If you're a small business, know your audience.

What is an audience?

“Audience” refers to the people you seek to change through your business, customers and potential customers. An audience has a worldview shaped by:

  • Wants
  • Needs
  • Obstacles
  • Stakes

Can you fill these in for your audience?

Wants are superficial. People are usually aware of their wants. Needs are the actual requirements that many people subconsciously ignore. Many people want to have more money, bigger houses, more status, or even a slice of pizza. What those people need are more time with their family, less stress, more exercise, a better diet, and the list goes on. People chase their wants, but they generally stumble into their needs or seek them out only when the stakes rise.

Start with this: "My audience wants ______________________________, but they need _____________________."

After that, it’s about their obstacles. Obstacles are what stand in the way. Can the audience not afford a certain product? Price may be an obstacle. If the audience can’t grow their business because they are too busy, a product that saves them time may remove an obstacle.

Add this to the previous lines: "Standing in their way from what they need is __________________."

Finally, stakes are what is on the line. Happiness. Financial security. A business. Your life. These are all stakes.

Wrap up with this: "For them, __________________ is on the line."

Doing this exercise leaves out your offering, it’s for understanding what your audience is looking for. It may also be possible for a given business to have multiple audiences, each having multiple wants, needs, and obstacles. Failing to articulate the audiences’ perspective, separately from your product, generally means you’re a solution looking for a problem, rather than the other way around. Rethink that.


None of this is Right is written by me, Brandon Donnelly. I believe that small business is the backbone of a healthy economy and democracy. Small business encourages competition through generosity, creativity, and skill. Small business provides more opportunity for workers to find a job that works for them. If you believe in small business, generosity, or creativity, my writings are for you.


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