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Knowing Your Audience

Knowing Your Audience

Don’t make assumptions about your audience. You need to be aware that what you know and have experienced, is not necessarily the case for others.

“Before you abuse, criticize and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes.”

He thought I knew; I didn’t.

My business partner recently taught a couple of people about content marketing. While teaching, he learnt something himself, which lead to him writing a blog post called ‘blog vs blog post’. Therein he mentions how he was surprised how many people didn’t even know the difference. The reason he was so surprised is because, for him, it was incredibly obvious; why would he even need to explain the difference?

This is what happens when you make assumptions about your audience. You need to be aware that what you know and have experienced, is not necessarily the case for others. Being a teacher, I know this all too well, and that’s why it’s vital to really know who you’re addressing and what their limits are. So before slapping yourself on the head at another’s lack of knowledge, remember that you, too, were once in that place. So where am I going with all this?

Buyer persona

Most people think of the customer as the person who pays for a product or service, and technically, that’s true. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person paying the bill is the person making the decision. Ask yourself who really chooses the Nesquik over the Muesli: mum or child? Who is the real decision maker? Whose problem do you actually need to solve?

Success depends on knowing who your customer really is and what the problem really is. Many business ideas stem from a personal belief that a product or service is good. The creator falls in love with his own creation. How is a business going to grow if the number one customer is you? It’s like locking yourself in a room and holding tight to the key. That’s not how business works. A product or service needs to be designed and coordinated to fit the needs of a target audience.

You don’t grow your business; your customers grow your business.

It’s no good launching a product and just hoping for the best that somebody out there will buy it.

First, you need to know your customer, and get inside their heads. Why do they want or need your product? How will it improve the quality of their lives? Why is your product better for them than that of your competitors? Doing this is no easy task. This requires market research, which is costly. Or is it?

Many start-ups are limited to very low budgets and have to crawl through a lot of slimy sewage before they see any light and breathe some fresh air. However, there are some cheap ways to do effective market research which will guide your start-up to finding your target audience and customer sentiment. What I want to focus on for now is content marketing. For those unaware of what content marketing is, I mentioned it in one of my previous blog posts:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Source: Content Marketing Institute.

By producing content for an audience, eventually those who stick around and absorb your content regularly will become your target market. These are the people you can then contact and ask them to do an opinion poll or questionnaire. Your audience will probably be happy to do it, and their results will be somewhat similar and reliable. This would lead to a coherent correlation in the results. This is not too costly, but it takes time. A long thread of fruitful content would be needed on a regular basis in order to keep your audience interested and intrigued. Content such as a daily / weekly blog or video is a popular way to keep your audience informed. Another great way – and somewhat related – is checking and analyzing trends.

There are a number of really good ways to check the quality of your or others’ content. Such analysis could show whether or not a particular piece of content – say an article – is often shared on social media portals. For instance Squidility can show you that.

The more often the content is shared the better the quality of the content. It would be very handy to get hold of such a tool which would allow such data to be analyzed. Not only could you check if your content is of any quality, but you could also see if your competitor is having any success. By comparing the content and their level of success, you’d be able to know how to improve your content in order to get similar results. You’d be able to find out what people are really interested in and what motivates them to pass on your content on a public scale. You’d learn how to shape your product in order to fit the needs of your buyer.

As the cliché goes: a product made for everyone is a product made for no one. With content marketing and content analysis, you’ll build and master your buyer persona. Your audience will come looking for you rather than you go looking for them.

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