No, it’s not a misspelling or a typo – I did say audiences, plural!
Why am I putting such an emphasis on that plural? Because most people fail too! People tell you to write for your audience; locate your audience; conduct keyword research for your target audience; create quality content to please your audience.
They don’t tell you that you have more than one audience!
And it’s true – almost every single one of you has more than one audience. I’m not talking about sub-groups or divisions of audience – but multiple audiences. These different audiences have completely different behaviours, intentions and reactions to your content.
Notice all those lovely informative posts that talk about your sales or conversion funnel? You realise that they are completely wrong – well, some of the time they are. That’s because of different audiences.
So what are the different audiences?
Well, that’s a secret. Oh, okay, I’ll tell you :D
That’s it – that’s your secret?
Well, yes. But there’s far more to it than that (else I wouldn’t be banging on about it). These two groups have completely different sets of wants and needs. They have different expectations of you, your company and your content. They should influence your decisions, your targeting and your content creation in different ways.
This is the main audience people refer to. Typically, we define consumer audiences by several methods:
- Specific – an actual item/service, such as they read The Times, or use a Dyson vacuum.
- General – a class/type of product or service, such as they read broadsheets or use upright vacuums.
- Classes – earnings, gender, ages, location etc., such as >30K, white collar, B1, 25-30, males in Las Vegas.
But there are other methods, or more accurately, other labels and classes that may be more useful;
- Repeat consumer
- Previous consumer
- Current consumer
- Potential consumer
Now, if you’ve been paying any attention to those funnel pieces, those should look vaguely familiar. You should have also noted that many of the funnel pieces fail to cover repeat consumers, despite them being highly important to your business.
Each of those groups has different needs, and would require different content. Just as important, they will react differently to your content and your company.
In most industries, it’s easier to sell to previous and current consumers. It’s also easier to get recommendations (reviews, ratings, testimonials) from repeat, current and previous consumers (generally in that order). It’s also easier to engage with those groups.
The content needs of each group are different. Those funnel pieces you’ve been reading generally cover this – each stage of the funnel covers different types of content, such as:
- Raising/increasing awareness (branded marketing/advertising)
- General information (types of products/services, benefits/features, USP/VP)
- Specific/comparative information (individual products, services, guides etc.)
- After-sales/user information (guides, complementary material etc.)
Consider offers. You can have introductory offers – those target potential consumers and help raise awareness and interest. Or you can run with rewards – those target current, previous, repeat consumers.
Yes, yes, most of this is common sense and well known, but how often are you actually using this information when looking at your objectives and content?
Think about it – one of the main reasons you produce content is to improve your SEO – to get links.
Which of those groups are going to give you links? How many links are you likely to get from them? What sort of value are those links going to be? Right – and that’s where understanding that you have the other audience comes in!
I use the term ‘peers’ instead of ‘industry’ as it’s broader, and gives us a little more wiggle room and flexibility. Peers include not only those in your industry, but in sibling and related industries. It also covers enthusiasts and hobbyists (I would have defined that as a separate group, but that would have made it much messier :D). Depending on your goals, you could also include groups like investors, shareholders or the media.
Categorising peers is every bit as important as defining consumers. Each group and type of peer has different goals and different reactions. That means you need different content and can use them for your own objectives.
One way to break peers down is by level:
Now, it’s important to note that this type of grouping generates a pyramid. That pyramid not only shows the general difference in quantity of each group, but the flow of influence and the increase in difficulty to obtain a desired reaction.
Another way of looking at peers is by role. Far too often people focus on their niche, their industry, or what they provide. They often forget that they do different things, such as using software, run accounts or are themselves consumers (as people and as businesses). This opens up more content topics and more marketing potential. Look at some examples:
- Executive – those that in positions to make decisions and hold a large amount of influence.
- Technician – those that utilise hardware/software to perform tasks that require knowledge and/or skill.
- Sales – those that have direct contact with consumers, either inbound or outbound.
- Services – those that perform company functions, such as accounts.
- Care – those that run the contact points, after sales and complaints.
- Labour – those that perform manual labour or use tools and equipment that requires only moderate knowledge or skill
There are many other way labels or tiers you could use, but that should give you the gist of things.
Looking at the peer audience this way shows you that you could generate content of a completely different nature, such as cheat-sheets for software, macros for spreadsheets, templates for word processors, sources of alternative software, operating tips, safety advice etc.
What’s important here is to understand the differences between consumers and peers. The chances of ‘converting’ a peer in the traditional sense are slim. Very few decorators are going to hire the decorator whose article they are reading. Few Advertisers will contract with another advertiser. Instead, peers serve an entirely different set of goals.
It’s peers that will give you the greatest chance of links. Peers will provide authority. Depending on your industry, content and marketing, it’s peers that will give you the most social shares.
Now, jumping back to the peer pyramid, let’s look at the difficulty of obtaining a desired reaction. This is an important bit, and one that many never mention!
Getting links from thought leaders, influencers and experts is damned hard. But getting links from amateurs is easier. Getting links from laypeople is even easier. Chances are you won’t get high value links, but you will get more links. These people are easier to please, easier to impress and are far more willing to promote your content and further your marketing efforts.
For some of you, this group might not even exist. These are the people that are in your industry, or a related one – and may buy your products or pay for your services. That means this small and rare group may well serve most, if not all, of your objectives.
How nice would it be to not only make money off them, but also get them giving your reviews and sharing your content?
So, who has peer consumers? Well, those that sell products to do with their services (such as artists selling materials and mediums), and those with tools that pertain to the audiences services (such as templates for web designers or plugins for content management platforms).
As you can see, it’s kind of a sweet spot, and I’m sure, without too much effort, you can think of several well-known examples in our own fields :D
How audience types can influence things
The above is a little general. The reason is that there is so much variance, based on your industry and objectives, or those of your clients. The idea of the piece is to help you realise the amount of influence that knowing your audiences should have on your content and marketing plans.
Remember, you should be defining goals and objectives, then creating content to achieve those goals and objectives.
The key part is what happens in-between those two things, your research, which should include researching and defining your audience and target terms. That would include understanding the types of queries they will make, and what the intention of those queries are.