Don’t Overlook the Root of Your Marketing Materials

The Quick Story

The next time you feel like a design project isn’t working or looking how you think it should, but you can’t put your finger on why, take a moment and make sure that both you and your designer are thinking from the AUDIENCE frame of mind.

The Long Story

Imagine this:
You hire an intern to manage and create graphics for your wine tasting event’s Instagram account. Your attendees are 30-45 year old women of mid- to high-income that love food and wine. Oh, and they live in a fancy-pants part of town. Your intern is super clever and knows how to use Instagram to its fullest and is well-versed in social media, so you are confident that the project is in good hands. A few weeks pass, and with the date of your event on the horizon you decide to look at the Instagram account to see how things are going.


“The needs and tastes of the audience should lie at the root of any design solution. Begin there and grow outward.”

–  Jim Krause

Uh-oh. The feed looks like a clone of your football-loving, latest-meme-posting, 20-year-old male college student intern’s personal account (with the word wine sprinkled here and there), not your event’s account. At least not what you imagined it should be.

What happened?! It looks “good”, but it’s just not right.

It’s probably because you forgot to tell the intern about your audience. You didn’t tell them to step outside of their own point of view — where they’re coming from and what’s important and interesting to them — and to put themselves in the perspective of your attendees. Maybe you forgot to mention it because this is something that seems so obvious to you that you never really thought about it. (Remember, what is obvious to you might not be obvious to your designer.) Or maybe it’s because sometimes you are guilty of the same thing and forget to think from your audience’s frame of mind too.

For some of us, we really relate to our audience and it takes very little effort to know or learn the media, lingo, style, colors, fashions, and trends they are into. But for others, becoming attuned to your audience’s culture can take much more thought and research.

Remember, everyone on your team needs to:

  • understand who the project is speaking to
  • who you are trying to connect with
  • what value you are providing to your audience

This will help clarify the design of the project and create a more unified, impactful, and meaningful message.

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