Content marketing for ‘for purpose’ organisations is all about offering value via your marketing content – exchanging something people value for the right to start a relationship.
Rather than thinking channel first – “what should I put on Facebook”? – great content marketing starts with thinking people first – “what helps my audience at this stage of their relationship with us”?.
That’s why our “4As” approach to planning content marketing starts with people – your audience.
Audience – find out what they care about, what is helpful to them.
Asset – what do you already have that consumers value?
Amplification – what are the most cost effective and helpful ways to deliver content to them?
Action – how will you link the content to a next step so that the people you can help find it easy to take action?
Who is your audience? What’s going on for them?
Structural changes in the non-profit sector mean that your audience may be changing, even if the end user of your service remains the same. With the introduction of My Aged Care and the NDIS, the purchasing decision has shifted from public bodies to the end users of services, or their carers. The information they need, what they care about and what’s helpful to them in making decisions about their care is very different from how you might have communicated to a funding body in the past. To keep putting people first, start by understanding who your new audience is, what’s going on for them at every stage in their buying decision, what they care about and what’s helpful to them.
First, identify who your customer is, and your audience – they are not always the same!
If you are trying to attract new clients, employees, volunteers or donors, is your audience the person who makes the ‘buying decision’, or is it more effective to talk to their key influencers – for example, this may be the person’s main carer, family member or others.
Once you’ve identified your target audience, you need to understand what’s going on for them at each stage of their buying decision, what they really care about, and what’s helpful to them. It’s important not to rely on assumptions here, or your organisational group think, but to turn the tables and really listen to your audience, so you can provide the content they really need and want, not just the information you want to tell them.
So how can you find out what your customers really want? There is no doubt that the best way to find valid and substantial customer and market insights is to invest in professional market research. Before you invest, it’s wise to first tap into some of the many resources available to better understand your audiences, to find insights that can be directly applied to your marketing or questions that can be addressed through more formal research.
Here are our top five sources of informal audience insight:
1 Ask them: organisations taking part in the recent South Australia Impact Accelerator program run by Business Models Inc gained hugely valuable insights by talking directly with customers to discover their pain points and why they engaged with the service. These insights inform not only marketing, but service design.
For organisations moving from publicly funded to individually funded business models, this stage is critical. Whilst your public sector funder would have wanted to complete due diligence checks against your board, your quality and safeguarding compliance etc. (and your website probably reflects this), your individual purchaser may be more interested in who your frontline support workers are and in stories of client experiences.
2 Hang out where your customers hang out: are there social media groups, online forums or real world physical spaces where your audience congregates and exchanges views and experiences? Listening to the discussion can give you valuable insights into their interests.
- Set up Google alerts for your brand and your competitors to know who’s in the news and what’s being said by and about your market https://www.google.com.au/alerts
- Search for your brand on Facebook and Twitter – have you been mentioned in any posts?
- Google yourself, and then your service type in your location. What is shown in reviews on Google or other review sites?
3 Use the data you already have: what can Google Analytics and social media monitoring tell you about what your customers are looking for and how they find you. What can you learn from your call centre queries, complaints and other feedback mechanisms?
4 Look to industry organisations and government bodies in your sector for market research: there may be studies available that address the generic needs of clients in your sector.
5 Look at similar organisations in your sector or related sectors. How are they using content marketing to communicate with similar audiences?
What will your audience value?
Use the information you’ve gathered to answer these four key questions about your audience:
- Who are they, what’s going on for them?
- What problem do you solve for them?
- At what stage is your relationship with them?
- What will they value at this stage?
Understanding what your customers care about, what is helpful to them and what problem you solve for them gives you the foundation to develop your content.
Developing new content can be an expensive exercise, so before you start creating something new, check out your existing assets – what do you already have that your audience will value?
Next month we’ll be looking more closely at our second “A” – Assets – and how to find assets that will inspire, inform, educate or offer a valued experience to your audiences – as well as some top tips for developing and testing your content on a budget.
If you have any questions about audiences, assets, or experiences in content marketing or you’d like to share please add your comment below.
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