Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love


Published on

How getting to know your clients and prospects on an intimate level takes your content to the next level.

  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love

  1. 1. Defining Your Audience:Make Your ClientsFall in Love DUO C O N S U L T I N GHow getting to know your clients and prospectiveclients on an intimate level takes your contentstrategy to the next level Duo Consulting 20 W Kinzie, Suite 1510 Chicago, IL 60654 312.529.3000
  2. 2. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love Remember how marketing used to Is audience knowledge a major problem among marketers? work? You delivered one succinct According to Joseph Carrabis, a neuromarketer at Critical Mass, it’s the message to your audience. Based on number one problem. that message, your audience decided Carrabis says the biggest issue his clients experience (and the biggest problem he whether they wanted your product identifies on the web) is that marketers “don’t know their audience.” If you plan to or service — assuming that message launch your own content marketing campaign, you won’t meet success unless you clearly understand whom you’re producing content for. reached them. So how do you get to be best friends with your target audience? We’ve leveraged Not anymore. Now more than some of the experts and our experience here at Duo Consulting to put together ever, marketing revolves around a your guide to understanding your audience. conversation. You’re either taking You’ll learn: part or you’re left out. Staying in • Why understanding your audience is important touch with your audience is easier • What a user persona is and how to create one than ever — you just have to keep • How to define your message your ear to the receiver. • How to develop content topics based on your audience • What tone you should use • How to find your audience • How feedback sharpens your knowledge • What the stages of content marketing are • How to re purpose your content internally312.529.3000 | | 2
  3. 3. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love Let’s figure Why Understanding Your Audience is Crucial out why this is important. Research firm Focus B2B recently published a study that puts some key differences between business-to- business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers in perspective. When asked what their highest strategic priority was, the need to “better understand customers/audience” brought a much higher return in the B2C crowd (49 percent) versus B2B marketing professionals (39 percent). Why the difference? Steve Olenski, creative director of digital services for The Star Group, postulates that B2B professionals tend to think in more formal terms. When you market from one business to another, there’s a tendency to forget you’re speaking to a live person on the other end of the conversation. His story of how a floundering B2B client amended his copy of a sales letter, calling it “too personal,” is a prime example of just how out of touch some businesses really are with their audience. Olenski partially blames the client’s inability to recognize the human aspect of the conversation for the failure of the letter and, eventually, the failure of the company. The proof is in the pudding. (I’ve always wanted to say that.) So what do we learn from this? If you’re out of touch with your audience, you can’t create compelling campaigns, write compelling copy or develop compelling offers. If you don’t know who your audience is or what they want, then how do you expect to get their attention? What does understanding your audience do for your content marketing? Imagine you’ve just moved to a new city and you don’t know anyone. It’s intimidating. As you move your things into your apartment, a male neighbor about your age passes by. Whether consciously or subconsciously, your neighbor notes the large framed picture of the Tuscan countryside you’re carrying proudly. You want to make a new friend, but you know nothing about this person. What are his interests? What motivates him? What does he do for a living? What kind of music does he listen to? How long has he lived in the city? You might find answers to these questions on the other side of his wall. But you haven’t been invited in.312.529.3000 | | 3
  4. 4. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love How do you start a conversation with someone you don’t know anything about? That picture of the Tuscan countryside represents your ability to offer valuable conversation on a subject that may or may not be of interest to your neighbor — the same strategy used by businesses focused on what they do rather than what they do for people. You’ve laid your cards on the table in the hopes that the other party will take an interest and strike up a conversation. But the other party has plenty of friends; why should he be yours? Had you focused on your neighbor, you would have noticed he was carrying a battered copy of Moby Dick, a novel you’ve read eight times. That novel represents your opportunity to engage your friend (the prospect) in absolute confidence that you’ll keep his interest — but you missed it because you made an uninformed judgment that your picture of Tuscany was enough to spark your prospect’s interest. How do you effectively appeal to your audience with content marketing? In terms of content marketing, we see understanding your audience as having four main purposes. • tart a conversation S As noted above, the more you know about the party you’re appealing to, the better the chance of starting a conversation that could eventually lead to a relationship. • itch the pitch P Throw it away. Seriously. Your pitch will come naturally over the course of the conversation. Would you approach your neighbor prior to any form of conversation and ask, “Will you be my friend?” • nspire loyalty I Once you’ve built a relationship, you continue to share great conversations and great content with your new friend. You build a stronger relationship as a result. • uild credibility B When you have something insightful to say about something that interests your friends (and, as a result, friends of friends), you gain steam as an authority and a credible resource on the topic.312.529.3000 | | 4
