It doesn’t matter how good your content is. If you don’t know who it serves, and how it serves them…then quit! Right now!
Or keep reading so that you don’t have to quit. 🙂
Without a clear idea of who your target audience is, there’s almost no way you can really succeed. They are the ones who read your blogs, listen to your podcasts, and buy your products. Without them you have a nice idea, that’s only nice to you and nobody else…except your mother…maybe.
So let’s talk about finding out who we are doing this for, and how to make sure they are getting the most out of our content. Overall, I’d say the big word to use here is “research”, but there’s many ways to do it, and most of it means listening to your target audience instead of guessing.
Whether it’s through your mailing list (best), or social media (not-so-best), you can use a survey to find out what your target audience wants. This works very well if you’re strategic about the questions you ask, and have a good way of compiling the answers.
You can use the answers to guide your direction, and also as a way of creating more helpful content. Common responses tell you something that about what you target audience is looking for.
Here are a few services you can use to create surveys.
SurveyMonkey is an easy-to-use service for creating surveys. The free plan gives you up to 10 questions and 100 responses per survey. If you’re just starting out, this is a great way to go!
Google Docs can also be used to create surveys, and it’s completely free. It requires a bit more technical know-how though, but is worth it if you’re trying to keep costs down with an large sample of questions and responses.
TypeForm is another service that’s free to use (with paid upgrades starting from $30) and allows you to create different kinds of forms, surveys included. The thing I like about this is that it has templates it allows you to edit and make your own, so you don’t have to start from scratch. I’m going to be trying this one out soon to see how it works.
This one was new to me when I came across it, but it’s a great exercise if you want to get serious about defining your target audience.
With an avatar, you basically create an entire profile of your ideal target audience (assuming you know what makes them ‘ideal’), from gender, age, and industry, to desires, dreams, and goals. You detail the problems they have, the issues they face, and go as far as describing the impact those problems have on their lives.
There’s an example of this on the podcast.
Here, you go and find out what your target audience is saying about other products/services in your niche. You do this by going to sites where they can leave reviews, and do your research from there.
Amazon (and similar sites) is perfect for this kind of research, because of the reviews and comments you can find there. People will let you know what they like about something, how it helped them, what they struggled with while using the product, and sometimes even give alternatives.
This kind of information is gold when it comes to learning about your target audience because they are basically giving you the vocabulary you need to reach them! Doing your homework well here will give you a greater sense of who you’re helping, not just what you’re creating. And when your content touches a person where they are, it has a greater impact.
This isn’t a one-time exercise. You will periodically be looking into this as time goes and as the world changes. You have to be on top of what’s happening with your target audience if you want to stay relevant and influential.
And please, do’t think you know it all just by thinking on your own and writing a business plan. Research is vital to validating your direction in terms of topic.
Ed Dale quoted his copywriting mentor Gary Halbert saying, “If you can’t write for two minutes on people’s pains and two minutes on people’s gains…what the hell are you doing selling to that market??”
Do you know your target audience enough to talk about them for two minutes?
Does your content directly solve their pains and answer their doubts?
Does your product add true value, or is it just another expense?
If all this wasn’t the first thing you did when you started, it’s ok, I had no clue! Just don’t stay there, and learn what you can as you go along.
Don’t just think about it!