» 12 basic guidelines: Start from where your audience is


"Start from where your audience is" is a well-worn dictum of marketing.

A salesman tries to get you to buy something by adding value - extra features, extra benefits.

A marketer finds out what you want, what you already do and think, and creates or finds a product that fits you.

When it comes to communication, do your market research. Say you need to persuade a group of councillors to take a particular decision about a forest. You may think it's important for frogs or as a watershed. But what do they see ? What if they use it for jogging or 50% of their constituents are woodcutters ? You may see a forest but they may see timber, or an exercise area. Put the issue in their terms.

Remember the chickens story. In the 1970s an aid agency ran a successful development project in one part of East Africa. It wanted to explain this idea to villagers elsewhere. So it sent a film crew to make a short film explaining the project, and equipped a vehicle to show this film as a mobile cinema. The film was made and toured to the target villages. Afterwards, a survey found that what villagers most remembered about the film was "the chickens". The agency were puzzled. Chickens had nothing to do with the project at all. Eventually they looked at the film. A cut-away shot showed an agency landrover speeding past a hut, and as it did so, a large group of chickens flew across the screen. Unfortunately in the target village area, chickens were a sign of wealth, and this therefore was by far the most interesting feature of the film. [This may be an apocryphal tale but it's a good one].