It’s gonna be hard for you to give me what I want. For one simple reason: you haven’t asked me (your audience) what I want.

If you don’t know what I want or need, and it has changed from just six months ago, you’re not going to deliver content that is going to engage me.

Sure, you can guess from my role as head of a marketing and design firm, that content about latest trends in marketing and design will interest me. But you’d be wrong. I need info about certain marketing trends. (This quarter I am interested in where the experts think things are headed for mobile in the face of predictions that mobile use will eclipse desktop by next year. What new behavior patterns by our clients’ readers can we expect?)

Have you asked your audience what they want? What they want from you?

Wait, did you say: ‘We know our audience really well.’ Terrific, kudos to you!

Can you pull out data in just a few clicks of a mouse that answers these questions?
• What is the #1 reason our buyers chose to buy from us? (Substitute, if needed, “members chose to join us,” it is the same thing.)
• What are the top two barriers to buying from us?
• What is your buyer’s process of identifying and selecting you?

If you can’t get that data quickly, then while you may know a lot about your audience, you don’t know the salient things about them that will help you align your content to their needs. Other than in a very broad sense.

Sure, broadly they are interested in your content. You’re no dummy – you know them and you know the niche you’re in. But, gain a more specific and personal understanding of their needs and you’ll attract the right people and you’ll more effectively persuade them to take the right actions. Like attending, joining or renewing.

How You Can Learn What You Need

So how do you know more about your audience? Do you send out a survey and ask ‘what content do you want from us?’ You might, but your audience may not be able to answer the question directly.

I think a better approach is to understand their motivations surrounding their interest in choosing you. Combine that with how well you know their niche and then you can strategize about what they need. And tracking their consumption of your content will inform more about what they really want.

Maybe you have a group that eats up data: graphs or interactive infographics. Maybe your audience likes blog posts accompanied by video demonstrations of techniques. Or, perhaps they are more engaged if you post links to your content in channels they are already in, Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

With careful tracking you will learn what they want. And knowing what the data uncovers about what they want will position you to best anticipate what they need. And that is the holy grail of content marketing right there! Anticipating what they need before they know it themselves.

Why is that so important? Because if you can fill the need that no one else is, then you are their indispensible resource. And that can be directly correlated to ROI, like more buyers, members, or attendees.

Knowing your buyers perceptions will also help you attract the audience beyond your buyers, your future buyers. Compiling this specific data about your buyers is called creating a Buyer Persona: a marketing tool that is a data-driven profile of your content marketing target/s.

One Solution That Works

The Buyer Persona Institute calls the info we recommend you uncover about your buyers, the 5 Rings of Insight. Wooooweee, what a sharp tool you can create with their methodology, we are big fans! Here are the questions you need to know about your buyers in order to have a chance at your content hiting a home run with them:

  • Priority Initiatives
    What triggers the interest to look for a solution like yours?
  • Success Factors
    What results does this individual expect to achieve by purchasing your solution?
  • Perceived Barriers
    What might or does prevent them from choosing your solution?
  • Buyer’s Journey
    Who or what plays a role as this individual researches their options and selects one.
  • Decision Criteria
    Which aspects of the available services, solutions or companies does this individual value?

Without this specific understanding of your buyers’ perceptions, your marketing will be anemic. You won’t achieve all that you could. And then you will also face other problems that effective content marketing can address, like lack of retention or attendance. Or inability to connect the ROI of your content efforts to any kind of results.

Content Marketing Strategy Tenet #1: Know they audience.

By Monica Bussolati

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