Technical Brief


Who is Your Audience?

Entrepreneurs, having attended entrepreneurial boot-camp programmes, have a simple answer to the question, “who is your audience?”

“The customer! We are completely and ruthlessly focused on the customer!”

This is the correct answer. However, it begs the question, who is your customer?

The person who clicks on the Buy Now! button on your web site, the person who needs your product, is your customer.

However, in the early stages of an enterprise, you need to be very aware of other audiences.

Policymakers and government agencies who have been assigned and funded to pick winners and losers in your sector, are an important audience. Potential investors who keep you afloat while you are gathering a critical mass of Buy Now! customers, these are also an important audience. Business and technology editors who may champion your enterprise and raise your profile in a way that a million-euro advertising budget could not, these are your audience too.

The three-paragraph boilerplate description of your enterprise brings this sharply in focus. You could simply tell people what your product does, that it performs a particular task faster, more efficiently or cheaper. However, it’s also important to tell people why this is important – why are you introducing this product or service at this time? You also want to tell them who is introducing this service. Investors and government agencies like to invest in people rather than in ideas, so who you are is as important as what your product or service can do.

Do you have first-mover advantage in the local market? Is your offering robust and fit-for-purpose? Could your business be scaled internationally? Could an investor showcase you as a successful venture and justify investing extra resources in you?

You have to be focused on the Buy Now! audience, because they have a clear need for what you’re selling. But at the early stages, be aware of the needs of the other audiences who can help you to succeed.

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Reward Your Employees Like Teenage Gamers

How do you motivate juvenile athletes who don’t win very often? Typically such athletes are encouraged to focus on the enjoyment they derive from being part of a team and to be philosophical about their win-lose ratio.

Kipling once wrote that success and failure are the twin imposters and should be treated in the same way, as temporary circumstances derived from factors largely beyond our control. This is both wise and true, in addition to being beside the point. In competitive sports, kids want to win. They have plenty of time in later life to learn the big lessons about the relative merits of success and failure.

Teresa Amabile’s book The Progress Principle addresses this issue of motivation and engagement in difficult circumstances. It applies to the workplace, just as much as it applies to sport or education. After all, we’re in business to succeed, since wisdom and truth won’t pay the bills.

Amabile suggests three management practices can give people a sense of progress. The first is to give you employees lots of small achievable tasks, so that they can regularly feel that they have achieved something. The second is that you should regularly give your employees awards or recognition. The third is that you should let them know how they are performing.

The developers of gaming software understand these principles very well. In RPG games, the player embarks on an epic quest. However, they undertake many small tasks along the way, such as fighting off wolves, or acquiring armour. They are also given small rewards, such as extra life-points, or gold rings, or slightly more powerful weapons. The gamers can also, at any point, see their score displayed on the screen, so they know how they are performing. That’s how games publishers keep their gamers hooked, playing for hours, days and weeks.

In any workplace small achievable tasks – which are related to the overall strategic goal – and small rewards can help to motivate the workers. Management can provide the third pillar of motivation, by letting their workers know how they are doing, by giving them praise, or complimenting them on a task they the performed particularly well.

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