What’s Your Customer Thinking? Go to the Source

Focal Point Content BlogAs a kid, I had a friend who was fearless when it came to riding his bike. He’d jump curbs, let go of the handlebars, and speed through the neighborhood. Unfortunately, he didn’t master braking until later. He’d hop on with no plan for stopping or avoiding obstacles—other than crashing or trying to jump off the bike and hope only the bike crashed.

Business owners and marketers sometimes have the same strategy with content. We’re getting great results as long as nothing gets in our way. Then we either crash or try to correct course on the fly and hope for the best.

When your market changes unexpectedly—like we’ve seen in 2020—it’s tempting to leap into decision-making mode without consulting your customers. You’re eager to act, but it’s important not to simply react. You need to get as much information as possible to pivot or reinvent your content strategy in the direction of your customers.

When re-examining your marketing strategy, start by asking your buyers their thoughts and plans. Ask them directly and listen indirectly through social media. Keep listening. Updating customer profiles or personas help you create more useful content for your target audience and helps you keep your head in a crisis.

Get to Know Your Customers

In my first business, knowing my audience was easy because I was my target audience. I fit the demographic.

I was the editor of a parenting magazine, and I was also a young mom with young kids. I was interested in our advertisers’ birthday party places, toddler gyms, music classes, teeny clothes, and fun books. I was interested in the topics we were providing to our readers. The research wasn’t hard. I could look at my own opinions and could also ask friends, neighbors, and school moms.

Later, as my career evolved into content marketing, I wrote for a variety of organizations and had to learn how to connect with more varied customer personas. As in most relationships, it’s useful to ask prospects about their thoughts and preferences. That may be easier said than done when you don’t “belong” to your target audience, but in my experience, people are often willing to share their experiences and insights.

Keep Learning for More Focused Content

Recent events in the world illustrate the power of listening. We all think our ideas make sense and that our ideas are good, but others have different experiences and we can’t assume to know what they are or what that’s like.

So here are some ways to listen, whether virtually or in person:

  • Network
  • Survey groups
  • Read industry news
  • Have one-on-one conversations
  • Join organizations
  • Create partnerships
  • Attend conferences
  • Join online groups
  • Follow industry leaders on social media

These are not only great ways to listen, but you can make connections and improve your industry expertise. Understanding your ideal customer is more than just conducting a survey or writing up a profile and forgetting about it. There’s always more to learn.

Markets and customers evolve, just like your company will. So when you encounter obstacles, it’s ok to press on the brakes and re-evaluate because it can take longer to clean up a crash.

Comment with your questions about customer personas or send them to me here and I’ll get back to you with answers.

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