How do you create great content? The first step isn’t writing or recording it. It’s understanding your target audience. You can have wonderful perfectly optimized content. If you aren’t clear on your audience though, you’ll miss the mark. So yes, you’re going to have to put a pause on creating content for a second until you’re clear on just who you’re writing (or recording) for.
Buyer Persona Research is the Key to Targeted Content
Try to appeal to everyone, and you’ll appeal to no one. You want people to land on your pages and feel like you’re speaking just to them. In order to do that, you have to create targeted content. Of course, you have to recognize your target in order to do this.
Know your audience. Who are you writing for? I’ve written an entire post on the importance of buyer personas, and how you can start creating your own. Buyer personas go beyond demographic information. That’s normally where you have to start. Great buyer personas contain buyer insights.
Buyer personas should always evolve. This is why you should document them, so as your understanding of your target audience deepens, so does your buyer persona information. That document really comes in handy when you hire outside marketing help.
Knowing who your ideal customer is helps you sell better too. When you know someone wouldn’t benefit from your service or product, you can tell them so, and your own credibility goes up. I’ve had consultations with clients who describe their business model to me, and I’ve told them that they don’t need my services. I’ve honestly told people how they can manage their own content until their business warrants a full-blown content marketing strategy and production.
Why would I do that? Because marketing is one of those services that doesn’t work on its own. It needs the investment of everyone involved. There are things that you’d like to have, but your business model doesn’t support it (I’ve been there). Or maybe your budget doesn’t support it (I’m still there!).
It’s kind of like picking a house. What if you connected with a realtor who insisted they knew of the perfect house for you without asking you what you wanted? If you were the realtor, would you take a couple to see houses without asking about their needs and wants? What if you take them to see 3-bedroom homes in a nice HOA community when what they need is a 5-bedroom house and they want a few acres?
Check Out Your Best Customers Online
Most of us have at least a few customers. Some are great, and some aren’t. But you want to use your best customers in order to better inform your buyer persona profiles. I define “best customers” like this: If all of your customers could be like these people, you’d be in heaven.
Use Google to Scope Them Out
First thing’s first: Use Google and look these people up. Check out where they are online. This can show you some of their online profiles and websites that they’re named on. If they’re involved in volunteer efforts, then it’s worth exploring whether or not that’s something more of your ideal customer base is interested in. You may also find indications of hobbies. If you Google me, for example, you’ll find my fitness competition photos, videos from my training, posts I’ve written about knitting. And maybe even my gardening blog!
You’ll Find A Lot of Data on Social Media
Next, you should check out their social media profiles. People have a lot more public (even on platforms like Facebook) than they realize. This is a great opportunity for persona building. A lot of people take pictures with their families, which may help you understand the sort of lifestyle your target audience typically leads.
- Are they normally single or do they have kids?
- Do they love to travel? Nationally or internationally?
- Do they have pets?
How might you use this information? If my best customers love to travel, then I might write a blog post on how you can use your vacation photos in your content marketing on Instagram. I’m still talking about content marketing, but by including the fact that my best customers love to travel in my buyer persona profile, I’ll appeal immediately to more people like them.
Sometimes your content doesn’t tie directly to your services or products at all. And that’s okay. Your content isn’t meant to sell. It’s meant to build a relationship. That connection is how you will create new relationships and maintain current ones.
Look at what your customers are posting, who they follow, and how they interact. Like tends to attract like. So if you’re building a B2B buyer persona, you may find some trends across your best customers’ LinkedIn profiles. If you see that many of them like to share videos, then it may benefit you to record a few and share a few videos yourself. Your best customers can help you expand your reach when you share content that appeals to them.
What Problems Does Your Target Customer Have?
What sorts of problems do your target customers have? You can use this information to build your buyer personas. Your target audience’s goals can be the flip side to their problems. It depends on how they express it. You want to make sure you explore everything from multiple angles. I can say that I can’t seem to lose weight (problem), or that I’d like to get more fit (goal).
How they express their problems and goals is important. You can use their language back at them. This is true for more than just your content. Your advertisements and in-store signage benefit from this sort language as well. Don’t forget about any Facebook or Google Ads you choose to run. Buyer personas can increase the effectiveness of your entire marketing and sales strategy.
Where Can You Find Your Customers Talking About Their Problems?
So we’ve already talked about social media, but where else can you find your customers (or future customers) talking about their concerns, goals, and hopes? Online forums are one place. Search for any potential customer hot buttons or goals on websites like Quora. If it’s B2B, then you may find a lot of great information in LinkedIn or Facebook groups.
Your customer service emails may contain a treasure trove of information as well. What about your company reviews? Sometimes reviewers start their review with “I was looking for….” or “I was struggling with” or similar sentiments. Pay attention to these. You may find problems you weren’t aware of.
What Problems Does Your Company Solve?
Not what services you sell, but what problems do you solve? Let’s say you sell hats. The types of hats you sell will tell me what kinds of problems you solve. Do you sell HR services? Then maybe the problem you solve is for the busy business owner who doesn’t have a big enough budget to hire an HR person but has grown big enough to need HR help.
Frame Your Solutions Within Your Customer’s Problems
Here comes some inspiration for great content. If you’ve identified your customer’s problems, you can use that. You can frame your solutions within your customer’s problems. You can describe their problems, show that you understand them, and immediately hook them. When you talk about your customer’s problems, you appeal to their old brain. Your customer will use their logic brain (or new brain) to explain why they should hire you (or not). But the decision is really made in the old brain. You need to engage that old brain in order to gain new clients or customers.
I know it can be difficult, but I promise, if you work at understanding your ideal customer, not only will your content get better, you’ll find more “best” customers than you know what to do with!
Is it time for your business to have a developed content marketing strategy? Click here to get started with our B2B Content Marketing Workbook.