It’s The Audience, Stupid.

When Bill Clinton ran for the presidency against George W. Bush in 1992, the economy had turned soft: a recession. Clinton’s campaign adopted a rallying cry that they kept on their walls to stay on message — “It’s the economy, stupid.” As we know, Clinton won.

Let me suggest a rephrasing of that every marketer should tape to his or her wall — “It’s the audience, stupid.”

Here’s what I mean by that — marketing and communications that understand the audience and provides a benefit to that audience, is going to win out over marketing and communications that blabber about a product or service the brand offers.

Think of it like going to a party: you meet someone and all they do is talk about themselves. You can’t escape fast enough. Later, you meet someone else and they ask about you and engage you in a conversation based on what they’ve learned about you. The party just became more enjoyable.

Same thing with marketing and communications. Learn about your audience. Talk with them about what they want. What they need. Where they need help. Not just about what you have to offer.

I’ve seen too many times that it seems hard to think this way; what a company makes or offers is super-fantastic, amazing, splendiferous. We have to tell everyone!!!

I think Liberty Mutual insurance is struggling with this right now; they seem caught up in “we need to be funny like Geico and Progressive and Allstate’s ‘Mayhem’ ads.” Yet the real issue may be that they are just yacking about the attributes of their insurance and not appreciating who is the audience and what are the wants, needs, and challenges facing that audience.

You’ll have to trust me that your brand will have the opportunity to share all with your audience. But only after you’ve made a connection with them.

Just repeat after me: It’s the audience, stupid.