Reaching Your Invisible Audience

As Mobile World Congress 2012 wrapped up in Barcelona last week, company announcements contributed further evidence to the growing innovation of mobile and communication technologies across the board. Described last week by InformationWeek as a “mobile melting pot,” the annual event represents companies from across the globe, with varying cultures, languages, business focuses and product offerings culminating in one location for one week. With this level of pioneering ideas spawning from continents from all hemispheres, it would be easy to assume that the needs and wants of nearly every consumer worldwide would be addressed by one of the products and/or services that were spotlighted at this year’s event. Especially in the realm of mobile communications, the idea is to appeal to the masses. Many have viewed smartphones as a gateway to placing innovation in the hands of everyday users.

But what these devices fail to recognize is the full scope of their potential audience. The Economist brought this challenge to the forefront last month when it acknowledged that users must be able to both read and write in order to gain the communication benefits of simply text messaging. Even with today’s function of text to speech transfer, this still excludes the population that is deaf or hard of hearing.

This got me thinking about a broader question: As communicators, are we capturing the attention and appealing to all of our audiences? How many people are we failing to effectively reach? All of a sudden the hundreds of communication platforms spanning from mobile, print, social media and beyond that we often complain about being overwhelmed by now serve a much greater purpose – to connect in a more meaningful way with a broader audience. Multimedia messages are beginning to help address the issue of communicating with an illiterate and/or hard of hearing population on a mobile platform, as The Economist points out. But what about the rest? Are we addressing the needs of all stakeholders when we cultivate a message?

This should make us all think twice when we’re trying to communicate a message, whether it is in our everyday lives or for business. Who are all of our audiences? Are we speaking to them directly? And, even more importantly, are we connecting with them as effectively as possible? Thanks to the many innovations that continue to be introduced to new markets across the globe, we all have a better shot of accomplishing these goals. But we also still have a long way to go.