Identify what moves and motivates your audience
What is it?
Developing audience insight and establishing a full understanding of people’s lives, what is important to them and what influences them. In particular, understanding the factors that move and motivate them. You may need to consider undertaking primary research to complete your understanding.
Why do this?
People’s attitudes and behaviour are often the result of multiple influences. These may have developed over many years and be firmly entrenched, or be constantly changing. Looking at people’s lives in the round gives insight into why they behave as they do. More >
Knowing the factors that influence behaviour, for example access to services, provides a clearer understanding of potential target groups. This understanding helps you select specific target audiences and develop interventions.
To consider how we might encourage the desired behaviour, we need to understand why people behave as they do, what influences them, what they care about and their feelings and motivations. More >
Many behaviours are not the result of rational decision-making but are based on emotion and mood. So asking people why they act as they do may not provide the necessary information. This is why programmes which do not address their feelings and emotions are unlikely to succeed.
How might you do this?
Design and carry out the primary research you require to further understand your target audience(s). You should consider whether it can be done in-house or needs to be outsourced.
Think about the various factors which will impact on the target audiences. More >
For example, to understand drug use among younger people you must first identify the peer pressure they experience and why the pleasure and gratification offered by drugs is preferable to alternative pursuits. These may differ between audience segments, for example by age group and life-stage.
Brainstorm within the team to help generate a fuller set of factors. More >
It might be possible to create wall charts that offer a living representation of who is at the centre of the programme and decision making. The main features can be illustrated with supporting data tabulated in supplementary documents.
You might find it useful to organise a workshop with key people who know and have worked with the target audience(s). At the workshop you could:
- Establish the level of motivation to adopt/sustain problem/desired behaviours. More >
To illustrate this, it may help to consider the four broad audiences described in a Department of Health study. Motivation is a key factor in describing the target audience’s behaviour. Bear in mind that all four audiences are seen in the context of a specific life-stage. Therefore, if your target audience are the ‘younger jugglers’ (typically aged 25–39, but could be as young as 16) with dependants (children or elderly), you would be discussing survivors, fighters, disengaged and thrivers in this life-stage group.
Department of Health Study of Four target audiences: circumstances and attitudes
Survivors live in negative environments and are poorly motivated to look after their health, so the task might be to arm them – give them the confidence and tools to overcome their circumstances. Survivors may also be living in such poor conditions that it is difficult to rise above them. Therefore, improving their material circumstances and the quality of the services available may be the most important priority.
Fighters also live in negative environments but stand above their peers, and ar e highly motivated to look after their health. The task here might be to support their efforts in leading a healthy lifestyle despite the challenges they face.
Disengaged people live in positive environments but are poorly motivated in looking after their health. This might be conscious rebellion for those in their ‘freedom years’, or it might be that they put other priorities before of their own health (for example ‘jugglers’ putting children or careers first). The task here might be to alarm them – and raise their awareness of the consequences of their current behaviour.
Thrivers live in positive environments and are highly motivated to look after their health – this is the group that is on the right track and probably least in need of attention. The task here would be to reinforce their efforts in leading a healthy life, keeping them on the right track.
- Establish the reasons why people engage in the desired and problem behaviours.
- Develop a picture of the target audience by assessing the motivation which drives them to behave as they do, and the strength of that motivation. More >
A clear picture should emerge about the motivation of the target audience. On the topic of smoking cessation, for example, you may have identified younger jugglers who are survivors, with an overall low motivation to quit smoking, and for whom cigarettes are one of their few pleasures as well as being a symbol of social inclusion.
- Identify other aspects of the target audience’s life which may (or may not) be directly related to the behaviour. What do they value? What engages them? More >
Again, looking at smoking cessation as an example, younger jugglers by definition have dependants whose welfare is likely to be a powerful motivating force. The financial cost of cigarettes is likely to be an issue. Also, time to themselves or for socialising may be scarce and highly valued and cigarettes may be associated with, or even symbolic, of this.
- Take a reality check and ask whether the emerging picture is a realistic one according to people’s experience. More >
Check against any research and insight which has been brought to the workshop. Identify any emerging insights. A clearer picture should be emerging.
Make use of other people’s experiences when trying to understand target audiences. More >
There are a range of stakeholders who have important information about target audiences. Depending on the issue, these may include health professionals, social workers, the police, local authorities, those who have changed their own behaviour, retailers, researchers… the list is long.
Focus on what moves and motivates the target audience when conducting or commissioning research.
Remember that people aren’t always aware of why they behave as they do and will often try and rationalise their behaviour.
Consider using projective techniques to assess inner motives. For example, ask about why ‘other’ people do things, rather than the person answering the questions.
A model or wall chart of the key influences on the target audience’s behaviour. Alternatively, you can develop a tabular record.
A description of what generally moves and motivates each target audience.
A table of more specific motives for both the desired and problem behaviours for each target audience.
An initial understanding of the broad target population, its behavioural context and key influences.
An understanding of why the target audience(s) engage in desired and problem behaviours.
The potential to develop interventions which directly address the specific target audience(s) motivations.
Laying the groundwork for audience segmentation and targeting.