Target audiences: who will be in, who will be out?

“There are just too many damn audiences to reach.

You’ve got the community, the politicians and law makers, wives and school children, the donors and financiers, field workers, and the list just won’t stop. So why do you keep telling me – BROOKE –  that I need to pick just 1 target audience?!?!”

I know, it sucks. But let me clarify. For those who have worked with me on designing behavior change campaigns, I am pretty strict about selecting just 1 audience group as the target for the campaign. That does not mean excluding the many other players that need to be involved to make change happen. We just need to differentiate who’s who and develop different communication and outreach approaches.

Who’s in and who’s out?

Through identifying which behavior your project will tackle, you are also identifying the target audience – which is the group of people you will be asking to change or adopt a behavior. (I’m not writing in-depth here on how to define your target audience – but if you need help with that, then give me a shout.)

Once you know who your target audience is (again – it’s those folks you’re asking to do a different behavior), then you can start to explore all the other players that should be involved. This may include individuals and groups who:

  • can directly help the audience change their behavior or take action. For example, health care workers who will administer flu shots.
  • have influence over the audience and can serve as motivators and role models. For example, elders in the community, or celebrities, or the cool kid on the block.
  • need to take an action that will help support the behavior change to happen. For example, politicians who may need to create or amend laws.
  • will be responsible for enforcing the behaviors, such as patrol teams, guards, police, and more.
  • teach the next generation of target audience members, such as teachers, parents, and religious leaders.
  • and so on and so forth.

Don’t freak out.

Although this seems like a lot, the beauty of doing an activity like this is realizing that you don’t need to develop multiple large marketing efforts that target multiple groups at the same time. Rather, if you review the guidance for determining whether you’re asking these players to do an action or a behavior, then you can get real specific about what you need each player to do. You will likely discover that you’re mainly asking these other players to take an action, and you can design your communication and outreach strategies accordingly.

So, instead of creating a multi-faceted behavior change campaign for each player, you may instead:

  • Hold a series of small meetings with politicians and provide them with some
    information sheets.
  • Conduct a training with teachers and religious leaders and provide them with teaching materials to use in classes and sermons.
  • Create fliers and posters that local influencers can hand out to target audience members directly, sparking peer-to-peer communication.
  • Produce brightly branded enforcement clothing that clearly indicates when patrolling is happening.
  • and so on and so forth.

These are not super simple, super easy, snap-of-the-fingers, wave-of-the-wand approaches. But they are focused and tailored to the players you need to reach, and they will complement your larger behavior change effort. Plus, this approach places greater emphasis and focus on your target audience, which will prevent you from producing multiple time and energy intensive campaigns that may not be necessary.

If you’re working on a project like this and have questions, or are experiencing challenges, then give me a shout. I’d love to help.


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