Content marketing is a constant buzzword at the moment, but in order to make it work effectively for your organisation, you need to clarify what type of content will actually resonate with your target audience.
Here are 3 proven ways to really understand what your market finds valuable, so you can get the most from your campaigns.
1. Ask them
Yes, this is probably stating the bleeding obvious, but it never hurts to actually ask your customers and prospects what matters to them. You may be surprised by the results…and how often companies don’t ask.
Don’t just assume you know what your customers care about, as this latent knowledge will be distorted through all manner of internal filters, so make sure there is a specific exercise to find it out fresh before each major content marketing campaign.
The easiest and most direct way to do this is to pick up the phone to 5 of your existing customers and 5 of your prospects and just have a conversation with them. Some good, open-ended questions that should get you to the bottom of what they’re currently most preoccupied with are:
- What keeps you up at night?
- Why? (Always ask that as a follow-up, to ensure you get the right depth of answer)
- If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change about your current role?
- What’s new? Does that scare or excite you?
If you can’t pick up the phone and be so direct, then a fantastic, and oft under-utilised resource, is your front-line sales and customer service staff. It’s their job to be speaking to customers and prospects all day, every day. They should probably be asking similar questions too.
So what are your sales and customer service teams telling you is important? What are the recurring themes, questions, concerns and requests from the customers and prospects they’re talking to?
Two more alternatives would be to opt for a questionnaire, though they are less personal and give you less qualifying details; or if you have (a lot) more budget than time, you can always hire a specialist market research company.
2. Listen to them
To me, the true power of social media is in soaking up what is being said. Make sure you’re following your customers and prospects, watch out for the their updates on LinkedIn, what positions are they trying to fill, what are the common themes of their blog posts, what do their press releases talk about?
These are all valuable insights into the priorities of your customers, and not ‘the market’ in general.
When listening, don’t fall into the trap of taking your cue for what’s important to your customers from business journalists and the media – they’re writing to sell advertising – and therefore almost always have an angle that may not truly reflect the reality for your customers.
Always listen to what your customers are saying directly.
3. Observe them
By ‘observe them’ I don’t mean wait outside their houses or crawl through their trash like a tabloid journalist.
By observe them, I mean watch their behaviour when you’re in their vicinity, for example at conferences and trade shows. See which sessions they’re packing into (and which ones they’re not interested in), what questions are they asking, which booths are they flocking to, what’s getting discussed at lunch?
For an even more accurate and data-driven approach, you should also be mining your customer’s behaviour online too. What white papers have they historically downloaded? Which of your blog posts get the most retweets? Which pages drive the most engagement, and which don’t? These numbers won’t lie, and provide a fantastic gauge for what your customer base finds most interesting.
Simply observing your customers behaviour in this way gives you a powerful indicator of what is genuinely important to them.
Once you know what your prospects and customers really need to know more about, what keeps them up at night, and what interests them, you’re in a far stronger position to provide the right content to them in your campaigns.
They’ll be thankful, and you’ll be more successful in driving a positive response, so everyone’s a winner based on this little extra groundwork.
More Business articles from Business 2 Community: