In my first communications class, I learned the first step of the writing process is to know your audience. Everyone knows that's important, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to revisit communication basics.
The success of a current campaign by the American Mustache Institute (AMI), H&R Block and Millions from One is rooted in these companies' deep understanding of their audience. Inspired by a 2010 white paper by tax professor John Yeutter, AMI launched a humorous campaign called the "Million Mustache March."
The campaign rallied mustache aficionados to pressure Congress to pass the STACHE Act (Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses). The act asks for a $250 tax deduction for Americans with mustaches, as they make America significantly more attractive.
To energize its audience, AMI created a custom Facebook application where participants could take pictures of themselves with a fake "stache," share their new mustache pictures, and browse submissions of other mustache fans. Using the Facebook application, YouTube videos, and media relations tactics, AMI hopes to physically take on Washington with a march of mustached individuals on April 1.
For each person who uses the Facebook application or participates in the march, H&R Block will donate to Millions from One, a charity dedicated to providing clean water for people worldwide. It expects to donate $10K to Millions From One.
This campaign uses Facebook and word of mouth marketing in some interesting ways, but its genius lies in its insight into its audience's behavior. AMI and H&R Block targeted men who are 21-35 years old, and the companies understand three crucial aspects about them:
1. What makes them listen. Because tax deductions aren't exactly sexy, AMI and H&R Block focused their message around the humor of a mustache. When you add interest to a dry topic, people are more interested in what you have to say.
2. What makes them share. People in this age group are notoriously self-oriented and more likely share content that applies to them. Through a photo-booth application, AMI and H&R Block could use messages created by their audience, which people are more likely to share.
3. What makes them act. The community members were very active online, proud of their mustaches, and thrived on being part of a bigger cause. AMI and H&R Block created a space for these community members to connect with other mustache aficionados and take action together for a good cause.
The best part about understanding your audience is that it doesn't matter what media you use to communicate with them. Knowing what makes your audience listen, share and act transcends the platform you use.
As communication tools continue to change, it is essential to any campaign's success to recognize what makes people listen, share and act.
What are some of your favorite ways to better understand your audience?
Ginny Soskey is a digital media marketer, blogger and president of Boston University's Chapter of PRSSA. A version of this article originally appeared on PRBreakfastClub.