Why audience matters more than ever.
Companies are constantly hearing that content is mission critical. Faced with industry peer pressure, it’s hard to ignore the burning desire to simply churn out more of the stuff. The problem with the content crush, however, is that many businesses are working so hard to create so much content to satisfy search engine optimization demands and social media expectations that they’re losing sight of who they’re really talking to: audiences. Remember those?
As businesses wrestle with the quantity versus quality issue in the area of content creation, we’re finding that companies begin to lose “followers” if the messages they’re developing don’t actually speak to clearly identified audience segments. Clients and customers are inundated with information so they become very choosey about what they’ll actually read. If your company’s content is not compelling enough or is not hitting on a pain point that your audience is actually grappling with, chances are they’ll start to tune you out too.
The solution? Get back to basics. Revisit your audience profiles or start to develop pinpointed “personas” if you’ve never been through the exercise. The key is to consider both demographics of the decision-makers or gatekeepers, but also psychographics. And by that we mean analyzing triggers like what they need, what they value, what motivates them, what they’re struggling with, what their expectations are, etc. These kinds of deeper, more meaningful customer insights will ultimately help you fine-tune content and communicate in a way that positions your company as helpful source of information rather than a surface player in the game of content.
An in-depth audience analysis usually starts with lots of questions. For example, we help our clients to define existing and prospective audience profiles as both categories (how they fit in a cultural group) and individually as people (decision-maker’s/participant’s/influencer’s position, age, gender, background, attitudes, education, sophistication level, technology savvy, etc.). We follow that line of thinking with more specificity: What does each target market care about most? What has always frustrated/disappointed your audiences? Where/how do you expect your audiences to find you?
An audience discovery session can be an eye-opening experience full of new takeaways for dialing in future communications. It also exposes holes in your knowledge about things like decision-making processes, buying cycles, pain points, corporate hierarchy, and states of mind.
In a world of increasingly mass-produced content, the topics, tone and delivery of your brand’s communications must demonstrate that you understand your audiences—maybe a little deeper than you thought. Without audience acumen as a directional foundation, you may just be churning content for content sake. And that will only work to undermine your original intent.