Do This Before You Create ANY Content
Lately I’ve been having a lot of phone calls with companies — big and small — that go something like this:
Them: “We’re so excited to get going on this project! Our marketing strategy is still ‘under construction,’ but this white paper is going to kick everything off nicely.”
Me: “Great! I’m excited to write this for you. Now, first things first. Who’s the target audience?”
Them: “Well, we haven’t figured that out yet. Probably the C-Suite and developers, but we’re not 100% sure.”
Me (inwardly cringing): “Hmm. Okay. Well, the C-Suite and developers are two very different audiences with very different needs and very different problems. We’ll really need to zero in on your specific audience — industry, role, etc. — before we can get started on this project.”
Them: “Oh. Okay. Yeah, market research is on the list of to-dos for the year, but it’s going to be a while before we can get to it. Can you still write this white paper?”
Me: “I really think you need to do your market research first, before we start this project. I don’t want to waste your budget on an asset that won’t show any ROI for you — and if I don’t know who, specifically, the target audience is … well, I’m writing to nobody. And nobody is exactly who is going to read the content and engage with your company because of it.”
Oof. That’s never a fun conversation to have. Especially when it’s with a company I would LOVE to work with.
And it’s not just the startups who are diving head-first into creating content without any sense of their target audience. Even established companies and enterprise corporations sometimes jump the gun.
I never want to dissuade someone from creating quality content to support their marketing and sales initiatives. But without an audience, you’re shouting into the void. And that’s a big, fat waste of marketing budget.
To build those long-term customer relationships and get measurable results for your business, your market research, marketing strategy, and content production should all work hand-in-hand.
While there’s always a bit of trial and error in any marketing initiative, writing content based on what you think is true about your audience is the equivalent of throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks.
When it comes to your audience, knowledge is everything. Knowing your audience helps you (and your content writer) determine the right topics for your content, use the right language to connect with the reader, structure the content so it’s most easy for the reader to engage with, and get it into the hands of the audience in the most efficient way.
You wouldn’t design a sales strategy without market research. Don’t design a marketing strategy without it, either.
Now, most of my clients have a pretty good idea of the industry or vertical they’re selling to. Where things often go awry is in figuring out the people element. Who are you trying to reach with your marketing content?