asparagus-largeI hate asparagus. I know it’s a delicacy, it’s pretty and it’s expensive, but I just can’t stand it. I also hate duck. I’ve had it prepared both by a gourmet cook with a delicious sauce and in a spicy gumbo. Still, duck = yuck. Finally, at the risk of losing my Southerner card, I cannot stand potato salad. Love potatoes, but mix it all up with the mayonnaise and, no, thank you.

I’m guessing you have at least three food yucks as well. Imagine you’re invited to an elegant dinner party at a friend’s home. You sit down to an exquisite table, and the host proudly tells you he’s prepared his favorite meal just for you. There’s a lovely glass of wine, candlelight, and on the fine china in front of you is a meal consisting of … duck, asparagus and potato salad. [insert your three yucks here]

You’ve made the trip to your friend’s house for dinner and you’re starving, but there is nothing on the plate in front of you that you can eat. It’s obvious he has spent hours preparing the meal and the setting, so you politely you make awkward conversation, push the vile food around on your plate and leave hungry.

The host’s mistake was preparing his favorite meal. He didn’t ask for your preferences, he built an evening around his own personal tastes. While it might have made a great magazine feature, the dinner party failed miserably and the guest went home hungry.

Think about your website, your print materials, signage, logo and copy — the pieces that make up your image. Did you approach their design and creation as our unfortunate host prepared his dinner party, ignoring the preferences of your audience to cater to your own tastes? Do your readers leave hungry or satisfied and looking forward to the next dinner?

It’s often difficult to separate our own tastes from that which appeals to our audience. A favorite color or preference for a certain style can cloud our ability to think outside ourselves.

Your audience will not be as polite as our dinner guest; they’ll just leave and you will probably never know why. Here are three ways to make your party communications more guest friendly.

  1. Ask for opinions and listen to them. Show your ideas to others, preferably from your target audience or demographic.
  2. Hire a professional and trust them. Help them understand your audience, your business and your competition, then listen to their recommendations. They are almost certainly objective than you and are less likely to impose their personal preferences.
  3. Give more thought to what you put on the plate than the table setting. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your communications are, if your copy is rotten, it’s all for naught. Have a professional review your copy for errors, consistency and style.

And please, skip the asparagus. Yuck.

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