Content strategy and planning is a two-part process. Knowing how to market a small business means having a clear understanding of that business’ brand and message. Secondly, successfully marketing a small business means knowing who the business’ audience is. If your company’s content isn’t speaking to your target audience, they aren’t going to think of you as a thought leader or turn to you as a solution to their problems.
Getting to know your audience is itself a two-step process. You want to reach out to them and find out what makes them tick. Then, you want to use that information to create a persona that reflects each type of audience member.
Who is your business reaching and who does it want to reach? The best way to find out the answers to those questions is to get in touch with your current customers and with people you hope become customers. According to Moz.com, you can reach out to your current or potential audience in two ways, using either quantitative methods or qualitative methods.
A quantitative way to reach out is through a survey. When people visit your site, a pop-up can ask them if they would like to complete a survey. Alternatively, you can email the survey to people who already subscribe to your site or who have purchased from your company in the past. Survey questions can focus on the logistics of your site, your product or service, and when a customer might be most likely to visit your site or use your services.
A qualitative method of out-reach could involve a focus group, which lets you see the emotions behind your audience’s decision making. Combined, both methods give you the information you need to move on to the next step in content planning: creating a persona for your readers or customers.
Putting Together a Persona
Armed with concrete data about your audience, you can put together a persona, so that you have an idea of who you are speaking to with each blog post or piece of content you create. Depending on what service or product your business offers, you might have several different personas. For example, you might have the expert persona, for those customers or audience members who have been around for years and are familiar with what you are offering or who are looking for new ways to use it in their lives. You might also have the beginner persona, for the audience member who is visiting your site for the first time or who might have just heard about your company.
Along with familiarity with your company, other things to think about when putting together personas and planning your content to target them is the person’s age, gender identity, and whether he or she has children, or is married.
Once you know who you are talking to, it’s time to start planning posts and content. Lay out your editorial calendar, with some posts targeting Persona A, some aimed at Persona B, and so on. Knowing who you’re addressing will help you figure out just what to say.
Amy F specializes in personal finance, gardening and writing for the web. Based in Philly, she also blogs about fashion and sewing projects in her spare time.