• Rosie Nicholas

Know your audience - improve your communications

Sometimes we can forget who we're talking to when we create business communications. Make sure you identify to whom you need to target your message, and how you need to adapt it for the audience.

How do I start?

The best way is to look at the basics:

  • What type of communication is it?

  • What’s the main message?

  • Who needs to read it?

So let’s create that scenario: let’s say you work for a company that has many outlets across the country, staffed by employees with a wide range of experience (both within your industry and in your company).

Your task is to inform these employees about the latest offer available to customers, which is: anyone who spends £100 in one transaction in your stores this Saturday can get a 50% discount on red shoes.

Remember, your employees have different levels of experience - so you will need to explain certain things to them. Your communication will need to be easy to understand for all your staff. That might include your most junior sales colleague in your network, who might have only started this week; a senior sales colleague who joined your business only a month ago (so is still ‘new’ to your business); and another who’s been part of your brand for more than 20 years.

We sometimes assume everyone in the target audience will know what they’re referring to if they (for example) use a widely-used acronym, or say to ‘follow the usual process’ - but if you’re new to the business, you won’t know what the process may be.

This can be a fine balancing act, though, because you shouldn’t overload your message with lots of details. If it’s a business communication, your staff won’t have a lot of time to read it - they have your customers to help! - so they may end up missing some information. Many people will also be put off reading something if it’s too long.

If you want, create a profile of a typical user to whom you will need to aim the message. For this instance, imagine this is someone new to the business and relatively inexperienced - if you think they will understand your communication, you’ve got the most difficult part sorted!

Different audience for different jobs

As well as thinking of your team's experience level, you need to think which team to whom you're targeting a communication.

Your sales team will need to know about the details of this latest offer, because they will be the ones dealing with the transactions. But your branch managers won't need to know the ins-and-outs of how to apply the discount.

Branch managers will, for example, need to know there's an offer and the period in which it will run. They may also need to know about training, incentives and area meetings: items other staff will not need for their day-to-day jobs.

So make sure you take that into account if you target communications for different groups. You may even wish to create different profiles for typical users in each group, so you can have a typical user set for each scenario.

What do you think?

This is my opinion, but I hope you found that useful - let me know your thoughts on this article, or any other subjects you want me to cover in future.


My portfolio covers the wide range of subjects and skills I have. This isn't a comprehensive list of what I've created in my career, but includes freelance bylines and what I like to write about.

If there's a particular specialist subject you want to know more about, do get in touch and I'll gladly speak to you further on what I know and how I can help you.

© 2020 Rosie Nicholas