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Understand Your Audience: Marketing Leaders Must Start with Who

Understand Your Audience

If you’re a CMO, or senior marketing or communications leader, your primary task is not just to communicate, but to do so in a way that resonates with your target audience and gets them to sit up and take notice. 

This means that before even considering what to say, you must first understand to whom you're speaking. In other words, start with who. Renowned author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek famously said to start with "why." An equally important approach, and perhaps the initial one to adopt, is to start with "who." In fact, the better you understand your who, the more you can perfect your why.

Understanding your audience—their desires, fears, and daily challenges—can transform the way you craft your message.

Start with "who" to make a significant difference in how you communicate.

When you deeply understand your audience, every piece of marketing, every campaign, and every communication is more likely to resonate. It’s like knowing the exact words that will light up someone’s eyes in a conversation—the kind of precision that turns general interest into rapt attention.

Key Questions to Better Understand Your Target Audience

Connect directly with customers, and ask the right questions. Here are ten powerful questions designed not just to elicit responses, but to provoke thought, reveal deep insights, and forge a connection that goes beyond superficial business interactions.

  1. Can you describe a day in your life and the role our product/service plays in it?
    This question helps you see your company from the customer’s perspective, providing insights into how integral (or not) your offerings are in their daily routines.
  2. What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?
    Understanding their challenges not only highlights how you can help but also how you can communicate your solutions more effectively.
  3. What does success look like to you and how do you measure it?
    Knowing their end goals allows you to align your messaging with the outcomes they value most.
  4. What values are important to you in choosing whom to do business with?
    This reveals what they prioritize—price, quality, reliability, or innovation—and can help tailor your engagements.
  5. How do you prefer to receive information from us?
    Adapt your communication strategy to fit their preferred formats, whether through emails, face-to-face meetings, social media, or other channels.
  6. What is one thing we don’t currently offer that you would find valuable?
    This opens the door to potential areas of growth and innovation within your offerings.
  7. Who do you view as our biggest competitors and what sets us apart from them?
    This question uncovers not only perceived competitors but also what unique selling propositions resonate with your customers.
  8. What misconceptions do you think people have about our industry?
    Addressing these misconceptions in your messaging can preempt objections and enhance brand perception.
  9. Looking ahead, what are your long-term goals and how can our company support you in reaching them?
    This helps you position your company as a partner in their success, not just a provider.
  10. What has been your most memorable interaction with our company, and why?
    This tells you what they value in customer service and interaction, guiding how you train your teams and develop customer touchpoints.

By weaving these questions into your interactions with customers and prospects, too, you’re doing more than conducting customer research; you’re engaging in meaningful conversations that build trust and loyalty. 

The Key to Effective Communication is Listening

Remember, the key to effective communication is not just about talking; it’s about listening. Active and empathetic listening helps you grasp not just the words, but the emotions and intentions behind them.

As you gather these insights, your next steps become more clear. Your marketing strategies should not only speak to the mind but also to the heart of your audience. 

The Human Element of Communication is Your Pivot Point

In a world where every marketing and communications leader is bombarded with data and trends, the one who understands the human element of business is the one who will ultimately forge deeper connections and drive growth.

To get the answers you want, start by asking questions of your WHO. Before you craft your message, take a step back and consider who you’re crafting it for. This ‘who’ will dictate the ‘why,’ the ‘what,’ and the ‘how’ of your communications. Understanding your audience is not just about selling; it’s about connecting, serving, and succeeding together.

What’s Next?

If you’d like help identifying opportunities to get to know your WHO, so that your messaging can really hit the mark, book a strategy session today. We’ll ask questions about your goals and work out whether we can help with design-led creative solutions to grow your brand and business.