, and TV, communicating your message to your audience may feel impossible. Why? Because we live in a noisy world where the average human attention span is 8 seconds.
We live in a world of information overload.
How can you connect and engage with your audience as an influential leader? It begins with Strategic Communication.
I define Strategic Communication as “Intentional communication that advances an organization’s goals and is specifically aligned with the mission and vision.” The goal? To engage our audience through intentional communication.
The key word here is intentional. Gone are the days when we could just post on social media and get 1,000 likes. We can no longer use social media just to share about our upcoming events, podcasts, products, services, etc. Instead, we have to be strategic, purposeful, and intentional.
How do we do this? Here are five strategic steps you must take before communicating with your audience, both offline and online:
- Know your audience: You have a specific target audience, even if you don’t know it yet. Yes, we would love to reach everyone, but the truth is, if we try to reach everyone, we will reach no one. Why? Because our messaging will lack focus and clarity. When you try to reach everyone, you end up creating scattered messages meaning there is no unity. Step number one is getting super clear on who your audience is.Your target audience consists of many different factors:
What are the demographics of your audience? Age, race, ethnicity, income level, marital status, education, and employment?
What is the psychographics of your audience? What does your target audience value, and what are their personality characteristics, beliefs, goals, interests, habits, and lifestyle?
If you want to successfully connect and engage with the people you’re called to reach, you must know who they are at an intimate level. Research, dig deep, and create an avatar that shows and describes the person you aim to reach and serve.
- Know how your audience communicates: Once you know who your audience is, you can research how they prefer to communicate. You may want to focus on serving Millennials, but your communication has been face-to-face interactions and phone calls, which is what Baby Boomers prefer. If you feel called to serve Millennials, you must know that they best communicate via short messages and texting.
Knowing your audience’s preferred communication method will allow you to connect and engage with them in new ways!
- Know the preferred learning methods of your audience: We’ve all heard the importance of differentiated instruction, where you tailor your teaching to meet individual needs. This can include visual and/or auditory learning. But, if we want to connect and engage with our online and offline audience, we have to go deeper.
It’s been said that GenXers want relevancy while Millennials want interaction, and they want it quick. Knowing your target audience will help you create messages that engage your audience. For example, suppose you are reaching GenXers. When you create posts and/or videos for online consumption, make sure that it’s relevant to who they are and the obstacles and challenges they are navigating in life right now. If you are reaching Millennials, make sure that you allow them to interact (think through small groups, group chats, FB Live videos, etc.) and share your message “quickly” (meaning, don’t spend 5-minutes on a video sharing small talk when they want the meat of the message quickly).
Knowing the preferred learning method of your audience will help you connect and engage with them at a deeper level.
- Know that consistency matters: The key to success is consistency, which is true for you too. If you’re serious about connecting and engaging with others, you must be consistent with your online and offline communication.
If you move forward with social media, you have to take the time to create engaging content that will connect with your audience. You have to put a plan in place. What stories will you share? Whose stories will you share? What videos will you create? Who will be involved?If you move forward with offline communication, you must be consistent. What will it look like? Who will be involved? When will it happen?
In a world filled with lots of noise and information, the one thing people are looking for is consistency. Creating a strategic communication plan will help you move forward with consistency. Why? Because you’ll know what direction you are heading in, rather than just implementing something and hoping it sticks.
- Know that systems will impact your results: If there is one last piece of advice I can offer, it is this: have one communication point person. Creating and implementing a strategic communication plan will require that you have a point person who leads this endeavor rather than adding this to the job description of someone else or trying to do it all yourself. Communication can no longer be an afterthought. Connecting with your audience will require that you have someone who can put systems in place that allow consistency around messaging, voice, brand, and mission. If you have no systems in place, your communication will be chaotic and inconsistent. If you have systems in place, your communication will be clear and consistent.
Excellence in communication begins with a strategic communication plan!