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How to Pick Your Target Audience Top Ten (pdf version)

Many communication efforts fail because they target everyone. In reality, most outreach should target a specific group of people. Make sure you can define the allies you need so that you can focus message, resources and strategy where it counts.

1. Name your “Wish List
If you could convince 130 people to embrace your message today who would they be? Why? What can they do for you? What do they think about your issue now? What are the key things they need to believe to help you? Focus on influencing this target audience.

2. Not a Popularity Contest
Unlike commercial advertising and communications, advocacy communications is usually not about raw numbers. Advocacy communications is about targeting key constituencies to influence their behavior and attitude in order to create change. Who can get help deliver your message to the target audience with the most accuracy and chance for success?

3. Find the “Friend of a Friend”
Who will your target audience listen to? Where does your target audience get their information? Who are the most influential people to your targets? Where do the target influentials get their information? Where can you reach them? Who influences the people that influence your target? Where do they get their information? And so on and so on.

4. Draw Your Target Circle
Do not begin your outreach efforts until you can accurately draw some target circles of influence around your audience. Who is in the center? What is the message they need to understand? What is the action they need to take? Each ring around the circle symbolizes an audience that can help you reach the target audience.

5. Reach into the Circle
An effective communication strategy will reach into your target audience. Be direct, never use the media if a meeting will work.
6. Message Volume
Using the target circles draft your strategy to move your message into the center as often as necessary to create change. Use multiple strategies to assure your message gets to the target.
7. Create Feedback Loops
Test the accuracy and effectiveness of your message delivery by asking friendly members of each “ring” what they are hearing? Do they understand your message? Will your target audience?
8. Adjust Strategy and Message
Communications plans are NOT set in stone. Media work is opportunistic. Change things around if your message is not getting to the target audience. Simplify your message if it is garbled. Communications plans should adapt to changing realities of target responses and opposition tactics.
9. Rinse
10. Repeat