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Which Comes First, The Audience Or The Product?

Joe Pulizzi has a lot to say about content marketing. His recent post on Copyblogger is what he calls a “how-to-think” post, and he proposes a different approach to the subject. 5 Steps to Revising Your Content Marketing Strategy to Attract and Retain Future Customers reverses the traditional timeline for most businesses.

Most businesses will start with the product. A great invention is produced and the marketing department is given the task of getting that product known to the world. A lot of time, effort, and a huge budget goes into blogs, ads, infographics, commercials, and the rest of it, with the hope that an audience for that content will develop as people learn about the product and decide they want to buy it.

A Different Strategy

Mr. Pulizzi suggests that instead of this model, it would be better to develop the audience. Then, as you get to know the people who are invested in listening to you, the products are developed to meet their needs. His suggested steps are:

  1. Choose the right content niche. Work on being the trusted expert in your industry.
  2. Focus all your efforts on building an opt-in email list. One call to action = sign up for the email list. One.
  3. Produce content consistently. Regularly scheduled email delivery without fail.
  4. Add “outcomes” to your editorial calendar. Solve problems for your readers, making their lives better.
  5. Prepare the “three-legged stool” model. Digital content doesn’t stand alone; have multiple channels like print & events.

Then, as the man says,

Your business goal that drives your particular content creation strategy should be to build an audience.

With a loyal audience you can sell, well, practically anything you want.

What do you think of this idea? I have to say that it seems a bit chicken-&-eggy to me because most products are the result of a perceived need in some type of audience. I do think that building your email marketing carefully is important because an opt-in email list is composed of people who already want to know what you have to say.

Photo Credit: Product or Audience/shutterstock

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