Defining a Quality Report's Audience for Promotional Purposes

A key step in effective reporting is to identify the primary and other audience(s) you want to reach. Everything you do in designing your report should focus on what it will take to make your report relevant, understandable, and useful to your primary audience. Learn more about identifying and understanding your audience in Who Is Your Audience.

To promote your report well, you also have to direct your messages right at that audience. Their characteristics should drive your promotion decisions more than any other factor.

Narrowing How You Define Your Audience

Many sponsors think their audience includes everyone who might have a need for the particular aspect of health care the report covers. That definition is far too broad for effective promotion, and may even be too broad for effective report design. Selecting an audience is a strategic decision.

It is very difficult to reach everyone who might benefit from your report. You have to make a choice to narrow your audience definition so that you can tailor your report, and your promotion, to a particular group of individuals. Over time, report sponsors can gradually reach out to new audiences until they eventually do reach a broad range of individuals. At the outset, however, it is useful to focus on a clear target.

One important consideration has to do with what data you are planning to present. Different people will care more, or less, about different kinds of information. Some kinds of data might be of interest to a broad audience; other kinds of data will appeal only to certain people. Sometimes this is pretty obvious. For example, if you are providing information about a particular disease or condition, a natural target audience would be people with that condition and those who care for them. Sometimes it is less obvious. Who will care most about information about primary care physicians? On the one hand, we all should have a good primary care physician. On the other hand, certain people are more likely to visit a physician frequently and should care more than others.

Those with the Most Need

One option is to focus on the individuals who are most in need of your comparative information. For example, if you are rating hospitals, you might choose to focus on the people who use hospitals most frequently: older people and people with serious, even life-threatening, conditions. These are the people who would be likely to find your report relevant to them.

However, many people who are very sick do not have the energy to look through print reports or explore the Web. To reach the very sick, you may need to identify as your primary audience the family members and close friends who help take care of their health, and often help them make health-related decisions as well.

If you want to focus on older people as an audience, keep in mind that older Americans are less likely to have Internet access or feel comfortable navigating a Web site. While many older people are extremely Web-savvy and quite motivated to seek out information related to their health, they represent only a subset of older people. To reach many other older people, you may need to identify, as a primary or secondary audience, their children and others who help them make health care decisions.

Low-Hanging Fruit

Some marketing campaigns for new products or services begin by focusing on the “low-hanging fruit.” In the case of quality reports, the low-hanging fruit would be the people who are already fairly well motivated and able to use your report, either on their own behalf or for their loved ones.

For example, if you are rating primary care doctors, you might want to reach out to women who already look for and use health-related information on the Web, in print, or both. Women make most of the health care decisions in families. Given how busy most modern women are, you might want to emphasize that your report is easy and quick to use. You could also appeal to the concern women have for the health of their family and close friends.

EXAMPLE: Focusing a Campaign on a Narrowly Defined Audience

Sponsor: California HealthCare Foundation
To promote its CalHospitalCompare Web site, the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) focused a marketing campaign on an audience defined as women in the San Francisco Bay Area who were pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant. CHCF chose to make the campaign revolve around this audience in part because these women:

  • Will have to choose a hospital where they will give birth.
  • Are highly motivated to have a positive experience of childbirth.
  • Have the time, energy, and savvy to learn about their options.

Learn more about this campaign in Evaluating a Campaign to Promote

Also in "Acting Early to Ensure Effective Promotion"

Page last reviewed November 2018
Page originally created February 2015
Internet Citation: Defining a Quality Report's Audience for Promotional Purposes. Content last reviewed November 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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