Embracing Rowan Made's Different Audiences

For almost as long as I’ve been designing, I’ve also been blogging and / or teaching in some way, shape, or form. And while I call myself a designer by trade, this particular label has begun to feel a bit off. Yes, it describes what I spend the majority of my time doing. But it also alienates Rowan Made’s “educational” side … something that I actually enjoy quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong, this blog and the community I’ve established through social media is very much alive and well. But from my perspective, it all feels a bit messy. You see, there are two distinct audiences that I interact with on a daily basis.

The first is our one-on-one crowd. Also known as, the people who are in need of Rowan Made’s design services. These individuals often visit our website to learn more about our process, sift through work, and in general, get to know who we are. And if they choose to move forward, we guide them through a tailored process in order to produce thoughtfully refined design.

Our second audience, on the other hand, is a crowd of many. Also known as, our online community. These are the people who faithfully follow along on both our blog and social media accounts. They interact, discuss, and often become regulars around here (yes, I notice!!).

As you can imagine, there is some overlap between these two audiences. Where some of our clients are, in fact, community members as well. And visa versa. But for the most part, I’m required to be conscious of both audiences, which brings me right back to that messy feeling I mentioned above.

Okay. Maybe messy isn’t the right word. It’s more of a balancing act. Yeah, let’s go with that. ;)

For awhile, I thought this meant that I could only speak to one audience at a time, as to not confuse anyone or myself. But over the past year, as our community grew, I started embracing the overlap a whole lot more.

As it turns out, our people, whether they’re clients or readers (or both), have a lot more in common than not, and it all comes down to one key phrase: like-mindedness. The majority of these individuals either own their own business, or are looking to start one in the near future. So yes, sometimes that means they’ll need our design services. But most (if not all) of them can also benefit from the things we share, write, and teach online.

The overlap was always there, it just took me awhile to sort out and fully embrace, bear hug style. But now that I’m doing it, I couldn’t imagine thinking of our audience any other way. Aligned, as one.


So now, it’s your turn. You may already have a good handle on who your people are, but humor me and give this exercise a try. It’s something that I have all of Rowan Made’s clients do and the response is always eye opening.

* I’ll follow up the exercise with my own answer as an example …

(Q) Pretend your audience is one person and describe them in detail. Give them a name and answer questions like: what kind of house do they live in? Where do they shop? What kind of music do they listen to? What are their biggest problems, needs, and wants? What are they passionate about? Etcetera etcetera. Use your imagination and get creative:

(A) Frankie is 26 years old. She lives in a beautiful old apartment (built ins and all) in Minneapolis with her boyfriend, Oliver, and their dog, Twix. After working as a designer at a big time agency for several years, she finally had enough of the go go go atmosphere and went off on her own. Now, she brands small businesses around the world from her home studio and can’t imagine going back to the 9-5.

She feels the weight of running her own business every single day, but has the work ethic to push through and pursue her dreams. This can lead to workaholic tendencies (more often than she’d care to admit), but she tries her best to maintain a sense of balance between work and life.

Frankie believes in continued education as well as community over competition. She signs up for online courses that she believes are in alignment with what she needs, and has established a handful of strong relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs online. All of this helps her learn and grow within her own business every single day.

When she’s not working, you’ll find her practicing yoga at the neighborhood community center, planning upcoming trips, or hosting dinner parties with close friends and family. Frankie, however, is also a by the books introvert, so she’s happy to snuggle up with a bowl of ice cream and a good movie, too. Garden State is her favorite.

Frankie is currently learning how to enjoy the here and now. She has lofty goals and big dreams, but realizes that tomorrow is never guaranteed, so she may as well enjoy today. She doesn’t need a million dollars or followers. She just wants to do what she loves, in a way that feels right. It’s as simple as that.

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As you can see from the above example, I just got SUPER specific about Rowan Made’s audience. Sure, not everyone in our tribe is going to have the same description, but there are certainly some common threads to be found:

— Creative
— Hard working
— Mindful
— Introvert
— Business owner (or to be owner)
— Simple
— Kind

Now, keeping this in mind … does it really matter if the above attributes describe one of our clients or a reader of this blog? Nope, not really. Like-mindedness is what connects our people, and I think that’s a really cool thing.

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Just remember: you don’t have to be everything to everyone. But you also don’t have to be only one thing to one type of person, either. Your audience is unique, just like you. So take some time and give this exercise a try! I know it requires you to be a bit more imaginative than other exercises … but that’s where the magic is. ;)

PS. I’m curious to hear about what you find out and if anything surprised you after working through this exercise. If so, let me know in the comments!