This is the last article in my series on “Know Your Audience.”
You get super close to your audience when you speak the same language. A language that may almost seem foreign to those not in the circle.
Fitness for example. I used to own a gym and we’d talk about…
- Getting ripped to the gills
- High intensity
- Forced reps
- Drop sets
Or with online business…
What’s the language of your audience?
If you don’t know then….
#1 Buy Their Magazines
Mags are current and relevant. The latest jargon and idioms are used.
#2 Read Their Books
Yes, this take more time, but you get to the heart of the audience. Magazines are great from a surface point of view. Books are great to increase depth perception.
#3 Listen to Their Speakers
These should be people from within the industry. Folks who possibly create the language.
#4 Join the Masses
I feel it’s easiest to write and speak to people I have a bond with. It’s much easier for me to speak to a business group than a physicians group. Business is where I spend my time. Where I invest my money and energy. So naturally it’s the place I feel most connected.
When I speak to a group of business owners I do so as a fellow owner – not simply as an employed speaker. I know the language and can speak it naturally.
When I share stories, examples and points using common language the audience gets that “he’s talking just to me” feeling. Which is the goal of this entire series, right?
Warning: Don’t just pull some terms and slide them in. You’ll come across as fake and insincere. Make your use of language as organic as possible and you will know you’re audience and they will know you.
Every single one of us has the conversation that takes place in our head and the actual words that we say out loud.
The secret to really knowing our audience is to know their secrets and to know their dark truths.
Let’s take fitness for example. If you asked someone why they are working out, why they are trying to lose weight, they will often tell you they’re trying to get healthier. But is that really true? Is that the secret reason? What’s the dark truth behind their workout?
Even though part of the reason for getting fit is to be healthier, the real reason is often appearance. We work out to be more attractive. We do it so others will ask us what we’re doing to get in shape. We run all those miles in the hope of creating a little jealousy.
Of course, we will never admit that. It’s our secret. It’s our dark truth.
Secrets and dark truths can connect and bind you to an audience like nothing else.
Number 1: You say out loud what a majority of the audience is thinking.
People often feel that their thoughts are illicit. They are embarrassed by their dark truths. They are hoping no one ever figures out their unknown thoughts.
And yet here you are, right out in the open, admitting that you share the very same secret. They instantly find out they are not alone. You and your audience become instant friends.
Number 2: Openly sharing a secret means you can be trusted in other areas as well.
Most speakers and writers try to make themselves look good. When you purposely admit something “damaging” you prove that you are like your audience, not above them.
People automatically put you in their heart and mind as trustworthy.
Number 3: A shared secret means a safe place.
When we live outwardly one way, but inside feel another we become scared of others learning the truth. When YOU openly reveal the truth then you make it safe for others to admit they are in the same situation.
Number 4: The person who shares the secret is often seen as the person who has the best solution.
We share secrets openly once we are PAST the issue right? It’s safe because we overcame. We can share embarrassing situations once we are not in them anymore. And anyone in the audience who has the same secret wants to know what you did to overcome it.
You don’t have to be an expert, a doctor, famous or anything close. If a friend said he lost 50 pounds you’d say, “Wow! What did you do?”
Then you’d think… I wonder if that would work for me?
Then you’d spread the word… “Have you seen Fred? He lost 50 pounds!”
Your friend would ask, “How did he do that?”
You would retell Fred’s story. And you wouldn’t add any disclaimers such as, “…but he’s not a doctor.”
Results trump credentials (more on this in another post.)
What secret do you share with your audience? How can you reveal it? How can you show them the way to solve or heal the dark truth?
Had an unexpected trip and needed a car.
Car rental agent (CRA) : We are out of cars.
Me: Are you sure. Can you call?
CRA: (Calls Bob) Hey, are we accepting walk ups?
Meanwhile I was on the rental company’s app and made a reservation.
CRA: Sorry sir, but there are no cars. We are not taking walk ups.
Me: But I just made a reservation.
Turned my phone to show him.
He said several, i mean several bad words in his head and stared at me.
CRA: Bob, its me again. This gentleman just made an online reservation while standing here.
CRA: Well, sir, it’s your lucky day.
Ten minutes later i was off in a mom mobile – better known as a mini-van.
Yes…. at 5.5.5. I realize it’s ironic I am writing an article on growth.
