Knowing who your audience is, and how to talk to them, is vitally important for any business that wants to flourish. Marketing, perhaps more than most industries, requires a well-developed voice and a keen attention to detail.
That said, you don’t have to create your own audience. Knowing how to entice certain types of individuals will go a long way toward helping your content speak to the right types of people at the right time.
While you might hesitate to classify your potential audience into different subsets, it can’t hurt to make some generalizations. It’s a good way to test whether your content is well-rounded and can communicate its message effectively to people who are looking to do different things.
Content Marketing that Meets a Need
If you were to pick a name for the largest subset of Internet users, an appropriate choice would be “Seekers.” Quite simply, Seekers have a need and they do their online searching to meet that need. These can be readers, shoppers, listeners, or just general browsers.
Typically, they’ll be looking for something that’s relevant to their interests on a personal level. They are arguably in control of their media consumption; you can get their attention, but it will likely involve the use of owned media and well-placed paid content.
Search engines, given the nature of the Seeker, are a great tool for getting their attention. Google, for example, has quite a few tools available – many of them for free – for helping small and mid-sized businesses get the attention of Seekers. Content placement, such as guest posting, can also help you make great gains in your website ranking, making your brand more visible for Seekers everywhere.
Speak to the Speakers
Another group you’d do well to make note of is the Amplifiers. These are mini-media companies that, like you, have a built-in audience already. If they can be leveraged to help you spread your content across the Web, they can prove to be a powerful asset.
Amplifiers will share content that is relevant to them, either in a personal or a professional capacity. Their ultimate goal is to broaden their audience, and if sharing your content will help them do that, they’ll jump at a chance to build a working relationship that’s mutually exclusive.
Catering to this type of audience is important because they can provide essentially free marketing opportunities for your brand. They’re also vitally important in driving that first group – the Seekers – to your blog or site. With Google placing more and more importance on sharing from professional sources, Amplifiers will only be more important as time goes on.
A Captive Audience
This is what it’s all for. The final group – the one that you court Amplifiers and Seekers to get in touch with – is called Joiners. They’re the ones who give you and your brand their permission to market to them; in other words, they take an active role in the process.
This is also known as permission-based marketing, and can take several forms. One of the most common is e-mail newsletters. Giving out a personal e-mail address is an act of trust; once you’ve got it, you know that you’ve made it. As a result of these interactions, you’re given personal information about them, which allows you to tailor your content to them based on their likes and dislikes.
Even better, create an opportunity where the Joiner tells you exactly what type of information they would like to receive from you. Some Joiners feel newsletters share too much content they aren’t interested in. Combat this roadblock by adding a section on your contact page that allows the Joiner to let you know the type of information they want to know. 12 Keys has implemented a “What Information May We Provide You?” box on their contact page. This tactic provides insight to the specific needs of each Joiner.
Unlike the other groups we’ve discussed, Joiners allow for at least a slight shifting of power. That is, they’ve given you a degree of control over the delivery of your message. It is important not to blow this opportunity. Joiners have given you permission to reach out to them. Make the best of this opportunity by catering content to their specific needs.
The Bottom Line
It might seem a strange thing to divide your entire prospective customer base into three broad groups, but these classifications hold up pretty well. At the end of the day, though, your job is deceptively simple: you need to send the right message to the right people at the right time. If that sounds like a great deal of uncertainty, serendipity or luck, know this: more than perhaps any other industry, online marketing is one place where what looks like luck is actually cleverly disguised skill.