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How to Fall in Love with Your Audience

Woman sitting on a sofa with a dog on her lap

I love being a graphic designer. But there are days when I find myself feeling listless—like everything I make is nothing more than meaningless, ephemeral “stuff.” To combat this problem, I’ve been trying something new: falling in love.

I don’t mean the fairytale romance kind of love. I mean the love that comes from genuinely caring about someone other than yourself. The kind of love that allows you to see the world from a different perspective.

Whether you’re a designer, content creator or business owner, falling in love with your audience can help reignite the passion for your work and allow you to do work that can actually make a difference in someone’s life.

1. Be Interested

Note that this does not say be interesting. Remember that this is about them, not you. Resist the urge to rattle off qualifications or experience and instead just listen. Treat every interaction with your audience—whether face-to-face or virtual—like a first date by giving them the gift of your full, undivided attention.

Ask them about their day, their likes, their dislikes, their hopes, their dreams. The more you’re able to see your audience as a complex, beautiful person and not just a customer or a patient, the more motivated you are to provide useful solutions to their problems.

2. Be Observant

If you’re meeting someone in-person, take notice of their surroundings. If you’re meeting in their home or office, pay attention to how they’ve created their environment. What people choose to surround themselves with can say a lot about them.

If you’re meeting someone outside of their environment, you can still pay attention to their mannerisms—the way they speak and carry themselves. Pick up on the little quirks and mannerisms that make each person unique. Hold onto these little gems and pull them out whenever you feel yourself getting frustrated and losing sight of who you’re working for.

4. Be Empathetic

As the creator of your message or service, you have the benefit of much more context than your audience. This divide is particularly striking when handling criticism or complaints. If someone comes to you with a problem, you likely already know that problem exists and have an excuse at the ready.

But rather than begin on the defensive, try to see it from their perspective. Reframe the problem and try to solve it in a way that most benefits them and not just in the way that is easiest for you. This will not only give you more compassion for your audience, but also provide you with greater insight into how to make your product or service better.

4. Fake It

Of course, there are many times when you don’t have direct access to your audience or it’s simply too vast to get to know them on a personal level. If that’s the case, you may just have to fake it.

Glean whatever information you can from customer surveys, user comments or social media followers and craft personas of who your audience might be. Think about what their lives might be like and consider how that will affect how they interact with your content or service. Find stock photos and stick them somewhere you can see them so you can put a face to your audience. The decisions based on these personas may not be authentic, but they will at least be sincere.

Remember that love is a choice. And when we choose to love the people we serve, it changes all of our lives for the better.