If you're going to spend the time producing content for your desired clients, then you have to know who you're producing it for. Otherwise, you know who's going to read it? Nobody. Because that's who you decided to target.
Previously I've tried to convince you that any content marketing strategy needs to start with a real business case, lest you fall into the trap of random acts of content.
The next stage in developing your content marketing strategy which is to clearly define your audience.
Why Define your Audience?
As we've seen in our definitions, any good content marketing strategy involves targeting a well understood and clearly defined audience.
If you don't, then inevitably you will end up writing bland and uninteresting articles.
In a world where every minute there are something like 1,388 blog posts, dozens and dozens of hours of video, and tens of thousands of images – you need to be producing content that really resonates with someone that you can identify.
It has to be very clearly written for THAT person. Otherwise, they're just not going to engage with it.
They're not going to find it interesting enough in the sea of other options that they have available to them.
After All… What would YOU Do?
Think about your own consumption habits when it comes to articles or videos.
My guess is that if you're reading or consuming content for business that you look at it from this point of view:
is this worth my time to read?
When you come across generic things there's a good chance that you're actually not going to engage or even pause. You're just going to keep scrolling.
How Well Do you understand Your Audience?
So we need to define our audience – and I could just leave it there, but that's not very helpful.
The inevitable question that comes up when we're doing this kind of thing is: how narrow or broad should I go when it comes to defining my target audience?
And that's a fair question. As a rule of thumb, I suggest that people define their audience in a more narrow way then they are inclined to.
Take a stab at it once (I'll show you some ways in a minute). Then take a breath and narrow it down a bit more than what you're otherwise inclined to.
Of course, if we're going narrow, then you can have more than one clearly defined and well understood audience.
What are you Trying to Do?
What kind of people are your golden clients?. These are the people you're defining right at the moment. It will save you time and money at the end of the day because you won't need to engage with people who just aren't ever going to ultimately use your services.
In short – you're trying to:
- be as attractive as possible to an audience;
- pre-quality those who you are engaging with to try and filter out calls from people who would never be suitable for your practice (for whatever reason).
When people start to really engage with your content you're going to get a lot of calls that you need to deal with. If you're not targeting your content right, then a lot of those calls from people who clearly are not suitable for the service that you provide.
SO Let's Begin
I'm going to run through five different ways that you can define your clients. You might want to do a combination of these when you're coming up with who you are actually targeting.
#1 – Starting Obvious… Your Practice Area
The first and most obvious is your legal area that you practice in.
Now, this really is just a starting point because it helps you narrow the scope a little. Generally, it doesn't take you narrow enough.
If you are a family law practitioner then sure – your audience is people who are embarking upon a family law situation of some kind or who are in the middle of it.
But within that it's very useful to be able to niche it down more, because your engagement levels will be different depending on who you are engaging with.
So let's narrow it down a bit more.
#2 – Your Industry Area
Legal area is a place to start but it's not the place to finish. It generally leaves you too broad. Now one way you can narrow that down is by looking at industry. What industry do you specialise in?
And this is where industries like building and construction come into play.
Building and construction of course has very various different aspects. It has work place health and safety, contract, particular statutes that apply to it – it's an industry specialisation.
Sports law is an industry specialisation.
Perhaps you are a specialist in acting for wood working companies.
Perhaps you are embroiled in the cycling industry.
Perhaps you know everything there is to know about produce.
Perhaps you know everything there is to know about agriculture.
So if you're a transactional lawyer that's probably too broad for a content strategy – but, you might choose to focus your content marketing on the agricultural industry.
You could choose to niche it down further. Within agriculture you could choose to go into different subsets of agriculture – being an expert in fisheries is different to an expert in grain is different to an expert in cattle or stock.
You could go two ways at this point. You might choose to:
- have a content marketing strategy for each; or
- go so narrow so that really you can saturate a particular industry with your expertise.
If you become the ultimate expert in a much narrower field you might have less exposure in terms of numbers, but if you can capture a massive percentage of the work coming out of that industry then it's worth it. After all, the narrower the niche, the less competitors there are.
Industry is a good way to start to refine yourself beyond just practice area.
