The Audience Agency’s Oliver Mantell argues that there can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to audience segmentation.
Photo by Tim Fields used under Creative Commons
Consultants are like actors, in that we rely on a certain ‘suspension of disbelief’. Just as great acting performances are the ones where you don’t think ‘they’re such a good actor’, so the best consultancy doesn’t leave you constantly aware of how well they are ‘being a consultant’. However, just as anyone at a theatre who stood up, pointing, and said ‘they’re only acting’ would be roundly shushed, there’s a certain impropriety to pointing out about a consultant that ‘they would say that, wouldn’t they?’.
But occasionally, it’s appropriate to break that fourth wall, to reassure viewers that however impassioned what they see on stage is, they needn’t fear for Hamlet or Aida’s life, or rush onstage to help. Or that although the advice they’re getting is informed, expert and well-articulated, it’s not necessarily the full picture. Sometimes, as in the famous Monty Python clip below, you need someone to point out that ‘it’s only a model’.