Relating to Your Audience’s Mindset (Part 2)

Focus on Mindset

In my previous post, I gave examples of startups that were talking to everybody, so they were connecting with nobody. Knowing who your best-­fitting customers are helps you focus messaging on what truly resonates with them.

Who Do You Work With?

Now, imagine the entrepreneur who hears the question, “Who do you work with?” and boils their answer down to “people who want (the product/service I sell).” That answer indicates someone who knows their offer, but doesn’t know their best-­fitting customer and may have trouble communicating in a relatable way.

If my business Soulful Brand were to answer that question in a non-­relatable way, it would sound like this: “I work with businesses who want brand strategy.”

Just writing that makes me feel stiff and tense, bringing me back to all the times I did say things like that. I didn’t understand what a compelling presence or communication felt or sounded like. Or that business is not just about what catches people’s attention, it’s about connecting with people. At that time, I didn’t know how to connect with others.

Today, what I typically say to the question, “Who do you work with?” is something like: “I work with aspiring thought leaders who want to convey how they’re unique in the marketplace.

Notice I didn’t say “brand strategy” at all there—what matters first and foremost to me is the human beings I’m serving, not my method or technology. For me, and the kind of work I do, this approach feels more clear and compelling. Better still, I feel like more of a human being when I say it.

Focusing on the Mindset of Your Audience

When we speak of mindset and circumstance we’re in the realm of psychographics—the internal, subjective data that’s linked to our feeling brain. If we were focusing on their age or gender or job title, we’d be in the realm of demographics—the externally available, objective data that’s all about our logical brain.

Neither is better than the other, but in our culture, we’ve tended to lean on demographics (which are easier to find and measure) and not get very deep into psychographics. One reason for this, I believe, is that our culture is challenged when it comes to intimacy. We’re spending more and more time in connection with screens than we are with each other. Being willing to uncover psychographics is akin to making sustained eye contact—it can be uncomfortable, but the deep need for that real connection is undeniable.

When I help clients uncover the mindset of their best-­fitting customers, they’re putting themselves into the hearts and minds of others. It’s not just a good business practice for refining your message—it also happens to be a great exercise for becoming a more thoughtful person.

For the sake of comparison, notice the difference between these two extreme statements, the first featuring only demographics and the second only psychographics­:

  • Demographics: “I hear you’re an architect with a family of four, living in Portland, earning over $250k/year. Let’s talk.”
  • Psychographics: “I hear you’re looking to invest in some socially ­responsible mutual funds, but are a bit skeptical about the market these days. Let’s talk.”

Again, neither is better than the other. These are all gateways to finding customers and how we might connect with them more meaningfully. Let’s look at the realm of psychographics, the one we tend to shy away from…

Understanding Audience Mindset

Four Questions to Understand your Audience’s Mindset

Here are some questions to get you started that I’ve found useful. They’re all mindset-­based and intended to put you into the shoes of who you want to connect with in your marketing:


Consider the problem you solve and who needs that most: What level of skill do they have relative to solving that problem now? Are they beginners or advanced?

You will speak to and educate them differently based on this answer.

Example: “We solve the problem of miscommunication between freelance designers and their clients. They are mid­-level when it comes to communicating project expectations and updates.”


What do you believe that your potential customer would also need to believe about your area of expertise (or the world) in order to resonate with why your offer matters? Do they consciously believe that now or are they almost there and simply waiting for you to make a distinction for them?

Example: “We and our customers need to believe that a person can be strong, fit and independent at any age.


If your product or service is a stepping stone for them to get from where they are now to a new place, then how would THEY describe where they are now? What is going on for them that makes their current problem a problem?

HINT: To use language that they would use, try using “I” statements and pretend to answer on their behalf.

Example: “I am feeling disconnected from friends and family and unable to engage in conversations that feel meaningful.


What is your product or service going to enable them to do?

Make sure that it’s something they can’t do currently on their own AND that they would say they want to be able to do. Go beyond the goal of using your product or service—after using your product or engaging your service, what do they gain or achieve?

Again, try using “I” statements on their behalf here.

Example: “I’m connected to others in my organization and feel like an integral part of a cohesive community.

Everyone is not (yet) my potential customer.

With the belief that everyone is a potential customer, I have too many choices to sift through for where to put my marketing time and dollars. If I could go anywhere and put my message in front of anyone, how do I know where to begin? And when I’m there, how will I relate?

Remember, what makes a message compelling is not just about clarity and powerful language. You can craft some phrases that seem to make your product shine, but if you don’t truly understand who you’re speaking to, then you’ll only be able to talk about what you’re selling.

This is a crucial rule of any great communication: know your audience. Get to know their mindset and convey how your offer may fit into their lives. In this way, you can practice a more authentic form of connecting in the marketplace.

Do you know of other questions to help uncover an audience’s mindset? Add your suggestions in the comments below!

About Matthew Sloane

Matthew Sloane is a student and teacher of authentic communication in the marketplace. He is a co-founder, brand consultant, and leadership coach for Soulful Brand, preparing entrepreneurs and business leaders to stand out with a unique message in their market, while staying true to themselves. View all posts by Matthew Sloane Web site →
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