Audiences with Different Levels of Knowledge

A business seldom has a single client group to communicate with. The pool of information for a given set of product and services often needs to be pressed into different combinations for different client/audience groups; each with different needs and expectations.

  • How familiar are they with the subject matter?
  • How open are they to new information?
  • Do they want to be enlightened (and potentially challenged)?
  • Or do they want reassurance and affirmation of what they already know?

These questions inform how much fact to present, how much tempering you may need, and how much (and what sort of) emotive content to wrap the whole thing up in.

Level of Knowledge

Communication Content

Deep knowledge: Critical thinking, questioning, discovery, intuition and specialist knowledge.

Specialists in your field. Prosumers. Very aware of technical details.

Go heavy on the facts and rational arguments – you’d better have the solid data to backup the claims.

Eg: Technology sell-sheets with detailed specs.

Smart knowledge: Functional level of critical thinking, intuition, and a range of general knowledge.

Adaptable, effective people. Able to think for themselves. Sensitive to misinformation, spin and scams.

Provide a balance of emotional engagement backed up with enough logic and real facts.

Eg: Material that would pass Choice Magazine’s scrutiny.

Rote knowledge: Rote-learnt, uniform and consistent knowledge; facts and rules-based.

Blind trust in others, especially those in power, to hand down knowledge. Prefer simplified black and white information. Not inclined to question.

Simplify facts into clear-cut, black and while scenarios. And wrap with feel-good emotional reassurances.

Eg: Labels like “Low Fat”, “No Cholesterol” and “Heart Safe.”

Unaware ignorance: Don’t know what they don’t know.

Not expecting to be challenged. But may be open to learning when the opportunity is presented appropriately.

Lead with material to appeal to the emotional. Repeat and reinforce. NLP anyone?

Eg: Infomercials!

Wilful ignorance: Rigid and inflexible; active denial of contrary information regardless of facts.

Fundamental beliefs such as Pi=3 and the sun is closer to Earth than the moon.

Highly targeted with specific emotional stroking. Link your material to, and reinforce their reality. Avoid challenging.

Eg: Survival guides for people who believe the end is nigh.

Appealing to the emotions is always a component in any communications as we are emotional animals. And of course, the common wisdom of writing for your audience, addressing their pain, and making your communications about them and not you, still stands.

Written by Zern Liew for Eicolab. All rights reserved. This resource has been provided “as-is” and without warranty. Please use it at your own risk. Use is subject to these conditions. If you have found this useful, please send feedback to Check out my blog for more material.