Serve it up right

It’s been almost a year since I wrote my blog from the deck of a ferry. It was a hot sunny day and I was headed to Pelee Island to enjoy a day cycling. I’m doing it again — a little self-care that is. This time I’m writing from a bunkie at the top of a hill overlooking a wooded valley. I found the perfect place for a quiet getaway where I could enjoy some hiking and writing — two of my favourite things!

When you have information to deliver, do you spend time thinking about how you’ll deliver your message or how it might be received? Whether you’re launching a small business, promoting a retreat or running a short two-week sales promotion, how you deliver your message is going to make a difference in who you reach and who’s interested. We’re not all the same. We absorb information in different ways and appreciate different things.

I made the uphill climb to my bunkie. Half a kilometre from the farmhouse, pulling a wagon with my gear on one of the hottest days of the year. [Insert sweaty face.]

I got to the bunkie. I loved it! I couldn’t wait to share the experience with my kids. What a great spot! They’d love it too. Or would they?

Their idea of a fun time would not be in solitude without electricity, internet or indoor plumbing. There was no night life or fun parks, no television, only a magnificent view and the sounds of birds chirping from the woods below. What I was about to serve them up was not something they would want.

We’re not all the same. That’s why knowing your audience or your customers is so important. Invest the time into getting to know them and how best to reach them. This might mean using a variety of tactics or offering different ways to help individuals absorb the information you’re presenting.

For example, bigger changes — like restructuring a whole department, may take a number of different tactics from one-on-one meetings to full department meetings, individual letters to broad communications, each considering the needs of individuals. Smaller promotions may mean printing posters or running a targeted social media campaign. Depending on your business, your audience (or customers) may already share a common interest (they’re all looking for a writing retreat, for example), which makes how you communicate a whole lot easier!

Break it down
One strategy I use to understand my audience is a little table. It looks something like this.

Audience | Impact of change | Anticipated response | Tactic

From this little exercise, not only do I capture my various audiences, I can also identify different tactics and group the outcomes. I can then plan tactics that align with each anticipated response. If an audience has tenure and the impact of the change will be high, I may want to plan a one-on-one meeting to talk about the change in a more personal way and give them an opportunity to ask those important “me” questions. This will also help reduce anxiety when the broader communication goes out.

You might also consider adding a column for “desired response”. If you want a particular group to get excited about the information and potentially share it, or maybe you want them to act as ambassadors, the way you communicate may be different. Influencing an audience to act this way may require a different tone or tactic.

Careful planning helps me paint a picture of how things might roll out. Every project is different, just like your audiences. Putting time into really thinking about what each might need will help you get there more quickly.

So what are you waiting for? Serve it up the way they want it!

The Haven on the Hilltop was a great place for a mental break. If you’re looking for a quiet retreat, check out

Published by hdiane2

Quietly practicing something that brings me enjoyment.

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