It's Not About You: Focus on Your Audience
If you’ve spent a considerable amount of time working on your business plan, developing a marketing strategy, and creating a website, it can be easy to get stuck in the rut of thinking in terms of your company, your products and services, and your needs. It can be tempting to write blog posts that talk about the great things your company is doing, how practical your offers are, and what your plans are for the future.
The problem? Nobody cares.
Stop Selling. Right Now.
Do you really need cartoon bears to tell you that you need toilet paper?
People who are coming to your website or turning to Google to solve problems already know they are on the market for a solution. The entire concept of inbound marketing and content marketing revolves around the fact that people are sick and tired of being sold to. We tolerate commercials, ignore billboards, evade salespeople in the store, close pop-up ads, and install sketchy software to block any attempts to barrage our screens with ads.
Advertising in this regard is more focused on brand recognition. It is generally more useful for big, competitive businesses that need to capture huge corners of a market to remain successful. Small and medium-sized businesses will benefit from some branding, but the most success will be found when you focus on building relationships with your customers and community.
Who are the People You Can Help?
Focusing on your audience means that it’s time to stop thinking in terms of bringing as many people as possible into the fold in hopes that a handful will be interested, and a few people from that handful will become buyers. Instead, think in terms of directing your messaging only toward those people who will become buyers--that is your core market.
When considering who makes up your core market, resist the temptation to fold all the possibilities you can think of. There may be many use cases for your products and services, but many of them will be outliers. Instead, think of who your best prospects are; who is considered a slam dunk?
In my case, my slam dunks tend to be small operations that have either been around for ages and things seem to be slowing down because they cannot keep up with the changing way people interact with businesses, or new local businesses that don’t have the budget and resources to launch a full-scale marketing effort but still need to get the ball rolling.
My other slam-dunk is marketing and advertising agencies that have fluctuating content needs for their clients and I step in to fill some gaps in their roster of writers. Is there a use case for my services in terms of big businesses with a giant marketing staff? I suppose. And if they sent work my way, I’d surely not turn it down! But I don’t focus my marketing on their needs because they just don’t need me like the other two groups.
Personalize Your Content to Your Audience
When you focus your content around the needs of your core audience, you’ll start laying the foundation for building long-term relationships that are sustainable for both you and your customers. By thinking in terms of what they need, you’ll also be setting yourself up to better serve them in every way, so it’s beneficial for every aspect of your business.
Once you know who you can help the most, then you can start thinking about what kind of questions they might ask or what topics they want to learn more about. This will lead to a more successful keyword strategy and better SEO results--especially in competitive markets.
It’s also important to focus the tone of your content on your audience. What kind of language do they use? What industry jargon are they familiar with? Using too much jargon can be alienating; over-explaining things that a general audience wouldn’t understand, but your core market would know immediately will have the same effect. What level of professionalism should you use? How formal do you need to be? Are you talking to CEOs? Bankers? Auto mechanics? Chefs? Will they find you too stuffy or will being too informal make you appear flippant?
I Repeat: Stop Selling. Right Now.
One last thing: nobody wants the hard sell. Save that for your products and services pages as that’s where your visitors will go once they’re ready to buy and want all the details to reach a decision. When it comes to your blog, you want to be informational, educating, exciting, engaging, and entertaining. Remember, your customers already know they need a solution to their problem. Your job is to make sure they find you, and when they do, that they’re convinced you’re the one to choose.