Know Your Audience – Tips for Tailored Communications The pitch might be perfect for one audience but decidedly imperfect for another.

By Stav Vaisman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many of us have spent countless hours crafting our communications. Our time is intended to create the perfect pitch to investors, customers, or vendors. Yet the same pitch doesn't work for all stakeholders — the pitch might be perfect for one audience but decidedly imperfect for another.

My tips for tailoring communications to each stakeholder group come from my experience serving divergent stakeholder groups. What I've learned is that you might deliver the same content to different audiences, but you must tailor that message for each audience's unique interests, perspectives, and backgrounds. Unfortunately, this is not how many businesses craft their messaging. A study in Accounting and Business Research found that businesses tend to tailor a single message and then communicate it across different financial stakeholder groups. This approach contributes to ineffective corporate communications. What the research shows is that, simply stated, messages designed without knowing your audience fall on deaf ears.

Related: How to Target the Right Audience in 5 Simple Steps

Three essential tips can guide how you tailor your communications for different audiences. Each of these steps relies on the foundation of fact-finding. Conducting intensive due diligence about your different audiences will allow you to know them, appeal to them, and persuade them.

Know your audiences — and your assumptions about them

This sounds simple, but in fact your audience's interests, traits, and inclinations might be more elusive than you realize. Knowing your audience begins with identifying all of the assumptions that you hold about your audience. I remember one of my first pitches to an investor that was based on an assumption about how his background might influence his perspective. Fortunately, I second-guessed myself and decided to inquire a little deeper into his experience. One of his former business partners told me that my assumption was generally correct, with a major caveat. I revised my pitch accordingly, and that potential investor became an important partner of my own.

Related: 9 Ways to Meet and Understand Your Audience

Anticipate the reception

You might have the same message about your firm to pitch to your investors and other stakeholders, but their unique perspective means that their reception will vary. Anticipating the unique reception to your pitch among each of your different stakeholders will allow you to tailor your counter-response. I learned this the hard way. After the fourth or fifth pitch meeting, I realized that everyone I spoke to had a different set of questions for me. At first, I thought the variation was simply the result of confounding variables. Upon later analysis, I realized that I could have predicted those questions based on each investor's unique traits. Anticipating the reception means that you have adopted the mindset of each audience based on its unique position.

Have a conversation

Most importantly, your pitch to every stakeholder must be conversational, not unidirectional. Many of the problems listed above can actually be resolved through a conversational approach. The conversation can allow you to learn more about your audience than what you previously thought you knew. The conversation can allow you to identify their like reception to your pitch. Knowing your audience means respecting your audience, and nothing says that more than communicating with them as individuals rather than targets.

In fact, I learned this fundamental lesson from one of my first audiences — a customer. I came to my first meeting armed with an elaborate sales pitch to land the big fish. I was young, confident, and enthusiastic about how my services could meet her needs. As soon as I started, she smiled, chuckled, and said the words I'll never forget: "Slow down. Why don't we take a few minutes to get to know each other?"

Blushing, I realized I had framed my customer entirely as an opportunity, not a person. We actually spent most of the time I had booked with her talking about everything but what I intended to pitch. At the end of our conversation, she looked at me and smiled. "Great! Now that we know each other, perhaps we can do business together. Show me what you got." I realized the importance of the conversation was more about me learning about her. She also learned a lot about me — as a person and as a vendor.

The unifying principle

Learning about your audience is the common thread that runs through each of these steps. You can only tailor your message uniquely for your audience when you know your assumptions about them, anticipate how they will react to your message, and learn from them through authentic and transparent conversation. Crafting a generalized message that is intended to appeal to multiple audiences will likely appeal to none of them. Show your audience the respect they deserve by crafting a uniquely tailored message for them guided by these concepts.

A tailored message fits like a finely tailored suit. Your audience is more likely to respond when they see how your attention to their particular details informed your message.

Related: 10 Ways to Learn About Your Target Audience

Wavy Line
Stav Vaisman

CEO of InspiredConsumer

A marketing expert with a proven track record of connecting brands to untapped, highly-desired audiences for over 20 years. Startup founder and advisor. Business and entrepreneurship writer. Charity co-founder. Proud dog dad.

Editor's Pick

'Catastrophic': Here's What You Should Know About the Debt Ceiling Crisis — And How a Default Could Impact Your Business
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Business News

7 of the 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live in the U.S. Are in One State

A new report by U.S. News found that San Diego is the most expensive city to live in for 2023-2024, followed by Los Angeles. New York City didn't even rank in the top 10.

Money & Finance

3 Ways to Create Multiple (Big) Streams of Income

Here are three ways to create multiple streams of income. These strategies require effort and resources but offer significant financial potential.


The Real Reason Why The Return to Office Movement is Failing is Revealed in New Study

There is a vivid sign of the disconnect between employees and their workplace, a glaring indication that companies need to revise their scripts to improve their hybrid and remote work policies.

Science & Technology

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.

Angelina Tsuboi, a full-stack mobile and web developer who also happens to be a pilot, has always been solution-oriented.


3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Help Make Healthcare More Accessible to Everyone

As a dental entrepreneur, I've spent my career working to make oral healthcare more accessible to all. Here's what I've learned.

Employee Experience & Recruiting

The Delicate Dance Every HR Person Must Master

Practice the steps needed to balance the push and pull of human resources and become a star!