Effective Communication: Tailoring the Message to Each Audience
In the previous post, I shared how to create a charter consisting of a mission, vision, and strategy for your team(s). Now that we have achieved internal alignment, how can we effectively communicate this information to our cross-functional partners, customers, stakeholders, and superiors?
Communication is a dynamic, two-way process. To ensure successful communication, it’s essential to ensure that our listeners are both curious about and properly receiving the messages we are conveying. I’ve created a comprehensive three-stage approach to tackling this challenge.
|STAGE 1| Define the Audience Personas
Defining the different audience groups allows us to tailor the messaging of our charter to each specific audience. What are their needs? What do they care about? How can we tell them that our offerings match their needs?
IMPORTANT! There is a difference between customer & audience. Let’s say you’re a saas b2b business. Anyone at a company that’s using your product can be considered a “customer.” Just like there are various customer personas, there are various audiences within one customer company. These audiences have distinct concerns that we need to address differently.
Let’s consider a basic example of two personas within a single customer group:
- The Customer Contract Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) is responsible for managing the budget and making decisions on approving or denying contracts. This individual may or may not be an end-user of the product, and in larger organizations, they may solely look at the budget vs cost and return on investment (ROI).
- The Customer Evaluator is someone who recognizes the pain points that their team(s) are experiencing and collaborates with us to determine whether to build or buy.
While the content of a message may remain the same, it’s crucial to adapt the messaging to suit the specific audience to whom it is being conveyed. This involves understanding their unique needs, interests, and priorities and framing the message in a way that resonates with them. Effective communication requires a nuanced approach that is tailored to the diverse audience groups.
WHY? Consider a scenario where developer documentation outlining how to deploy using Kubernetes is sent directly to a CEO with a non-technical background in sales. Even though the engineers on her team understand the value of a streamlined deployment process and the time and frustration it can save, this sales-oriented CEO may not grasp the technical intricacies of Kubernetes and its correlation with time and money savings.
As we strive to create messages that resonate with each distinct audience, it’s essential to keep the following key points in mind:
- Gain a thorough understanding of each audience’s unique needs, interests, and concerns.
- Verify that our identification of their needs is accurate and up-to-date.
- Tailor every message to suit the intended audience and align with our overarching vision.
- Deliver each message using a medium that is easily accessible and understandable to the target audience(s).
|STAGE 2| Identify the Audiences’ Needs and Incentives
The second stage of effective communication is identifying the needs and incentives of our target audiences. This involves engaging with individuals from the various audience groups we have identified and learning about their goals, concerns, and pain points. By understanding how our product offerings can address these challenges, we can tailor our messaging to each group more effectively.
This process is similar to the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) approach product teams use to identify different customer groups and shape their product roadmaps. By gaining a deep understanding of audience top of minds and tailoring our message directly to address those needs, we can position our value proposition more effectively. In short, effective communication requires a holistic approach that considers not just what we say, but how we say it and to whom.
Let’s go back to the charter example for an internal platform team. Here are some examples of stakeholder audiences:
- The Executive Management team: This group employs us and assesses our ROI across the entire organization. They are also responsible for evaluating how well our charter aligns with company goals and strategy.
- Product and Engineering partners: These individuals are our daily collaborators and are primarily concerned with how platform features can save them time in their day-to-day operations.
- Cross-functional partners, such as Security and Legal teams: These teams use our platforms in a distinct way. Their main focus is on keeping company and customer data secure, and they approach the platform from a unique perspective.
IMPORTANT! It is crucial that we validate the accuracy of our audience profiles. This can be accomplished by consistently gathering feedback and confirming our initial insights into our customer’s goals, needs, challenges, and concerns. Failure to carry out this verification process could result in a misalignment with our customers’ expectations, leading us to miss the mark in addressing their questions and effectively communicating with them.
Here are some examples of the different perspectives specific audiences may have:
- A CEO’s goal could be to ensure healthy company growth and have answers to any board member questions regarding company-level key performance indicators (KPIs).
- A general manager (GM)’s goal might be to increase revenue for their specific product while keeping costs low.
- Product and engineering teams may prioritize fast and effective day-to-day execution.
- Legal and compliance departments may prioritize keeping the company safe and compliant. They may require a unified way to perform audits and manage permissions in an easy and manageable way.
Effective communication requires a holistic approach that considers not only what we say, but how we say it and to whom.
|STAGE 3| Forming Tailored Messages
Having defined and verified our customers’ needs, the next step is to craft tailored messages of our value proposition to cater to the unique perspectives of each audience.
IMPORTANT! Individuals performing distinct job functions prioritize varying aspects, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the information is conveyed in an easily comprehensible way for each individual.
Here are some examples of the varying perspectives different audiences may have, and how a platform organization can tailor their messaging to each:
- A CEO’s priority may be to unify and align all teams across the company
[Platform pitch] Think of our platform as an enterprise product in the larger ecosystem, offering scalable, reliable, and reusable solutions that enable product development teams to concentrate on their core competency. By establishing a shared platform, the company can keep costs low and eliminate the need to reinvent the wheel.
- A GMs’s goal might be to lead a product initiative and wants to stay within budget while growing their business line.
[Platform pitch] We can help you understand our various offerings and how they can support your team’s product and growth initiatives. If your teams decide to rebuild platform solutions on their own, research and maintenance costs can easily become unmanageable.
- Product and engineering may be focused on daily efficiency and avoiding dev environment nuances.
[Platform pitch] We highlight the ease of using our services in day-to-day operations, which platforms to use for different problems in the product lifecycle, and why using our products is more manageable than building in-house.
- Legal and Security teams are focused on keeping the company safe and compliant, with a desire for a unified way to perform audits and manage permissions.
[Platform pitch] Our platform consolidates data across the company, allowing for unified security controls and data protection that simplifies permission management and audits.
In these examples, we created tailored messages that align with the incentive for every audience group respectively. Even though the specific phrasing is different, the messages are derived from the same platform charter. These messages should directly address the goals, concerns, questions, and challenges of their intended audience.
Previous >> Stage I | Improving Alignment and Collaboration by creating a Charter
Next up >> Stage III | Channels and Methods of Communication