  5. 5. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love Now let’s give you something Defining Your Market: Strategies you can work with. The web is a treasure trove of information, isn’t it? Because of social networking, your audience now willingly publishes personal information. More companies are sharing insights based on their own research — for free. And information exchange between companies and competitors has become more open — so fire the Tips for a successful interview espionage squad, hoss. • onduct interviews face-to-face, rather than C According to statistics collected by Facebook in 2010, the average user clicks over the phone. Face-to-face interviews offer a more personal experience and facilitate a more the “Like” button 9 times each month. So, every month, more than half a billion direct conversation. Facebook users are telling their social circle about 9 more interests of theirs. • ecure current clients for your interviews. S That’s a lot of interest sharing! You’ll need someone who has experience working with your brand to conduct an effective interview. But free information isn’t the only tactic you should rely on to figure out what That doesn’t imply you should go with clients that peaks your audience’s interest. Three traditional marketing tactics will help you have had only positive or only negative experiences; an even split (or close) will help you gather the shape your audience. information you’re looking for. • sk insightful questions about your content A Interviewing is an art marketing and retention strategies. To hit a little closer to the mark, it’s important to narrow your Focus groups have been a favorite pastime for marketers — but when it comes to questions in a way that will provoke a thoughtful B2B audience research, no method is quite as effective as the one-on-one interview. response. The more specific the question, the easier it is to answer. Recognize the difference between If you want an insider’s point of view, there’s no better place to go than right to the questions that can lead the client to a specific horse’s mouth. answer and questions that will bring something more insightful to the table — for instance, questions that If you can put together around 10 interviews to get started, you’ll be able to define make assumptions about the previous behavior of the natural audience segments, putting you well on your way to constructing a better interviewee. overall vision of your audience. Take a look at four tips to the left for a successful • isten, don’t talk. The important part of the L interview isn’t what you have to say, so let the client interview (based in part on business coach Kristin Zhivago’s suggestions). do the talking — even when they’re off topic. They may lead you to insights that you hadn’t considered when you developed questions for the interview.312.529.3000 | | 5
  6. 6. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love Once you’ve collected your interview Personas and empathy maps are your friends data, how do you apply it? Buyer personas aren’t real people—but they can be a marketer’s best (imaginary) friend. In fact, the creation of a buyer persona builds off of the data you collect from real people, so they’re about as close to the real thing as you get. What you’re trying to create in a buyer persona is the perfect client—their background, interests, challenges, habits, goals and responsibilities. Putting a name and a face on your buyer persona helps bring that perfect client to life. (We know, we know—there’s really no such thing as a “perfect” client. For the purposes of the Create Your Buyer Persona buyer persona, let’s assume there is.) • hat’s this person’s role in the buying process? W We’ve put together a few more tips for building your buyer personas and keeping Decision maker, champion, or influencer? them fresh. • What work issues keep this person up at night? • What motivates this person to take action? 1. ut a Face on Your New Friend P • How familiar is s/he with the solution you offer? You’ve already got a name—now how about a face? Find a stock photo that • hat sources does this person turn to for W accurately represents your buyer persona to make the client more realistic. information and daily news? • ow does the prospect go about making H 2. eep It Brief K business decisions? Make sure to include all of the relevant information in your buyer persona — • hat types of organizations does this person belong W but that doesn’t mean you have to write an autobiography. to and what events does he or she attend? • oes this person seek advice from colleagues, industry D 3. Revise Often peers, and/or unbiased third parties? If so, where? As you gain new insights on your target audience and its segments, • How is he or she dealing with the problem today? keep your buyer persona fresh. • hat phrases does the prospect use to describe the W issues he or she is facing? Empathy maps offer another quick strategy to get to the bottom of what drives your potential clients. An empathy map describes influencers and relationships for your • oes this person prefer high-level details or a deep D dive into a topic? clients in a visual way. For more on empathy maps, visit this post in Glenn’s Blog. • What prevents this type of buyer from choosing us? From Fearless Competitor and Ten Ton Marketing Bonus Resource: Marketing guru David Meerman Scott offers a case study on user personas.312.529.3000 | | 6
