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Perform an Audience Needs Analysis

What emotional problem does your advertiser solve for its customer?

You may be familiar with the “Client Needs Analysis,” a conduit for vital information from the client to the creative team, even if you’re that team.

Is there anything wrong with this? It often leaves out the most important part of the radio success equation: the audience members.

Without including what they need, we may be defeating ourselves and shortchanging the client. Why not an Audience Needs Analysis?

Why did they come into your client’s store? What made them decide to stay? Go ask them. iStockphoto/Juanmonino

Field research

“What does your audience need?”

Put yourself in their shoes. Buy something at the client’s store, or over the phone, or online. Eat at the restaurant, visit the club or shop there. Do the same with their competitors.

What’s the purchasing experience like? Look for unique qualities, services, approaches and people.

For deeper learning, stand outside the client’s business and ask 20 customers why they bought there. This will be very revealing; you’ll learn things even the client doesn’t know.

Ask why they purchased at this company. The reasons may be quite different from what the client expects. What needs did they bring to the advertiser?

Listen for the unique, the emotional connections. When those come up, go deeper. Get enough information to create a story — about their needs and how the advertiser can help them satisfy them.


Talk with the client, too, and record the conversations as well as take notes. This will give you the information you need to create years of successful campaigns.

You may not need all these questions, but here are some possibilities. Ask:

What do you like to do for fun?

What is your family like?

What goals do you have for the business? Do you want to expand it? Consolidate it? Sell it? Pass it on to your heirs? Sell it to your employees? Move it? Open branches all over the world?

What do you hate about the business? Love about it?

What keeps you awake at night? The good, the bad, the ugly.

What do you do that’s special and different that no one knows about?

What secret recipes, techniques, skills or history do you have?

Any interesting or unusual customer stories? What’s the most surprising, unusual thing that’s happened to you or to one of your customers?

What do your competitors have that you don’t?

What do you have that your competitors don’t?

Why do you think people shop here?

How does the listening audience perceive your business? (Ask for best and worst scenarios.)

How does your audience feel now?

How would you like them to feel?

The most important question to ask: What emotional problem does the advertiser solve for the customer? Keep going deeper until you get an appropriate answer.

Better prices, convenience or technical assistance don’t count. Peel the onion. The answer will be a basic need: love, acceptance, validation, etc. This will be the core to build your campaign around.

How does the advertiser fulfill that need? This is the second element to build your story around.Create a commercial that addresses where customers are now and what takes them to a better place.

Listen for stories. As you talk with your client, listen for unique anecdotes with emotional content that you or your creative department can flesh out into a continuing campaign.

Audiences for various advertisers will have specific needs; but in general, they need help, information, entertainment and emotional support. They need to find meaning in a sea of information, simplicity and order out of the chaos and information overload of their lives. They need care, respect and comfort.

They’d rather have invitations than demands. They’d like to come to their own conclusions, make their own choices, be led, not pushed into making a buying decision. They’d like to be talked to, not at. They need to have secrets shared with them. They need to be treated as individuals.

Contact Jeffrey Hedquist at Hedquist Productions. Phone (641) 472-6708 or email [email protected].