Start by diagnosing the problem
First ask: What’s the root cause? Why? Is it that:
- Your brand offers no content on the topics the audience cares about most? If so, discover which topics resonate with your audience by gathering and analyzing their Top 100 Questions. Here’s how to reach an audience with relevant answers to their questions.
- Your competitors offer all the content audiences need? To find the niche or “white space” where you can establish new content, perform a competitive content audit. Here’s how to reach an audience with content they need.
- All your web pages set out to sell rather than to inform? Some price-centric brands emphasize selling so much, there’s little room for useful information on their websites. Here’s how to reach an audience you want to make into smarter buyers: teach before you sell.
- You don’t know where buyers go to find information during the buying journey? Buyer persona research answers the question: where does your audience usually go for information? When your content appears where buyers habitually go, that’s where you’ll reach your audience.
Once you know the root cause, address the problem
Think about how to reach an audience like this:
Thirsty animals go to their watering holes. Buyers who search for useful information go to their usual haunts.
If you wonder how to reach your audience with content, don’t try to build a new watering hole! That approach is expensive, uncertain and fraught with risks.
Instead, to help buyers find your content marketing, go to where they already hang out. Don’t even try to force them to come to you.
Buyer persona research shows where and how to reach an audience
The kind of research enables marketers to place content where it’s most likely to be found by its audience. Two examples show how each audience goes to its own places to find valuable content:
Audience #1: Chemical engineers
Buyer persona research found the information preferences of engineers who specify chemical-resistant hoses, namely:
- Seminars that provide continuing education unit (CEU) credits, which are required in many states to renew a professional engineering license.
- Trusted brands’ chemical resistance guides.
- For new chemicals, information from chemical manufacturers.
- Updated versions of the textbooks they used in college.
Using these insights, marketers learned they could:
- Sponsor brown-bag seminars to help engineers earn CEU credits
- Improve on existing chemical-resistance guides with more frequent updates
- Offer new editions of textbooks.
Audience #2: Small business borrowers
Buyer persona research found which sources of information small businesses prefer when it’s time to get a loan.
Small business borrowers:
- Use Google to search for lenders.
- Read direct mail offers from lenders.
- Consult friends and family.
- Look at lenders’ websites.
- Seek Better Business Bureau confirmation about lenders.
- Do not like going to banks for small business loans.
- Do not speak to peers (since it’s embarrassing to admit they need a loan).
Using these insights, lenders can best reach small business borrowers with a media mix of:
- Direct mail
- Search-engine optimized website content
- Better Business Bureau endorsements.
There’s zero overlap between the information habits of the engineer and the small business buyer. You have to get into their heads and hearts to know how to reach your buyers.
Once you identify your audiences’ favorite places to get content, create content they find compelling.
Make sure it’s not only relevant, but resonant, so buyers will binge on your content. Here’s advice from Ardath Albee on how to create binge-worthy content.
“How do you reach an audience that isn’t looking at your source as content?” is one of marketers’ Top 100 Questions about content marketing. Here are the answers to the Top 100 Questions.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.