5 Techniques To Get Closer To Your Audience

November 1, 2013 Mark Sherbin

audience

Nothing is more important to the success of your content marketing than getting to know your audience.

We could always have a better understanding of our audiences. It takes more than just knowing who your audience is to create gripping content. You must get to the root of what motivates them.As marketers, it’s our responsibility to stop making assumptions about the people that buy our products and start getting to the core of their true motivations. To get there, you might need to change your perspective.

Understanding motivation goes beyond the buyer persona. What’s your typical buyer’s thought process? What do they want to achieve in their careers? What obstacles stand in the way of achieving those goals?

As marketers, it’s our responsibility to stop making assumptions about the people that buy our products and start getting to the core of their true motivations. To get there, you might need to change your perspective.

Feel like you have a shaky relationship with your audience? Here are 5 techniques you can use to get closer to them.

1. Interview your customers directly

There’s nothing more powerful for getting to know your audience than a one-on-one chat. How you approach that conversation dictates the success of a customer interview.

Working with a long-time customer can get tricky, for example. They may be far enough from the decision-making process to have only hazy recollections of it. They also may be more inclined to speak fondly of your brand, which doesn’t do much to help you get the raw details.

Help your interviewee understand the reasons behind the interview. Put them at ease. You want honest answers that can help you understand information gaps and pain points. That way you can create content that your audience finds incredibly valuable.

2. Participate in online communities and social websites your audience frequents

Online communities have tons of great audience data that you can dig up. Watch your audience interact in real time and participate in those interactions to get up close and personal.

Your audience probably organizes in a few different places online. LinkedIn Groups are a popular spot for B2B marketers to get information. Popular communities with niche subgroups like Reddit offer a great opportunity for B2C marketers.

There are entire forums and social websites dedicated to your audience. American Express’ OPEN Forum is a great example of a community that targets small business owners. You can get even more granular. LitReactor focus entirely on writers. Communities like it serve a niche audience. Find and mine them to help form a more accurate picture of audience motivations.

3. Shadow a member of your audience for a day

Ready to get your hands dirty? Shadow a customer or some other member of your target audience. Spend some time in their shoes to get a strong understanding of the obstacles they face on a daily basis.

Shadowing is a huge opportunity for marketers. It’s also a really effective way to get information for product development. This is sometimes an easier process to undertake in B2B, where your customers usually have rigidly defined roles at their organizations. It works for B2C too, as long as you have a strong profile of your target audience member.

4. Read your industry’s most successful books and magazines

It’s likely you already read books that target your role as a marketer and the industry in which you specialize. Those books, however, aren’t the same ones your audience reads.

The same goes for magazines and online publications. Sure, your RSS feed has tons of great marketing advice. But are you reading the same stuff your audience is?

Books that successfully target your audience are doing something right. They speak the language and offer compelling content. By reading that content, you can get deeper into your audience member’s thought process, giving you more of the perspective you need to successfully market.

5. Meet everyone you can at conferences

Imagine you had every member of your audience together in one room. You just imagined a conference. You’ve probably been to one of these fancy shindigs before.

How are you spending your time at conferences? Here’s a prime opportunity to get lots of different perspectives on how your audience sees their unique challenges. Chat people up. Go to after parties. Jot notes about popular sentiments.

Learning firsthand what problems your content should address is the most vital part of building an engaging content marketing program. Take advantage of every opportunity you get to build a more accurate profile of who needs your content.

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