So this is not about physical growth, but self growth.
It’s easy to stay where we are because it takes no effort. No strain. No pain.
Growth requires intention. Movement. Direction. Discipline.
It’s not accidental.
Children growth because of nutrients, love, affection, education and more, right?
It’s not a mystery. There’s no secret.
As adults the temptation is to rest and enjoy what we’ve worked for. Instead we need to keep pushing. Keep going. Keep growing.
How do we grow?
Decide > Learn > Act > Evaluate > Adapt > Adopt
Decide on the destination. I think about this as your mission.
Learn what it will take to get you there.
Last night Gary Key said, “Learning gives us the knowledge to ACT in the direction of our MISSION.”
Act. Thinking is theoretical. Action is factual. People will tell you all the time they are thinking about doing _______. But it’s all smoke until the steps are taken.
Evaluate. Everything we learn does not translate into perfect results. Take the results you get and decide how well the action worked.
Adapt. Make the changes needed before taking the next step.
Adopt. When something does work the way you planned then adopt it. No need to change it right now. Just keep doing it for positive results.
That may seem overly simplistic, but it works.
Examine your life today.
David likes Mugshots hamburgers. Knows the lyrics to every 80’s hit. Is down from 463 to 412 pounds.
Carrie’s favorite color is orange. Has 3 girls and a boy. Can rock a stage as a speaker like nobody’s business.
Chances are good you did not know about Mugshots or the color orange simply because you don’t hang out with David and Carrie. You’re not friends.
All sorts of words are used to describe relationships… colleagues, associates, co-workers, partner, acquaintance, etc. But those are terms of distance. Words that show you know people, but you don’t KNOW people.
Since we’re looking at KNOWING your Audience, lets take the relationship deeper. Get to know them as friends. Go beyond the shiny surface.
Hang out with your people. Spend time with them. Become their friend. Here are three of the easiest and best ways in our hyper-society…
It’s no accident that you “friend” people on Facebook. Folks love to share their lives. Often they over share.
Don’t just stalk. Interact. Use “likes” and comments to show your engagement and to further conversation if needed. Later on, as you get to know your audience, you can ask about their children, work, events, etc to show you you’ve moved from another name on the list to someone who actually cares.
While it’s easy to spend too much time in forums, people do tend to ask a lot of questions and even rant in forums.
It’s a more emotional medium than Facebook as well. People feel they are in a trusted arena. Facebook is broad and forums are narrow. The focus of a forum is usually related to a specific topic, so folks feel more comfortable saying what they really mean.
Again, interact. Answer questions. Give advice. Private message if the conversation requires more privacy.
#3 Face to Face
Whether you share a meal together or meet at an event, getting face to face is the most important connection.
You get to see expressions. Hear the tone of the words. And you certainly feel the emotion of the moment.
With each of the encounters answer the following questions…
What are the recurring conversations?
What are the recurring problems?
What are the recurring dreams?
The answers will help you know your audience at a deeper level which helps you engage far below the surface.
My boys and I love Waffle House.
Maybe it’s the golden waffles.
Maybe it’s the bacon.
Maybe it’s the risk associated with less than stellar health ratings.
Regardless, we talk, we laugh we have a blast.
That’s usually what happens when sharing a meal.
So here’s the suggestion… take your audience out to eat.
Reserve a table for five. Then tweet or post or email or podcast an invitation. The first four to reply get a seat at the table. You pick up the tab.
Begin by having everyone give a self-introduction…
Where they live.
What they do for a living.
Ask four questions during the meal…
#1 What was your favorite thing to do as a child?
#2 What event shaped your life more than any other?
#3 In five years where do you want to be?
#4 What’s your biggest challenge with _______?
The blank in #4 is your main topic or market.
Most of the time we sit around trying to figure out what’s happening in the hearts of audience. Just take them out. Ask a few questions. Stop guessing and imagining. Get to know real people.
P.S. This is the third article in the Know Your Audience Series
My mom turns 70 today!
For most of my time at home she was a single
parent. I was a mess. And they had not
diagnosed or medicated whatever it was
But she worked hard. Supported me and my
sister, and I look back with a lot of smiles and
One of the biggest reasons for my success
is because of mom’s complete bias. She
always pumped us up. Always told us we
could do anything. Always said we were
the smartest. Always cheered us on even
when we were losing. Always comforted
us when we failed. Always celebrated with
“I knew you could” when we succeeded.
