How to manage diverse stakeholder landscapes.

Ever taken the initiative and started an email conversation with a bunch of friends about a dinner date only to be amazed by how little people agree on? No wonder we don’t get out as much as we used to!

We shouldn’t be surprised by diverse interests but we are. We don’t look the same, sound the same, marry the same or dance the same as our best friends. It comes down to worldview. Why don’t the others get it?

Recently I peeled an orange. Once the skin and the pith were removed, it came apart beautifully. From a compact whole to a scattering of segments – some juicy, some dry, some pipped, some small, some large.

Segments. Sometime in the glorious past of commerce, a quantitative researcher went to work developing methods of breaking down markets into customer groups called ‘segments’.


It’s easier to market to people (and less risky) when you can group and define them by:

  • Geographics – location, climate, laws/regulations
  • Demographics –  gender, age, income, education, language,  ethnicity
  • Psychographics –  lifestyle, personality, attitude, values, beliefs and social ‘class’

Public relations experts go a few steps further and segment communication message, channels and tools by each customer segment and the people that influence their decisions.

Not only does it provide confidence to management that the pitch will work, it eradicates the waste – you don’t spend money on mass market advertising campaigns when you can reach people more effectively by other means.

Trouble is, most of the time we don’t have time or a budget for detailed market segmentation. We’re lucky if we have time to scratch the worn-out seat of our pants.  While our lives get busier, the internet has introduced a plethora of new channels and complex networks. Everyone has a different preference on how they liked to be reached.

Back to the dinner date analogy – do you create a Facebook group, mail out a nice print postcard, try email or use SMS?

There are a number of things we’ve learned about communicating to people of diverse interest and habit:

  • Find the pith. What is it that glues your customer segments together? A defining activity, a common form of media, a shared sense of indignation?
  • Re-purpose for market segment and efficiency. At the agency we have a mantra ‘the nine lives of content’. Thrash it till it can’t be used any more! Develop a blog article in the knowledge you will send it packing via print materials, the company website, social media, a press release, the annual report etc. If it’s worth sharing, it’s worth sharing far and wide, and more than once.
  • Get online and map directories or social networks. A few hours work and you’ll have a strong understanding of a localised or interest based market. You can quickly see what is trending on Twitter or getting the most engagement on LinkedIn.
  • Get some tools in your communicators toolkit. There are many cloud based project management tools that assist in planning tasks, timing their delivery and managing in-house and outsourced resources. Try Harvest, Teamwork or Basecamp.
  • No matter how old people are, don’t define them by age. Find a common interest which then may trend highly in certain age brackets.
  • Sometimes, picking up the phone is still the most effective way of demonstrating you care, getting some useful psycho/demographic data and gaining the OK for ongoing engagement via email.

The cycle to remember is IDEA:  Investigate, Develop, Engage, Account. From insight to refinement. A systematic approach will get you to market in the most cost effective way.

For more information on cost effective market research and public relations, call us.