Profile of man looking out of a window, a city can be seen behind him

By Cindy Nguyen

Your message is engaging, thoughtful, and meaningful … check, check, and check. But how do you get it to the right audience and, more important, how do you get them to respond? To give your message the best chance to make its mark, you have to diversify – diversify in nuance, target audiences, and distribution channels.

As audience information-delivery preferences shift, and communication options evolve, more content than ever is available with a single click. Organizations must be as fluid as their audiences, continuously monitoring their communications campaigns. A strategy now must embody an evolving plan that is refined throughout the campaign – adjustments are made based on analysis and feedback, and on a more frequent basis.

Illustration of a bull horn with colored arrows coming out and heading various directionsSo, how do you break down your plan into manageable strategies that resonate with a wide variety of audiences? First, identify the true objectives of the marketing and communication strategy. Which audience segments are your messages intended to reach? What is the call to action – what do you want them to do when they receive the messages?

That is why understanding the audience is important; you can begin to break down themes and messages that resonate with each audience segment. And when audience segmentation is combined with historical data, such as past campaign results, it can lead to a deeper look at both traditional and non-traditional communication channels (for more on this, see our discussion of communications channels here).

With this analysis in hand, you can determine the best channels to use based on your target audiences, the results you hope to achieve, industry best practices, and expected channel success rates. Many organizations test their content before they make a final determination of what channels to use. For example, they may create two different content formats and test to see which works better over a small period of time on different channels.

This type of A/B testing provides insight into what works best in different communication channels, and provides another data point when determining where to spend those precious advertising dollars. What no one likes to talk about is failure or the perception of it, but let’s face it, things don’t always work as planned. It’s important to understand and document why a message/channel combination didn’t work so it can be addressed or factored into future campaigns.

Once you have determined your audiences, messages, and channels, you then must determine a distribution strategy – how are you going to ensure your messages stay consistent or complimentary across the spectrum. The tools available to distribute media seem endless. There are good distribution tools for owned, paid, and earned media. It’s key to keep in mind the audience as the tools used should reflect their habits for consuming information.

Owned media, e.g., your company website, blog or social media accounts, should be an important part of your distribution strategy. You may consider using tools like Medium, a publishing platform for social journalism, where paid and unpaid writers can post content on any subject at any length. OneLoad is a tool focused on distributing video – you can post videos on 20 different social and websites at one time.

Paid media, the most traditional, is a great way to target specific audience segments. Triberr is a tool that helps organizations connect with influencers who can help spread the message further. Taboola offers message placement on a variety of other websites – driving new traffic to your website.

Earned media is exposure you get via word-of-mouth (e.g., public relations, press mentions, events, social mentions). Quora is a question-and-answer forum driven by its community of users; a home for sharing and growing a community’s knowledge. With you can create lists that other people in the community can discover, contribute to, and share.

All audience types have limited attention spans, so, you must make it valuable for audiences to pay attention to your messages. A survey by Nielsen reported that 83 percent of consumers trust friend and family recommendations. If the content created is compelling enough for users to share, this type of earned media can go a long way toward positioning your organization as a valued leader in your industry. There are specific tactics to consider when developing content to capture attention.

It is very effective, for example, if you can elicit emotion in your message – create joy or surprise right away. Positive emotions improve the conversion and retention of the audience, increasing the audience’s probability of sharing your content with their networks and making brand ambassadors of those people who share your content.

Target your audience, make your message memorable, and choose the right channels, and your campaign just might live forever.