“I always say I’m not the boss of this brand, our reader is. I think that’s critical.” – Jessica Pels, editor-in-chief, Hearst Magazines

We all have audiences. As individuals, as brands, as channels, as broadcasters.

They are viewers, clients, customers, friends, ambassadors, etc.

We have an audience for whom we want the best.

The last thing we want is to waste their time.

Why? Because if we do, they will leave.

For a media conglomerate like Hearst Magazines, this is a central pillar of their success (or failure): the capacity to attract, retain and grow an audience.

In a recent interview by Folio with Jessica Pels, editor-in-chief of Hearst Magazines, she laid out how they are putting the audience first in their entire strategy, how they are adapting, but very interestingly, how they manage dozens of content channels that go way beyond the print edition of Cosmopolitan.

For example, she polls her audience EVERY day. At this moment in time, smack in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, she knows that 50% are quarantined with their parents. Another 24% are with their significant other, 19% are alone and 7% are with roommates.

How is that for live data? This is what can definitely steer the brand’s editorial line towards something very different.

But this is not only in the hands of large brands with deep pockets.

When was the last time you surveyed your audience?

You could have an always-on surveying program, very simple, that runs all year long. A small popup with one or two questions on your website, a simple 1-minute survey sent by email to random customers. The possibilities are there, and it does not cost a lot.

This data will then feed into all corners of your business. It will inform what content to produce, what the next quarter will look like on social, what new features the product team should look into, etc.

Putting your audience first is making sure you know them, almost on a personal level.

And you don’t have to break the bank to get it started. We ourselves do it at Toast, on a regular basis, to know more about the reality of our audience, and we’ve done it with clients who looked at the results in awe: “So many things we thought we knew but that are different!”

Take a couple minutes and head over to Folio to read the interview. Very interesting.