Understanding your audience—it’s a fundamental pillar of marketing and advertising. It’s also really helpful in, well… life.

In order to influence others, you must understand them. Who are they? What’s important to them? What do they believe in? What motivates them?

As a coach for a 7th and 8th-grade girls volleyball team, my audience was admittedly new to me. But, I’ve been in their shoes, playing volleyball, keeping up on who likes who (and how it’s changing week to week), jumping in and out of minivans for evening practices. I’ve been there.

But, I was not the expert on tapping into teenage girls’ brains that I thought I would be. I had yet to identify what makes them tick.

I needed to spend some time with them. Throughout the season I was observant as I tried every motivational technique. Making them run sprints as a punishment—not very successful. Channeling my inner hot head—also not successful nor recommended for this audience.

My audience, demographics, and geographics aside I seek a personal connection early on. They are not quick to trust. They need to feel that I have their best interest at heart. They care about status and will compare theirs to their peers’. They won’t just work hard because I say so. They need to know why.

I implemented the techniques that would work for my audience. I took my insight and applied tactics to position me as an influencer and motivator. I expressed praise and affirmation. I paid attention to each player individually. I occasionally allowed for some Justin Beiber to play during practice and I sent game day treats into school with personal notes. I spent time one-on-one telling each of them how important and talented they are. And, then I saw the results I had been looking for.

Step 1: develop insight about your audience.

Step 2: apply what you know.

Step 3: turn on the tunes and make your audience dance.

Spend some time with your audience. Tap into them and develop insight. Identify what motivates them, what doesn’t and why. Then, being an influencer becomes natural. Figure out what makes them tick before you pitch your marketing, sale, presentation or idea. Your pitch might be great, but it will be lost if you don’t know your audience.