The single most important part of content marketing is knowing your audience, or more specifically, your target audience. Everything that is created as part of a content initiative needs to be developed with the target audience in mind.
Sometimes though, the question is not whether or not you know your audience, but whether or not you’ve realized that you have more than one audience, each with different needs.
Trying To Market To An Overly Broad Audience
A huge mistake that many companies make with their content marketing efforts is trying to cater to multiple audiences with the same content. For example, you might see a computer distributor who works with heavy industry, small businesses and private consumers trying to capture those three distinct audiences with one blog and one email newsletter.
They decided that their audience is computer users. They didn’t break it down far enough to realize that they’ve actually got three separate audiences with very different needs. Trying to engage all three of these buyer personas in one place is never going to work. The buyers in heavy industry are not going to be interested in content that appeals to private consumers and vice versa.
When content and information are presented in this way everything gets watered down. You end up with too little specific information to satisfy any one audience, and too much irrelevant information that alienates them all. The image that gets conveyed to your readers is one of being a know-it-all. You know just enough about many little things to speak on them, but not enough about any one thing to be considered an expert. With content marketing we want to be seen as the expert, not the know-it-all.
Narrow Down Your Target
It doesn’t matter what the main goal of your content campaign is, whether it’s selling products, selling advertising or generating fresh leads; if it’s not targeted specifically you will not achieve the results you want. You can start to zone in on who your core audience is going to be by asking a few questions as you go about developing your content.
Who? – Who is the audience going to be for this content? Consider the platform that you will be using to deliver the content, such as a blog post, email newsletter or print. Decide on the type of buyer persona that you want to target. Get as detailed as possible with your target. Don’t think laptop computer user. Think more like, first time college student looking for an affordable and extremely portable laptop that will get through at least two years of school.
Why? – Why are you developing this content? What is the goal you want to see achieved? Do you want to sell more product, generate new leads or just create more brand awareness? Have a specific goal in mind during the creation process that will allow you to measure its effectiveness.
What’s The Value? – What is the specific value that this content is giving to the reader? Does it inform them of something, solve a problem for them, make their life better or easier somehow? If there is no value to the reader, they have no reason to be interested, or more importantly, to share the information they’ve found.
Is It Unique? – Is the information that you’re providing unique in some way? It can be the information itself or the presentation technique used to convey the information, but there should be something unique about the content you’re producing. Would your audience notice if you suddenly stopped producing this type of content? Could they just as easily find it somewhere else? Why should they keep coming back to you? These are all things to think about.
Hitting Multiple Targets
Something that you’ll notice about these four basic questions is that if you change the answer to the first question, all of the other answers will change as well. If you are developing content and you can come up with multiple answers to that first question of who?, it could be well worth your time to consider that you may need to develop more than one type of content or risk losing all of your audiences.
If you find that you do have more than one audience you’re working with, you don’t necessarily have to make things complicated. Some things to consider might be splitting a general blog into two or three more specific and targeted blogs, or giving visitors the option to choose between a corporate and private consumer newsletter.
The main idea is that you want to speak to each audience as if you are speaking only to them. You want to be the authority that they look to for the type of content you provide.
You may find that you don’t really want to speak to all of the audiences you discover, and that’s fine too. Just make sure you’re speaking clearly and directly to the ones you do want to engage.
What do you think? A penny for your thoughts! Leave a comment below.