Understand my audiences

Understanding and engaging with the people who will eventually use your innovation is essential to make sure it will meet their needs.

As you begin to explore your innovation, there is one group of people it is especially important for you to get to know: those it will be designed for.

Understanding people’s lives and listening to their concerns is the best way to uncover their needs, which in turn can suggest areas where innovation is possible and/or necessary. This means that engaging with the existing and potential audiences for your innovation is vital to ensure that you develop something that works and will meet their needs.

Engaging well in order to develop really valuable insights can be tricky, and there are some fundamental elements that you need to get right. Your audience will be varied and many of them hard to reach, and you should actively seek out those people rather than relying only on easily accessible intelligence.

Traditional surveys, interviews and focus groups may not be effective ways of helping you to develop the depth of understanding you need. In order to capture a realistic picture of how your potential customers think, feel and act, you need to find ways to engage them in their own context.

Finally, it’s fundamental to seek the input of potential customers early on. New insights about customer needs and preferences are at the heart of successful innovations, so the earlier in the process you access them the better.

There are various methods that you can use to get to know your audience better. For example observational research, such as ethnography, is a more powerful way of gaining an insight into people’s attitudes and behaviours than traditional methods such as surveys or interviews.

User journey mapping is a technique that can give you a rich picture of your customer’s experience and can highlight problems in the way a service or product is currently designed. Actively involving your customers in gathering and analysing data, for example by using community researchers, can also be a useful approach.

The relationships you build through these activities will be valuable throughout your innovation process, so you should nurture and develop them.