Figuring out your target audience is so crucial to making any content marketing strategy - especially blogging - successful. If your messaging is ambiguous, misdirected, or just completely wrong for your audience, all of your hard work will be wasted.
Most small business owners, when starting out, have a general idea of who is/who will be buying their products or services. Similarly, bloggers have a general idea of who is reading their blogs. The issue is getting to the bottom of it, though. We tend to think of our readers in a group, and refer to readers as "they," "them," or "you" (plural). That's fine, especially for getting personal in writing, but it's not enough to come up with a clear picture.
The Reason This Matters
Figuring out your target audience matters because you cannot hit a target that doesn't exist.
If you haven't yet defined a readership for your blog, it is only a matter of time before your readers define your blog for you, and you will find that to be incredibly frustrating as you try to generate leads or build relationships with the right people through your blog.
The Goal: Define the Who in the Statement "Who Cares?"
The question of the day is "Who cares about the information on your blog?" Someone probably cares. Obviously you care, or else you wouldn't be (or shouldn't be) developing that content to begin with. So who is it?
Here's a helping hint: What matters to them?
Let's use an example. If your blog is about women's fashion, there are a number of ways you could go with it. Assuming you have a general idea that your target reader is a stylist or has a penchant for high-fashion, you should make a list of what matters to her/him, such as:
- Big, detailed images
- Patterns, fabric, and hemlines
However, you get to blogging and stumble on an interesting fashion-related post about saving money. It's got lots of social proof, and the blog seems to be thriving. So, you run back to your blog and plan a whole bunch of posts around:
- Dressing for less
- Local sales
- Thrift store finds
Before long, your high-fashion stylist reader is going to move on. You're not talking about what matters to your reader. You're still talking about fashion in general, but the issues that matter to your target reader are not being addressed. He or she no longer cares about your blog.
You can apply that same example to just about any industry and any set of target readers.
There's certainly more to defining your target audience, but that is a start and it's one that gets skipped a lot, replaced by generalities and vague ideas. Don't be vague. Be very clear. Create a bullet list - just like the one above - of what really matters to your target reader and go from there. Create a content strategy that discusses those issues and doesn't try to cast the net too wide. The brilliance of a blog is in the ability to get very detailed, spark a conversation, and develop a connection all at the same time.
What matters to your readers? Do you know? Does this knowledge help you plan for better, more relevant content?