Audience First

Posted by Yancey Kenna

An evolution with revolutionary implications

In agency speak, the term consumer has long been used to reference a group of people who have little choice but to consume the information being put in front of them. So it’s no wonder that for decades the sole focus of an agency was to convey the messages their clients wanted to communicate, not on what their client’s customers—and potential customers—wanted to hear, see and feel.

But the marketing landscape of today is made up of vastly different terrain. Referring to people as mere consumers is an old and contrived mindset that’s not only backward and inaccurate, it’s also downright stupid.

That’s why at GS&F we prefer to use the term “audience,” and the reason is simple—in today’s world, the audience is in complete control.

The power of the audience

The audience has the ability to make or break a Broadway show’s success, a movie’s box office receipts, or a popular performer’s career. And just as an audience can walk out of a theater or boo a bad performance, they can also choose to not advocate for your brand.

That’s why as marketers we must learn how to empathize with our audience and develop a true understanding of what they do and do not like.

Let’s start with the latter. Today’s hyper-connected audience has an eight-second digital attention span and no patience for intrusive, noisy advertising. They install ad blockers on their phones, tablets and laptops and will choose the communication channels that are important to them.

And if they don’t find the content they want, they’ll create it.

Irrelevance is the death knell of any brand

The truth is that irrelevance is inevitable for any brand unable to produce content that’s compelling, useful and timely. And any marketers who insist on force-feeding an audience marketing messages—regardless of their interests—are failing.

As an “audience-first” agency, we see ourselves as advocates working on behalf of our client’s distinctive audiences. From strategy to execution, we’re striving to deliver content that meets their needs, desires and interests.

Giving the audience what they want

When you shift from thinking of “the consumer” and think instead of “the audience,” you begin to produce work with the audience in mind. The things they care about start to influence your decisions, and you ultimately end up with a product or service they want. While this can seem like a dramatic shift for brands, it’s actually a very positive and strategic move.

Consider, for example, what you do for an audience.

You perform, giving them what they want. And they applaud.