  7. 7. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love Want a more advanced and longer-term way to define your customers? Let’s take a look at the Mental Model strategy. Mental Models stay relevant for years What is a Mental Model, you ask? Let’s check with Wikipedia. “A mental model is an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world. It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person’s intuitive perception about their own acts and their consequences. Our mental models help shape our behavior and define our approach to solving problems (akin to a personal algorithm) and carrying out tasks.” The truth of the matter is, in business, we sometimes lose perspective on how we bring value to the client, who exactly the client is and how the client sees his or her world. In essence, mental models are meant to show you your business from the perspectives of everyone involved. If you’re only seeing things from your point of view, you may be ignoring the needs of your clients. If you’re only looking through the eyes of the client, you may be setting unrealistic expectations for your team. In practice, mental models for marketers are meant to identify gaps in your offerings and potential new revenue opportunities, provide long-term clarity of direction and give you confidence and continuity in your vision. Mental Models give you the richest level of understanding on how your target audience processes content. In simple terms, forming a mental model requires the consultant or project manager to interview a set of clients, group the data from those interviews, clearly segment the data, identify hypothetical classifications for each segment and define the steps audience members in each segment would take as your client. The data stays relevant for 5-10 years and will help you clearly map what kind of content is most engaging for your audience. Because the process is extremely involved, we won’t go through all of the steps right now. However, we will suggest further reading, including a shameless plug for Duo’s very own Chelsea Winkel who is nearly finished completing our mental model and chronicles the journey through a series of blog posts. Suggested Reading: Young, Indi. Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media, 2008. Print.312.529.3000 | | 7
  8. 8. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love Finding Your Voice and Appealing to Your Audience Aligning your brand message with your overall content Now that you have a better idea of who your audience is, how do they communicate? marketing message makes sense. If you’re starting While content is a crucial focus of how you appeal to your audience, the smallest from scratch, ask yourself these questions: inconsistencies in voice will have your readers/viewers tuning out before they even get to the meat of the piece. • hat’s important to our audience? W This one’s pretty clear: you want your content How many times have you read something online that is riddled with jargon and marketing message to revolve around topics in which your audience has a vested interest. lost interest? What about content that is too dry? Yes — fact-based content works • ased on our experience, in what area B in general marketing efforts. But for content you’re pushing into the vast depths can we become credible thought leaders? of the web, you’re going to need to add a little spice that appeals to your audience. Your clients help shape your company’s identity. In After all, if it isn’t engaging, who’s going to read it? content marketing, it’s important to produce content that falls back on your company’s experience. The first step is identifying the unified messages you want to be the focuses • here do our industry contacts lie? W of your content marketing. Do you know people that can contribute to your content marketing? Cross-channeling content relies on taking advantage of blogs and other content feeds What are you trying to say? from industry partners. Trading content for content requires message consistency. When I was a child, a piece of advice my father offered me on a regular basis stuck • hat do we value as a company? W with me through the years: “Think before you speak, son.” In fact, as marketers are Company values are an important part of your well aware, effective communication is built entirely on this concept. brand that should be reflected in your message. For example, if you value sustainable business, You’ve probably heard the old cliché “Creativity thrives on disorganization.” don’t be afraid to make the “green” side of your industry a part of your content marketing message. Throw that concept out the window. The creativity you bring to your content • ho represents our company? W marketing should stem from a well-developed, coherent and unified brand Who are the thought leaders in your business? message — one that may already be defined as part of your overall marketing plan. A lot of times they’re busy execs — but if you have a dedicated copywriter, you can still gather content from them and slap their names on blog posts, Remember: The most important thing after you’ve found whitepapers and more. your brand’s content marketing voice is to STAY CONSISTENT.312.529.3000 | | 8