#3 – Demographics
What age group are the people you're targeting? How much money do they earn? What is their level of education? Where do they live? This sort of basic demographic information can be really helpful for you. Why is that?
- Headlines that are attractive to women are probably not as attractive to men and vice versa.
- You will use different writing styles, headlines and topics for younger women or men than you would for older women or men.
- You will write differently and engage with people differently depending on whether they are at a higher socioeconomic level or a lower socioeconomic level.
You are going to use different language.
You're going to use different mediums.
And this is also going to come up later when you start deciding where you're going to put your content. That exercise will be partly informed by how well you have defined your audience.
People in different places in life use different language, they have different styles. They prefer different things. They ask different questions.
If you were in a client conference you would engage with those people very differently. But when you produce content you need to think about it the same way. How are you going to define the demographic of your audience?
#4 – Interest
Interests can be a powerful way of building trust quickly with a group of like minded people.
One way you may not have considered in splitting up your audience is by faith. What is their faith? Are they Christian? Are they Muslim? Are they Buddhist? Are they agnostic? If you share an interest with this group this might be a good way of positioning yourself. People within those groups who share that common value with you will naturally be more trusting of you.
Importantly, you can't “fake it 'till you make it” in this kind of stuff.
You need to be genuinely engaged.
There are a lot of events (business and otherwise) and opportunities to build trust with people within particular faith groups. I know you don't necessarily want to get all salesy within that kind of setting. But if you are genuinely engaged with the group then people will naturally place a higher degree of trust in you more automatically than they would with someone with whom they share no values.
But we can go beyond that too.
What about experience or hobbies? If you cycle, is that a way you could position yourself?
What about triathlon, or marathons. What if you are musical? What if you play the piano? What if you sing? What if you have some other hobby that you are genuinely interested in that you can use to position yourself?
All of these are opportunities.
#5 – Feelings ‘n' Stuff
We touched on demographics but what about psychographics?
Demographics answers the “what”. Age, education, location, that sort of stuff.
Psychographics looks at the “why”.
How are they feeling about their situation at the moment so far as it relates to your practice area? What are they going through? What emotions do they have?
These are the things that will allow you to touch on those issues that feel like they are more personal for people that just by reference to their gender, age or income.
You can use those trigger points to show that you empathise with their situation via your content. They know “this is what I'm going through at the moment but I don't know how to get to the other end”.
You can start to build that trust with them by the way in which you articulate their issues better than they could.
So What do you do with all this Information?
Some people like to come up with an “avatar” or a “persona” for their particular customer in a particular situation.
Let's take an example from family law.
So we'll call our audience “Suzy”. Suzy is 49 years old. Her husband has been a professional. She has been a home-maker through her entire life.
She has looked after their house she has raised their children. The children have just left their home. Suzy has just realised that her husband has lost interest in her and she has lost interest in him. She has decided to commence a separation.
At the moment, she's feeling confused about what's going on. She's not sure what to do with the rest of her life. She may still be in love with her husband. And she might want to get back together with him but she's not sure.
This might be who you are writing for.
Maybe it's not, maybe you changed some of those details. Maybe in your practice Suzy is a 22 year old. Maybe Suzy is a man called Jack. Maybe he is the professional on the other side of Suzy's story.
Let's take a business example.
Joe is starting an online business. Joe is a young entrepreneurial man. He has completed tertiary education. He has a debt associated with that tertiary education and he wants to boot-strap himself. He does not want to get external funding. He wants to build an online business selling information products (a matter close to my heart).
Jack has the technical expertise but he has no legal expertise. He doesn't want to get bogged down in legal things right at the moment but he wants to make sure he's adequately protected going forward so he doesn't do anything stupid. Jack needs your help to put together his business package for him in a cost effective way. That might be your ideal client in your transactional business.
For the moment, I encourage you to go through this exercise. Who are your golden clients? What are they going through? What have their experiences been? What are their questions and concerns?
So – Who is Your Audience? How do you Define Them?
Define your audience.
If you can't do this exercise because you don't know enough about your audience? Then get out there and start listening more. Ask questions. Engage with people.
Let me know, what is your clearly defined audience? Have a go at defining your client persona in the comments.