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Right Message, Right Audience

Oct. 15, 2021
Don’t tell your story… tell their story. If you’re not fitting your message to suit the target audience, you’re doing it wrong.

I often describe marketing as “communicating the right message to the right audience.” I used to add that “good marketing is storytelling,” but too often people would forget that telling a story includes an audience. Telling a great story to the wrong audience is a message that is not delivered – or is not heard.

This description – communicating the right message to the right audience – applies equally to creating and placing advertisements as to selecting a social media platform and posting messages as it does to creating and showcasing a case study. It even applies to website content and design as well as digital advertising.

“Right” does not mean the message you need to hear, nor what the business wants to say to potential customers. “Right” is the message that will reach your customers and prospects – what they need to hear – and what might be interesting or useful to them, delivered in the terminology that they recognize and share.

The length of the message depends on the medium, shorter for advertising, longer for technical reporting. The specific content of the message also varies, depending on the medium. But the purpose of the right message remains the same across every medium: to educate potential consumers about the solution you offer in a way that encourages them to know, like, and trust your brand.

Setting aside your own preferences to create the right message calls for listening. I confess that once I pitched a program for more sales leads to a prospective client who actually wanted fewer sales leads but better quality incoming leads. I did not land the business because I pitched the wrong message, my message rather than their need.

The right message is not a one-off statement or clever social media phrase. The right message is a planned communication campaign spread across all touchpoints: website, customer service experience, trade show presence, social media, press campaign, etc. The right message is reliable, repeatable, and consistent – all while staying relevant to its placement. A TikTok post may at its core have the same message as a case study, but their deliveries are very, very different.

What does the right audience look like? Possibly it will not be what you expect. It might not be where you expect. Choosing placement to reach the right audience is an underappreciated marketing skill. It usually starts with research – which magazines, what keywords, which trade shows, what associations, what prospect titles, etc. – about “where” the audience hangs out professionally, digitally and in person. This need not be complicated. Ask your sales team which business magazines are in prospects’ offices, check association forums for engagement by target prospects, ask media contacts to show you their audience segmentation or other metrics that matter to you, etc. But the audience you choose must be planned.

This “right message to the right audience” technique applies equally to branding for prospective employees. When advertising and branding for employees, you have to know that audience and create a message that is meaningful to them. To attract employees, make sure the message is less of a BOM and more of an enticement.

Remember, successful marketing is not about you. What you want to say is not likely to be what needs to be said to gain the customers’ attention and confidence. Marketing success happens when you put the right message in front of the right audience, addressing their concerns and explaining in their language how you’ll make a difference or fix their problem.

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Manager at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit