Stranger danger! Why you need to know your audience
A few weeks ago, I spoke to a small group of entrepreneurs.
The night before, I was nervous.
Which I thought was a little odd. I’ve done large corporate presentations for most of my grown up life. I’ve even been thrown off the deep end on more than one occasion, having to present to larger groups than I’d imagined, or to take over a section of a presentation that wasn’t my area of expertise because someone else wasn’t around.
So WTF was this about??
Do I need to be figuring out new ways to stress myself out FFS?!
So I tried to break things down. After some poking around in my head, I realized what was bothering me was that I didn’t know the group I was talking to.
For as long as I can remember, here’s how I’ve done things… Nay, I’ll give all my (good) bosses of the past credit here… Here’s how I was taught to do things…
Know as much as you possibly can about the person you’re about to talk to.
Let me paint a picture. This is from the pre-LinkedIn days. When stalking people and learning their habits involved more than setting your status on ‘stealth mode’. Let’s say you had a big pitch. In addition to making sure you osmosed all the research into your fucking bloodstream, read every piece that was even obscurely related to the company, and understood ALL aspects of the brand, you also understood the people you were presenting to.
If you were lucky, you looked for pieces about them in magazines. You tried to analyze their philosophy and writing style from interviews. (Yes, no agency I worked for pitched for small crap!) At the very least, you carefully scanned what they wore, what they drove, what they liked to talk about. You dug around in your network for knowledge of the people in question.
Today, it’s much (MUCH) easier. That’s no excuse to be sloppy, right. So in the digital world, the depth of my knowledge about the people I present to is, typically, (forgive my immodesty) formidable. Either from my personal knowledge of them, or from 10 focussed minutes on the interwebs, I’ll get to know their dreams, their hopes, their fears. (We really don’t make it hard for anyone to get to know us today, do we? Think about it! We’re all guilty of making our lives public to different degrees. It’s not hard to piece together a story even without advanced hacker skills.)
Now, I’ll know that Ms X is having a shit month because her husband just lost his job. Or Mr. Y is extra stressed right now because his family is supporting his dad through an illness.
I’m not saying that to freak you out. Or to advocate actual stalking. My point merely is this:
You need to know your audience. The deeper your knowledge, the better.
It’s what creates empathy. And good content, really any kind of good communication in the world, does not exist without empathy.
So I shook off my fear a little bit. What do I know about these people, I asked myself. (Really, something I should’ve started with, but we all fall down sometimes; more often than we like to admit. Especially if the hurdle before us feels unfamiliar. That’s when your answer usually lies in a refocus on the basics.)
The people I was speaking to were a group of independent business owners who are focussed on running businesses with soul. They were mostly women. They believe being in the right headspace is important for their business, which makes them smart. (The workshop I was speaking at was about mindset for entrepreneurs.) The lady who invited me to speak is insanely awesome, and these are her people – ergo, possibly also insanely awesome. Outside of this specific circle, I knew several other women entrepreneurs well, so I reached into my knowledge of them to flesh out my ‘audience avatar’ even more for the talk.
And before long, I was feeling way, way, better!
(The talk went insanely well. First, I massively enjoyed myself. Second, they massively enjoyed it because it made sense to them. Because I did the work. Here: I’ll share some numbers. They are small, but impressive.
There were 10 attendees at the workshop I spoke to. 2 of them paid up for a course I have coming up that I told them about, and gave them a special add-on of value. I know too many stories of ‘influencers’ with 100K followers who don’t convert 2. The math is real.
We get this kind of results for our clients all the time. Scaled up many, many times. My fave statistic: 40 times the return on investment on a single piece. Side note: that’s the power of analytics. You gotta look at your results.]
It’s what you call ‘content marketing’! 😄 😄 😄 But it takes work. Anyone who tells you roaring success can happen without the work is lying. Run!
Results like this on an ongoing basis – dare I say every day – are entirely possible. And that’s what adds up. It’s called compound interest. And good Karma, baby.
I like to say, content marketing is the last bastion of unselfishness in the world. I truly believe that. If you do something consistently for no other reason than that you enjoy giving people information, and it’s the right thing to do, how can it not work? It might take time, or it might be overnight, but it’ll happen.)
So here I am with a refocus on basics. Your audience.
When we talk content strategy, even if you have absolutely nothing else right now, define a target audience. As I’ve illustrated, it’s not that hard! And once you start looking, the sources (reliable) from which you can get information are endless.
How to define a target audience for your content
You talking to me?
To get started, here are 5 questions to ask yourself to do some quick audience targeting (or retargeting). Whether it’s the people you want reading your blog posts/watching your videos/buying your products/helping you reach your dream of ‘viral content’… you need to know who they are.
1. Who are they?
Demographics are an excellent place to start. While it isn’t a place to hang your hat because it’s pretty generic, it is a good way to get away from saying everyone is in your target audience. (Hint:Everyone is NOT your target audience.) Think about age, gender, stage of life, etc.
Write it down! And keep writing the rest of your answers.
2. What do they do for work?
Again, this is a demographic and it helps you narrow down things even further. Are you looking to talk to students? A stay-at-home mom? A self-employed dad? Corporate grandpa? It helps to be clear about that.
3. What do they do for fun?
And this is where things actually start getting fun because you’re entering behaviour, or psychographic territory. AKA ‘personification’. Go on the interwebs and look up a bunch of articles on how to personify an audience. You’ll find lots of exciting reading. Once you’ve articulated your ‘persona’, put yourself into their shoes and start to think like them. For example, what would I do if I was a 32 year old man? Not ‘what would they do if they were me’, ‘what would I do if I were them’. It’s a seemingly subtle difference, but an important one.
4. Where are they spending time online?
The next important thing to start thinking about is where you’re going to find this target audience. In the case of digital content, it’s a no-brainer. Your audience is online. But which sites? Which publications are they reading? Start looking for demographic data around this, because that’s the easiest way to find the research. Then extrapolate intelligently.
5. Finally, talk to people to validate your assumptions.
The final part of this quick targeting exercise is to get some validation. Start talking to people: people in your intended target audience, people who’ve already used your services in the past, people who might need to know more about the space that you’re thinking of entering; they all count.
Or you could ditch all this and play my quick game👈🏾 that‘s going to help you identify your target audience instantly😂 I’ve done all the work for you. It involves 11 questions to answer (multiple choice, with imagery to make it even simpler) and 3 minutes of your time.
At the end of it, I will send you an e-booklet with a free ‘buyer profile’ based on your answers.
It’s that simple. Get the tool now!
You can use this method, and tool, whether you’re a small business or personal brand, BTW. It rocks.
If you’d like to get a feel for who we are why we love content, join our Facebook group – #ContentHacks – content marketing for small brands. We post tons of cool, new information often and try to have many laughs doing it.