Here’s to you mom and other moms
around the world who keep encouraging,
building and shaping!
We’re more alike than you think – you and me…
I watched cartoons as a kid on Saturday mornings – how about you?
I remember climbing trees and my mom begging me to come down and bring a switch with me! How about you?
I remember opening the cereal box from the bottom to get the prize – how about you?
I remember my grandfather taking me fishing – how about you?
While those may not be exactly what you have experienced I bet you had a trigger or a link to a memory.
That’s the power of a universal story.
Shared “like” memories that help people feel connected.
We engage our audience at a deep level when they feel we are similar. And since we’re all human we are.
The posts, podcasts and presentations we dislike the most are often those where the person comes across as superior. Mom always said, “Nobody likes a know it all.”
In my experience, there are five ways to create a common bond through universal stories:
Hey! We were all kids once. And most kids were the same…
Playing with toys.
Children are innocent. Fun. Precocious. Honest. Alive.
Stories from childhood deliver warmth and security.
Fireworks on the 4th.
Thanksgiving turkey gone bad.
And everyone seems to have a Cousin Eddie at Christmas.
Or how about the family trip to Disney.
You might think Disney doesn’t count since everyone has not been. But people are familiar with the images. They feel the fun even if they have not been there personally.
We’re not just tapping into common experiences; we’re tapping into the memory bank even if it was created from movies, photos or even Facebook.
In the first article in this series, Know Your Audience, I hit burgers, pizza, bacon. I could easily talk about peanut butter and jelly as a kid and most people would immediately click with that.
Also, what about strange “delicacies” only your grandmother made? Almost every family has some odd or special meal they eat together. Again, the story doesn’t not have to be identical, just universal.
And since all of us EAT… guess what? Food stories bring smiles and a watering mouth!
This one is tough and you have to be careful.
When I talk about the passing away of my first wife, Sherri, people feel it. They connect with the emotion of loss. Almost all of us have been touched by death. It hurts. It’s painful.
When we tell stories of success everyone cannot relate. When we tell stories of loss everyone can. Suffering is a universal thread in humanity.
Take care when you share. Everyone wants to see the wreck – no one wants to see the blood. Remember that your audience is not your therapist. Your goal is to tell a connective story, not to solicit sympathy.
#5 Self-deprecating humor
I use a lot of short jokes since I am 5.5.5., or 65.5 inches. In three generations… my grandfather, mom and myself – none of us have ever seen over the top of a steering wheel!
As long as the humor doesn’t come across as insecurity, you can build massive good will and connection. No one laughs with an enemy and when people are laughing WITH you, you end up with a room full of friends. You get an audience who feels like they know you and you know them.
What universal stories do you currently tell? What new stories do you have? Take the five experiences above and list at least 3 stories beneath each one.
People who know me don’t have a hard time gifting me…
- 5 Guys Burgers and Fries
- Coke Zero
Pretty basic. Simple. Yet specific.
But when you don’t know someone, you gift generically. You go broad. Gift cards to places like Target. Because just about everyone can find something they like at a store like that one.
To engage your audience you have to know your audience. If you don’t, you…
- Write broad.
- Speak in generalities.
- Hope to connect.
When you KNOW, then your people get the “it feels like he’s writing/speaking just to me.”
So how do we get there? How do you get to know someone?
1. You share “universal” stories.
2. You eat together (and you do not have to like the same food).
3. You hang out.
4. You tell secrets and even dark truths.
5. You speak a common language.
We’ll cover each of those in coming articles and podcasts.
For now – think about your audience. The people you write to. The people you record for. The people you present to. What are their lives like? What are they hoping you will do for them? What are their hopes, their dreams, their struggles?
Notes from Platform Conference
Ken Davis just finished his keynote called WOW!
WOW is Pretty, Practical & Personal.
Under personal, he said… “Be You.”
Yet often we look to someone else to imitate.
Why do we do that?
Here’s my guess…
Deep down we all want to be accepted as we are. We want people to love us as we are. But… we fear rejection. So in an effort to be accepted we find someone we accept and others accept and we try to duplicate him or her.
Here’s why. You have knowledge, insights, passion, experiences inside YOU that others want to duplicate.
“I’m not special.”
Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be special, you have to be you.