Something that all content marketers struggle with is tapping into their audience's desires. Even the most skillful, advertising-oriented minds can run into creative blocks. It's a challenging reality that many marketers have to deal with—it's impossible to know everything about customers or prospects. No matter how many surveys or interviews you set up, there will be moments when you won't capture how your audience feels. Still, marketers must do everything they can to ensure that the audience will find their content relevant. Here are some tips that could help.
Explore Alternate Viewpoints in Your Content
When creating a marketing plan, it's handy to use tropes, but if you want your content to stand out, you have to examine what you know about your customers. The only way to keep evolving your message is to change as your audience does—challenge long-held assumptions about your target market. When you do, you will uncover new perspectives and make inroads. For instance, consider the long-held assumption that millennials crave premium experiences despite being "broke."
You know the stereotype—avocado toast, daily coffee runs—and many marketers use it in their messaging. They highlight exclusivity and prestige when talking about their brand. After all, don't millennials love luxury? However, if you [challenge] this assumption about millennials, you'd quickly realize that it's not as simple as it seems.
For example, suppose you're conducting a focus group discussion. Instead of asking what "luxury" is for them, you could ask your target market for their definition of luxury. Starting from here is a more honest standpoint because you can relate your product more closely to how they see the world. For example, "luxury" for a millennial might be "having a customized or tailored experience." So, you learn that it's not necessarily about the product—instead, it's how you present it to them that matters.
Or they could even challenge the notion of "luxury." Since millennials and Gen Z are coming into adulthood with levels of debt their parents never had, their opinions of luxuries are probably different from that of older generations.
Check Your Corporate Values
Are your marketing methods aligned with what you claim to be about? Consumers are savvier today, and they know when people are selling to them. It does not mean you cannot convince them to buy from you, though. You only have to ensure that you "walk the talk." If your company claims to be customer-centric, you cannot just put that on your website. Back up your claims; you have to create products and services that customers will keep re-purchases or re-subscribing to, ones that they will enjoy.
You could also gain customers from people who share your company's advocacies. For example, some people only purchase makeup from cruelty-free and eco-friendly brands. Leaning into your company values will also give you ideas for content plans and campaigns.
Use Data as a Guide, Not a Blueprint
You can use data to help you decide what to do, but you shouldn't make it your first reference point. Looking at isolated segments without seeing the big picture could lead you to create a campaign that responds to your audience as they are at a single point in time. For example, suppose you sell backpacks and want to market to 20-somethings.
If you rely on search volume for "backpack sellers near me," especially in 2020 to 2021, you'll conclude that young people are no longer interested in buying bags. However, it could be that people aren't searching as much for them because many employees are working from home. Instead of turning to promotions or clearance sales, you can figure out a different approach or message. Perhaps you can highlight the functionality of your bags and that they make the perfect companion for people running errands. You could also frame the purchase in terms of the future—get your bags now, so you're ready when the world reopens.
If you blindly rely on data, you will create a marketing plan that does not speak to your audience. Make your relationship with your customers more effectively by using data to support—not create—your marketing plans.
Use Different Types of Data to Get a Clear Picture
It's helpful to have multiple sources of information when thinking about your target audiences. Generally speaking, data comes in three forms—linguistic, numeric, and visual. The most frequently used are linguistic and numeric data. Marketers are well-versed in drawing insights from search traffic, conversions, reviews, and sentiments from customers. Visual data is something they don't often use, but it can be just as illuminating.
For example, user-generated photos of products, events, and others can help you understand how your customers are experiencing your brand. Images tend to be more descriptive than words, and you can get many insights from a single picture. Heat maps of your website can also help you determine which parts of your web copy are most compelling to your audience.
Besides what your customers say about your brand, consider as well what they don't say. For example, suppose one of your goals is to evoke reliability. If your audience does not talk about how much they can count on you or how reliable your services are, you might want to analyze where the disconnect is coming from. Do your services need improvement? Do your web copy, ads, and other marketing materials talk about your reliability? Examining the messages you publish will help you identify whether or not you're fulfilling your promises to your audience.
When communicating your brand to your audience, keep in mind that it's not about you; it's about them. Although you want to sell your services or products to your target market, your messaging should not emphasize how great your offerings are. If anything, put it at the very end after you've shown them that you understand their concerns and want to help.
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