Audiences are always hungry for information. They will seek out information that educates and inspires them or exposes issues and tells them how to achieve things. For the sender of the message, knowing your purpose is a lot like deciding what kind of food you want to serve in your restaurant.
Before you start cooking, make sure you understand your receivers' palates so your messages leave a good taste and your audience will always be craving more. Messaging that lands well with your audience is a bit like pulling off a five-star dinner. You need a menu that's flavorful and interesting with memorable bites and satisfying drink pairings. It's these details that will have your guests leaving positive reviews and recommend what you're serving to their friends. Let's dish some of the other key ingredients that make sure your messages suit the tastes of the consumers.
Cater to the receiver's needs.
Messages should be customized for the intended audience. Without an understanding of who your audience is, what it cares about, and what motivates them to act, your message will fail to connect. Your 10 year wedding anniversary dinner has very different requirements and expectations than your 10-year-old's birthday party does. Let's look at how a theme, the impact of military marriages on the workforce was addressed two different ways with two different audiences in mind.
In the article, "Dual Military Couples: Navigating Military Life Together," the writer addresses the impact divorce has on readiness. The message has a hopeful tone to point out problems that have led to divorce but also highlights how the military has taken strides to address them. Conversely, the article, "Americans in this field have the highest rate of divorce by age 30," on MarketWatch is written with less emotion and more empirical data. The intended audience is likely interested in the topic but from a purely financial perspective. Both stories have their place and purpose in the information landscape, but each is meeting a different objective. Knowing who the intended receivers are, and focusing on their interests and experience, will help you meet the reader where they are.
Find the secret sauce.
Every memorable message has a delightful tidbit that gets gobbled up with gusto. Finding that flavor bomb takes patience and an open mind. You may think it's the steak, but it might be the sauce.
Take the story, "Cherry Hill social worker wanted to join the U.S. Army but wasn’t fit. So he lost over 100 pounds," about Tashime Felder, a young recruit celebrating his enlistment in the Army. As is, it's a perfectly good snack-sized story. But if you dig a little deeper and ask why he was so relentless, we discover that Tashime Felder is a social worker who lost 110 pounds to realize his lifelong dream of military service and working with PTSD survivors. With obesity rates disqualifying over 30% of youth who wish to serve, the additional context attracts a wider audience. Your morsel just became a meal.
Too much jargon can make the receiver salty.
Jargon is like salt in your food. How much you use depends on the audience. If you're talking to military members, jargon builds trust and rapport by showing that you speak their language. If your audience is not military members, you'll lose them with too much jargon. The Marines Corps has different social media accounts that serve unique audiences. The image, Golf and November Company Crucible posted on Twitter, serves a primarily military audience, so liberal use of jargon is appropriate. If you're sharing this beyond the military, less jargon would be appreciated.
For example, this same image on Facebook, posted without jargon, connects better with the general public.
Feedback can save your bacon.
Evaluating when jargon would or would not be effective will help you connect with your audience. Use it when you need it for accuracy, and eliminate it when you don't. As the chef, you have the responsibility of understanding your diners and relating to their unique tastes. Find the right bites to spotlight, use jargon appropriately, and be open to reworking the message. Even the most well-trained chefs serve duds from time to time. That's where feedback can help refine your message. Reading the online reviews and comments can provide insight, analytics provide viewer data. Feedback invites you to the kitchen to tweak the flavor profile by spicing it up, or toning it down.
Follow this recipe, and you'll take your communication from bland to brilliant.