When was the last time you used the phone… to get transit directions?

And I don’t mean texting or using an app!

I mean actually placing a call and talking to a live agent. 

The other morning, I was taking the bus from downtown to my home office. 

I had been at an early- morning Vancouver Board of Trade event. These events usually start early (around 7:00 am) and finish by 9:00. This particular event featured a BCIT professor speaking on the topic of different generations in the workplace. 

After the event, I jumped on a bus and mulled what I’d learned—while carefully shuffling my feet out of the way of fellow passengers.

How to communicate with your audience

During the trip, a woman sitting across from me pulled out her phone and started talking. She was in her 50s and dressed casually. She wasn’t talking loudly. But still, she didn’t have to talk loudly for people to overhear her conversation. 

And so, like everyone else who wasn’t wearing ear buds, I listened.

Eventually, I realized she was getting bus routing information—by talking to a real live person at our city’s transit authority! 

Apparently, she had some place to go that afternoon. And she wanted to know which buses to catch and when to leave. 

I had no idea that our city transit authority still offered this service!

It’s never occurred to me to call to get bus route directions over the phone. 

Personally, I’d much prefer to use an app. 

And this got me thinking about communication preferences.

How to Communicate With Your Audience

As marketers, we have many ways to communicate with our audiences. 

We have email, phone, websites, direct mail, social media, newsletters, chat, billboards, videos… just to name a few. 

But do you have to offer ALL of these communication channels? Or can you just choose one or two?

The answer depends on your target market. 

Unless your target market is very large and diverse, they probably share some communication preferences. 

Maybe they want to be able to call you and read your email newsletter.

Or maybe they would prefer to watch a video and reach to you on social media.

But how can you find out which communication channels you should offer?

Here’s a four-step process:

  1. Audit your existing channels. Which channels are heavily used? Which ones aren’t? 
  2. Ask your clients. Which channels are they currently using? What other channels would they LIKE to use? 
  3. Research. What channels your competitors are using—and not using? What’s standard in your industry? Look for opportunities that might have been overlooked.
  4. Experiment. It’s okay to try out new channels—and then drop them if nobody’s interested. Often, you won’t know what works well until you give it a try. 

Once you decide on your channels, keep in mind that you may need to change them over time.

And as your target market changes, your communication channels may need to change as well. 

New channels will emerge. The popularity of existing channels may decline.

And as your target market changes, your communication channels may need to change as well. 

But whatever you do, do your due diligence.

And resist the temptation to just phone it in. 

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, principal and founder of Copperplate Communications, helps small and medium size businesses get more leads and build stronger client relationships by creating quality content for websites, blogs, newsletters, catalogue content, landing pages and social media. You can find Holly on Twitter and LinkedIn.