Know your audience -- content edition

Any good comedian will tell you it’s crucial to know your audience. This concept was painfully demonstrated recently when the defense attorney in a notoriously contentious murder trial told a knock-knock joke as part of his opening statements. As you may have anticipated, it did not go over well. In a text-book demonstration of “know your audience,” I could just have you watch that video, drop the mic and walk away. But what does this have to do with your business, your website and your content? 

Whatever your business, you know it pays to know as much about your customer as possible. There are entire niche industries of research into who your customers are and what their habits are. If you’re even thinking about having a baby, your mailbox will suddenly have diaper coupons inside. How does Target know? Research. Lots of it.

know your audience

Since you’re already doing business, it’s likely you have a target audience in mind. When it comes to who you appeal to, at the very least, you should have a general idea of the following:

* Age range
* Gender
* Income level or business budget
* Education level
* Marital and family status

Ready to go deeper? Find out:

* Values
* How well are they informed? Where does their information come from?
* Are they early adopters or do they wait to jump on board a trend?

Here’s where content starts to fit in — build a profile (or multiple profiles) of your ideal consumers. If you’re selling take-and-bake pizza, for example, your typical consumer might:
* Be a woman in her late 20′s to early 30′s
* Middle income with a part-time job or is a stay-at-home-mom
* Married or divorced with the bulk of the custody of two to three children
* Values family, fun, brand names and good value (clips coupons)
* Gets most of her news from the early morning local newscast and occasionally from a 24-hour news channel, subscribes to the Sunday newspaper. Checks out celebrity gossip websites and mainstream news pages like the local newspaper or Yahoo News
* Most often will wait until several close friends endorse a product before purchasing it herself, will be an early adopter if she’s got a coupon or if the item is on sale

Give your typical consumer a name — Stephanie — and you’ve got a customer profile. This is content for internal use only, you don’t need to disclose this info to competitors.

target audience

Now that you’ve got Stephanie’s profile, you can build your website content (and other collateral copy) to fit her needs. It’s important to let visitors know who you are, but it’s equally important that you address their “pain points” and frustrations and how you can help.

In Stephanie’s case, she’s pressed for time, she loves her kids and wants to serve them a good meal that makes them happy, but she doesn’t have hours to spend in the kitchen. Your content should hit these points! She doesn’t really care much who you are and what you do, she wants to know what’s in it for her. And don’t we all?

“New Take-and-Bake Pizza from Pizza Planet! We make it, you bake it. A fresh, fast family favorite that’s ready in just 20 minutes. “

Now you’ve got Stephanie’s attention. Knowing your audience, and speaking directly to their, “So what? What’s in it for me?” thought process will give you far more effective content that converts visitors into paying customers. Much more effective than a home page that begins, “Since 1992 Pizza Planet has served the area’s favorite pizza…” Buzzer, time’s up … Stephanie is movin’ on. Don’t let that happen to you. Tell your story effectively and thoughtfully and give your audience a way to take immediate action and you’ll have a winner of a website.