Content marketing is all the rage for building relationships and converting people into paying clients. But not all content works so how do you guarantee a return on that investment?
Whether it’s video, blogging, podcasting or publishing books, for the last few years content marketing has been all the rage. Make a one-time investment of your time (developing a piece of content) that can build a relationship with your audience and convert them into paying clients for years to come? What’s not to love?
Well, the problem is, not all content will effectively build your business. And I’ve seen many entrepreneurs spend hour upon hour, month after month, developing and marketing content that delivers very little return on their investment.
So how do you know whether your content will give you return you want?
After helping over 100 entrepreneurs create content (in the form of books) to grow their businesses, I’ve found it all comes down to one question:
Does this give my audience what they want?
Your audience is everything
Yes, sponsors can bring in extra cash and partners can help with distribution, but the ultimate goal of most marketing is to bring in more paying clients, and those paying clients will typically come from your audience.
So regardless of whether you’re writing a blog post, recording a podcast, filming a video or publishing a book, your content will only be effective if people want to read it, listen to it, watch it and share it.
As I noted above, making people want to engage with your content comes down to one thing – giving them what they want.
What does your audience want?
In most cases, they will either want to solve a thorny problem or meet a burning desire.
To address this, you need to know two things:
1. Who is your audience?
In other words: who do you want to talk to? Stay-at-home mums looking to give their kids the best start to life? Start-ups looking for their big break? Millenials looking to break out of casual work into a real career?
Knowing who you are writing for allows you to make your content relevant to them. (The way you write to a grandmother would be different to the way you write to a university student for example, both when it comes to the language you choose and the topics you write about.) This will also inform the products and services you sell to them down the track.
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So, if you haven’t already, take a moment to get clear on your audience:
- What is their age and gender?
- What is their marital status and do they have children?
- Where do they live?
- What is their occupation/business and their income?
- What do they do in their free time?
- What do they value/believe?
- What do they read, watch and listen to (books, magazines, online, TV, radio)?
2. What are their problems?
As an entrepreneur, you know the purpose of your business is to solve people’s problems. The content you create for those people has the same purpose.
Once you know your target audience, the next step is to figure out their thorniest problems and most burning desires. These problems and desires should be the foundation of your content. If you get it right, you’ll be creating content they’ll be dying to engage with and share with others.
So what are your audience’s biggest problems? What would they pay anything to solve?
- What do they fear?
- What frustrates them?
- What causes them the most stress?
Then, think about their greatest desires:
- What do they want?
- What are they really trying to get done?
These problems and desires will become the lens through which you judge all of your content. If your content doesn’t directly address (and help them solve) a problem, or help them achieve a desire, it’s time to ask whether you should really be creating and publishing that content.
Have you tried content marketing for your business? Has it worked well for you, or has it fallen short of the mark?