Reach a new audience by turning their woes into cartoonsClick To Tweet

Have you ever been in a situation where you have to reach out to a completely new audience? It can be a slow process.

Some time ago I wanted to attract the attention of people in a specific profession, (service designers, if you must know). I thought that they would be an interesting profession to work with as a visual communicator. The problem was that I didn’t have any connections into the service design world. So how can a complete service design nobody get the attention of as many designers as possible without wasting time chasing industry influencers or sending out cold emails?

Is that a woe I’m hearing? Excellent!

change management cartoon by

Change management summed up?

Over the years I’ve noticed that nothing resonates as much as seeing your pain reflected in a funny cartoon.

So I did some research (I went to a professional meetup), took some notes about the kind of problems and woes service designers tend to have and turned them into a cartoon infographic. I posted it on my blog and tweeted about it my mentioning couple of prominent service designers.

The infographic went viral (well, as viral as a niche piece of visual content can go), and I’ve now been proactively approached by dozens of people I might want to work with in the future.

So why go through a painful cold emailing/phone calling process when you can throw out a piece of content that resonates and take it from there?


Why did the illustration work?

Everybody wants to be listened to. Everybody wants to see that you’ve understood where they are coming from before they are willing to start a serious conversation with you.

Having eye-catching content is also important – especially if your audience doesn’t know you.  In my case having a visual was compulsory as our service is visual communication. But I could have used a similar approach even if I wanted to reach out to plumbers about taxation advice, or project managers about collaboration software.

To sum up:

  1. Listen to the woes
  2. Turn woes into content (visually engaging content if you are reaching out to a new audience)
  3. Start a conversation

Relevant for marketers and internal communicators alike

I’ve worked in communications roles most of my professional career – both external and internal. Almost always the goal is to “get our message out there”. But do the people “out there” want to listen to you? Why would they listen to you if you haven’t listened to them first..?

Let’s take internal communications. If a big change (restructure, merger etc) is looming in the horizon internal communications people are tasked to communicate this to staff. It’s usually a one-way communication street where no-one ever puts any real effort to listen to the employees and what their fears and concerns are. There might be a token gesture (town hall meetings etc), but listening to staff woes is never part of the internal comms content production process. It’s a shame because it would be quite easy weave in employees’ stories in communication campaigns. Especially now when social collaboration tools like Yammer and Slack are replacing email and making it easier to collect stories and take part in conversations.

Many marketers and sales people already know the power of content marketing – but how many of them have incorporated a woe piece in their content?


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