  9. 9. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love You’ve got the What’s the best way to say what you want to say? package you Business isn’t about stale traditions. It is, has been and always will be about real living people. What’s important to want to deliver — your content strategy (and your bottom line) has everything to do with initiating a real conversation that addresses but how do you real problems and offers real solutions. wrap it up? Are you sick of corporate jargon, dry anecdotes, poorly hidden sales pitches, excruciatingly formal addresses, passionless dictations and broad, vague topics of conversation? So are we. Throw all of your old ideas about business communications out the window and start engaging people on a personal level. But first, you’ll want to examine and define your tone. Here are four tips to get started. • efine your tone in five words. Over at Copyblogger, a really useful blog on copywriting, Carol Tice offers D her advice on best practices for figuring out the tone that works best for your company and sticking with it. “If you can boil your essence down to five words, you can use them as a quick guideline when you’re writing blog posts. It has an added bonus too: if you have a team blogging at your company or organization, it can help the blog maintain a consistent tone among multiple authors.” • emember that your goal is to start a conversation. So, consider speaking conversationally. This isn’t R a form of condescension or informality, as some stodgy businessmen might consider it, but a strategy for connecting with your readers that engages them on a human level. Content marketing professional Katie McCaskey explains it perfectly in her personal blog: “ ‘Corporate-ese’ sucks. Your voice should sound like a real person.” • ake a stand… Has your love affair with your business lost its spark? Do you lie awake at night thinking, T “How do I reignite the romance?” If you answered yes to any of these questions, your content strategy is screwed. Passion-infused writing is much more compelling than dry, emotionless content. Without the passion, all you’re left with is words on a page. Consider picking sides on a hot-button issue in your industry and take a stand. • But don’t offend your readers. If “angry” isn’t a word you picked for your business’ tone, don’t let … it seep into your content. Taking a stand is a great way to start a dialogue, but present the issue clearly, examine both sides, form a conclusion and ask your readers what they think. Avoid controversial content that provokes an emotional response (like religious or political commentaries).312.529.3000 | | 9
  10. 10. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love Okay. What topics How do you develop topics that appeal to your audience? are you going The brands that have accomplished success in the content marketing arena seem to generate endless amounts to discuss with of content — enough that it might seem overwhelming to apply the same strategies to your content strategy. your clients? How do you generate so many ideas? You don’t have a content mill at your disposal. Mint, a personal finance company, launched an aggressive content strategy right out of the gate in 2006. In 2009, Intel purchased Mint for $170 million. The key to success? The company invested in a full-time and freelance editorial staff that adhered to strict editorial standards. You may not have the budget to employ a full-time editorial staff, but you have the resources to generate new content at your fingertips. Keep your eyes peeled and we have no doubt you’ll find more inspiration out there. Places to find content topic ideas • Twitter: Target your followers by building a list of credible industry • nfographics: These often contain information worth talking I contacts and they’ll put new content ideas on your map daily. about. The visual nature usually makes them more compelling. • ooks: Note passages, chapters and sections B • TV/Movies: Yes, there’s even something to be said about that grab your interest or inspire you. television and movies. Pay close attention so you process what • News Outlets: Every morning, check national, international and you’re watching/listening to more clearly. industry-focused news sources • ompany Execs: Sit down with an exec at your company and C for ideas. pick his or her brain on industry trends. • Networking Events/Conventions: You’re bound to • Research Reports: Research reports become hot blog topics have conversations at in-person events; note them after they’re when they offer solid info. over and address them in a blog post. • Your Clients: If you’re looking for unique business problems • Blogs: Other blogs (especially ones that offer an opinion) to write about, look no further than your clients. may inspire rebuttal posts or further commentary from your perspective. • omments Feedback: Your own followers may ask questions C you hadn’t considered, so do a follow-up post for the ones that catch your interest.312.529.3000 | | 10
