Do you understand your customers? What drives them to become an owner of your product or a user of your service? I attended a digital marketing conference this week and was struck by something fairly alarming – many businesses are engaging in  content marketing without moulding their approach around the needs and wants of their customer/prospect base.

Take the content creation point of view

I’m a big advocate for the power of fantastic content and its ability to engage with and activate people. However, I see many businesses taking a ‘finger in the air’ approach to content and the use of it. Why spend time and money creating something that doesn’t resonate with the people that are most likely to take an action (and by an action, I mean spend money) that benefits your business? Trying things out and seeing if they fly is all fair and well (and I would encourage it to a certain extent), but it’s unrealistic to view that as a long-term strategy.

Back to basics

There is a simple exercise I like to carry-out that allows you to strip things back to basics and re-assess your customer/audience. Let’s take the example of an outdoor/adventure clothing company. Three basic points:

As a customer of – The Really Great Outdoor Clothing Company…

I want to – use your product while climbing

So that – I can push myself to be better and go further

Now, as an outdoor/adventure clothing company, you would hope that this type of customer makes up a large chunk of your audience. Naturally, their marketing and content approach will take that into account, and rightly so. It shouldn’t stop there though, further analysis of different user groups is required:

As a customer of – The Really Great Outdoor Clothing Company…

I want to – wear your jackets while commuting

So that – I arrive at work dry

This identifies another key user group of the product and a distinctly different customer to those that buy the product for full-on adventure. Those people will want and benefit from a very different content approach to the first group I looked at.

One more profile:

As a customer of – The Really Great Outdoor Clothing Company…

I want to – dress my children in your clothing

So that – I know they are protected from the elements

Another distinct audience that may well be heavily skewed towards females. Another content approach required.

Use this as a basis for your content planning

This easy technique will help you to identify the key content areas you need to cover. Take the output of the exercise and start to think about content that will appeal and resonate to those separate profiles. This is of course not the only customer profiling/categorising you should do (age group, socia-economic profiling etc are key), however it is an effective way of taking a step back and assessing the direction your content strategy needs to go in. Once you have these key profiles set-out, you can start to further define what is important to each customer type. Mindmaps can be a simple way of doing this:

Click to expand!

This will then help you to define how you can bring that content to life via blogs, videos, imagery etc.

Be dynamic

Planning is good and without it you can find momentum and effectiveness quickly dropping off. However, always ensure you have time/space to be responsive and can react to what is resonating the most with your audiences. It sounds obvious, but focus on the content that is gaining the most attention and causing the most actions. It is good practice to regularly revisit your customer profiles, you may well have a new audience/customer group that emerges and requires action.

I hope that helps you with your customer content planning. Use it as a starting point and you’ll find your content journey much easier to map out.

Is your business strong when it comes to profiling customers? Got a any tips to share? An opinion on this post? Please do leave comment below…

Of course, if you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to email me.

Mike McGrail

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Image credit – used via creative commons and courtesy of bcanepa_photos on Flickr

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