Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Want More Effective Marketing Content? Start by Defining Your Audience

If you want your business to get noticed, reinforce its credibility and ultimately win new customers, you probably know that you have to create an ongoing stream of high-quality marketing content. But what if you're already doing that, only to find that it's having no effect on your bottom line? It may be time to take a closer look at whether you're actually aiming that compelling content at the right people -- because if you aren't, then it isn't (compelling, that is).

Content Marketing for One

Drawing the clearest possible picture of your target audience involves getting as granular as you possibly can, visualizing not a specific industry, not a specific audience segment, but a specific person. It's no wonder that some of history's most successful authors pretended that they were writing for one particular individual; this approach clarified their approach, style and tone, while guaranteeing that at least one sort of reader would be electrified by the content. On a less elevated level, "King of All Media" Howard Stern has often said that he doesn't even try to entertain the whole world; instead, he focuses entirely on making co-host Robin Quivers laugh. The purer an image you have of your audience, the purer (and more effective) you can make your marketing content.

How do you create this ideal client or customer? Don't just use your imagination or instincts -- use data. Collect all the information you can about your current clientele's demographics, behaviors, likes/dislikes, geography, et cetera. Then distill all this information on paper in the form of an audience persona. There's a great sample here with no fewer than 50 relevant questions to help you build a detailed, if hypothetical, ideal target for your marketing content.

Finding the Right Words for Your Target Market

Specificity is critical regardless of which marketing channels you use. For instance, my networking group gives each member a moment during the meeting to describe his or her ideal referral for that week. That's a powerful marketing opportunity -- but not when the description consists of phrases such as "somebody who needs X" or "any company who could use help with Y." These folks aren't likely to get any referrals from me that week. Why not? Because "someone" or "anyone" doesn't give me a clear mental image of the person that networking partner wishes to get hooked up with. And if you're having trouble stating exactly who your ideal referral is, there just might be a chance that you haven't defined that image clearly enough in your own mind. Time to get to work on that audience persona!

Having that all that, I should point out that it's possible to make your parameters too narrow. For instance, I might declare that my ideal prospects are people with the job title of Marketing Coordinator. After all, marketing coordinators are the ones who assign marketing tasks such as content creation to professionals like me, right? But what about business owners -- don't they need the services of freelance copywriters and other marketing experts? Maybe I should step back a bit and name my ideal prospects as "marketing decision makers." This still gives me a well-defined chunk of the population to address, while ensuring that I don't accidentally exclude an important market.

Get clear on who you want to talk to, and finding the right words will come a lot more easily. If you're not a natural wordsmith, a professional marketing writer can help you craft powerful, persuasive statements aimed at that perfect prospect. But however you do it, get specific -- and get results!