  11. 11. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love Next, we’ll look at some of the best places The Right Venue: Visit Your to flex your new content muscles and engage your audience where they live. Audience at Home Facebook just announced that its member base has grown to 750 million users. Twitter claims some 175 million registered users, a more than 133% increase over last year, while LinkedIn weighs in at more than 50 million members worldwide. And those are only social media statistics. It’s clear that your audience lives somewhere out in the social ethos. But how do you choose the right channels to promote your content and reach your audience directly? That depends on who your audience is. Here are a few places where they live. • Social Networks. Facebook isn’t just for the kids anymore. New research suggests that the average age of members on social networking sites has shifted from 33 in 2008 to 38 in 2010, and more than half of adult users are older than 35. What that ultimately means for you is that regardless of age, your audience lives in the social sphere; you’ll just have to find out where they hang out. • Online Publications. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection consumes information in online publications on a daily basis. Influential blogs, news sites, RSS feeds, podcasts, publishers, trade publications and other aggregators are usually narrow enough to appeal directly to your target audience — the trick is building a list of the ones that matter to your potential clients, building relationships with the publications and trading content and links. Advertising Age ©2011 Crain Communications Inc.312.529.3000 | | 11
  12. 12. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love • Forums. Forums represent an early iteration of social networking — but are still a popular form of communicating directly with people who have similar interests. If you’re not trolling industry forums, you might be missing out on conversations already in progress about your brand. • Video Channels. Fact: YouTube logs more than 2 BILLION video views per day — and that’s only one of the more impressive statistics the popular video site has shared with the world. In fact, Cisco projects that online video will account for more than 50 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2012. It’s a powerful medium and a place where your audience goes to consume content. Re-purposing Content for the Internal Audience Congratulations: you’ve figured out what content you need to produce to appeal to your target audience. So why does it feel like we’re forgetting something? Oh, that’s right. The sales force. Your staff. The people you’ve been working so hard to train so they’re better equipped to position themselves as experts in your industry. Consider this: salespeople across industry spend an average of 30 hours every month searching for and creating their own collateral. Even more shocking: 90 percent of marketing deliverables aren’t used by your average sales team. You’ve done too much work on your content marketing to hold that information back from internal consumption. Opening a communication channel between your content marketing and sales teams is a must. Share the information with them so they’re equipped to make more sales and your brand message stays consistent. And don’t hesitate to share with the rest of your internal team; it could go a long way in helping unite your company in a common goal.312.529.3000 | | 12
  13. 13. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love Measuring Success by Audience Response And we come to the dirty part: measuring just how successful your campaigns are and tailoring your future content strategy towards the most successful facets. We’ll keep it short and simple for you. Here are the two most important areas to focus on as you figure out what works and what doesn’t. By the Numbers: Time to Get Analytical Math is hard. Don’t kill the messenger, but numbers are absolutely necessary if you want your content marketing strategy to become more and more effective as time goes on. Math can be fun too. It’s best to find an example of how successful content marketers measure their progress. Take a look at this great story about Danny Brown and his business. Qualitative Research: What Does the Community Have to Say? Throw that survey away — your community is offering feedback in return for content. Gone are the days when you had to solicit information from your community with nothing to offer them in return except a free sticker and the joy of knowing they’d done a good deed. You’ve created content, you’ve syndicated it to the public — now give them the mic and let them speak. Below are three ways to measure qualitative feedback. • hich pieces of content drive more responses. Take a look at some of your blog posts and compare W the content pieces that get more comments to the ones that get fewer. Can you find any trends in the pieces that sparked more interest? What about the ones that logged less interest? • hether comments are positive or negative. Positive comments are great and usually build brand W loyalty. But negative comments can be good, too, if they’re starting a debate. Still, some negative comments can take the form of an offended or upset client or potential client. Try to avoid those topics, tones and strategies. • ow people outside of your immediate community respond. Your community extends beyond the H walls of your publishing platforms. Are people commenting on Twitter? Have other bloggers published rebuttals? Are people buzzing in the forums? Keep your vision wide to collect good insights on your content.312.529.3000 | | 13
  14. 14. Defining Your Audience: Make Your Clients Fall in Love Conclusion In order to execute an effective content strategy, a deep, comprehensive understanding of your audience is the first step in driving a consistent image that appeals to potential and current clients alike. If you skip out on the preparation and research that goes into defining your audience, you risk confusing, boring, even alienating potential clients. When you become best friends with your audience, your content becomes easier to create, flowing naturally, sparking more interest in your brand and driving sales higher as a result. Duo utilizes Drupal open-source technologies to create content-rich websites accessible through traditional and mobile platforms. Contact Michael Silverman, CEO for more information 312.529.3000 | msilverman@duoconsulting.com312.529.3000 | | 14