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how to: storytelling for business

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Finding your Target Audience by Discovering their Content Needs

In order to put the right type of content together, you need content that will educate your prospects and build their trust. It’s important to establish your target audience and discover their needs before attempting to deliver content that is valuable to them.

Depending on your company, you might have a lot of different audiences – if you are just starting to build on your content portfolio, it can be an overwhelming challenge to speak to everyone at once. That’s why it’s important to keep your content simple at first and start answering the basic questions in your industry.  Get comfortable with the content creation process and begin to expand from there.  This also allows you to keep refining your content and specific audiences as your business grows and as your ideal customer evolves.

The web is full of tools that determine what people are talking about, what they're searching for, what their community does or does not like, and how your brand’s content could fit into the mix. In order to establish your target audience, you must identify their interests, their desires, and especially what they need to fulfill those needs and interests.  

Utilize Answer Sites to Create Desired Content

Before making a purchase or selecting a service, people ask questions and diligently research before making a choice. These questions can reveal some very distinct trends and help you generate a long list of content ideas that the audience is looking for. The first step in creating useful content that will attract visitors is establishing what your target audience is asking.

Answer sites can be a goldmine for discovering what your customers are talking about. By searching for questions that include your keywords at answer sites such as Yahoo! Answers, Quora and Answers.com, you can discover what people are asking about and what common problems you can solve using content.  Answer sites allow you to get real time feedback from consumers about your industry. Try asking a related question about your product to see what kind of response you get from the answering public. The responses can give your company very informative marketing data.

Yahoo! Answers is one of the more popular answer sites, getting massive engagement with millions of users. With Yahoo! Answers, you can browse by category and see what questions are newest, trending, or have received the most answers. Try searching for keyword phrases related to your industry and browse questions that are being asked. For example, when I searched for the keyword “dog toys” some of the top questions were:

1.       “What is the best dog toy?”

2.       “Do all dogs destroy their toys?”

3.       “Does your dog like squeak toys?”

If I sold dog toys, these questions would give me a few ideas about what people are asking about in the market. I could simply use the questions as the title for a blog post and then use the content to answer them these commonly asked questions.  

The idea is to not only help solve the issues of my target audience, but establish myself as a trusted resource by publishing useful content. The next time they come looking for dog related answers or products, my company is the one they will trust and use. If optimized correctly, the content should increase traffic rank well in the search results, if not directly influencing a sale.

A Simple Google Search Can Lead to Important Clues

Take a close look at your current Google Analytic metrics. These patterns should tell you a lot about where your customers are coming from, where they are in their buying process, or what content they search for.

Google has many search options that make it a great tool to discover and brainstorm content ideas. Using my dog toy example, let’s type “dog toys for”. Before I finish typing, Google Suggest will automatically recommend relevant phrases for the search. 

These aren’t just random phrases; Google’s algorithm acknowledges these terms because people are frequently searching for them. Scroll down to the bottom of the results pages and look at the titles under the “related searches” section. Here are more awesome content ideas: 

Once again, this quick and easy search generated many different content topics for your blog or knowledge section.  Do this over and over for your keywords – before you know it, you will have a better understanding of your target audience and what they are searching for. 

Closely Watch Engagement on Social Media

Perhaps the most useful tool for discover a target audience and their needs is social media. Social media channels have the power to reveal in real time your potential customers’ interests and requests. This makes it one of the most valuable marketing tools for your business.

Research through social media is an effective way to better understand how your potential customers think. In addition to understanding what they’re talking about, you’ll also see how they say it, giving you a great sense of the language they use to describe your products and how they perceive your market. By paying attention to the conversations around the topics and concepts relating to your business, you’ll spot trends in what people are saying, what content they respond to, and what generates the most engagement.

Every social media site has its own community culture and etiquette. Each site brings a different kind of demographic data. Even if the same person is active on multiple social media sites, they behave differently on each site. Let’s use the 3 most popular social networks – here’s what to look for:

·         Twitter:  What #hashtags or trending topics are booming in your industry? What are people talking about and asking for?

·         Facebook:  What type of content gets the most Shares and Likes in your industry? Are you posting as much content on Facebook as your competitors?

·         LinkedIn: How is your company viewed compared to your peers? Do you contribute or publish content that establishes your brand as a thought-leader in the industry?

If you do not have much engagement on your social channels, take a close look at how the audience communicates with your competitors' social channels You should be able to get a clearer view on what type of content your audience likes to comment on and share, and this will be valuable information to have when researching or creating new content topics later in the strategy.

To remain competitive you must keep abreast of social trends. This requires that you keep close watch on your competitors' social profiles to see how they engage their users, and you need to check back often. As you create content, continue to engage with social networks to keep current with the changing social trends. That way, you can engage your potential customers’ right where they are, acting as a resource for their needs.


Brad Kuenn is a Content Writer, Editor and Strategist living in Nashville, Tennessee, and he provides research, content topics, writing, editing, and content development expertise to clients. He has a passion for writing as well as art, which shines through in his work. His creativity and attention to detail makes him a valuable asset for a wide range of clients. During his time off he enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and his two dogs Brutus and Kane. 
Connect with Brad:  Twitter   LinkedIn   Google+

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How to Tell the Story of Your Business

In a previous article, 4 Quick Storytelling Tips for More Engaging Content, I discussed the basic fundamentals for great business storytelling.  Now it’s time to put those quick tips in action and begin telling your brand’s story in unique and effective ways.  We know that great storytelling is a powerful way to build relationships with potential clients and draw larger audiences - but how do you begin to tell your tale?

Share your Company’s Story in Unique Ways

For any company to thrive, the brand needs to resonate with the audience. It needs to be projected as relatable and beneficial. This can be accomplished many ways, but a unique and captivating story is a great place to start.  Every business has a different story, each with peaks and valleys; triumphs and failures.  Why did you launch the company? What problem needed to be solved and why have you committed yourself so passionately to this brand? – The answer to these questions is sure to make a great story, and needs to be shared!

Your story needs to demonstrate the uniqueness of your brand and explain what makes you so different from the competitors.  By striving to reach new benchmarks and telling the story of your progress is one of the best ways to keep that story alive and loyal customers engaged with the brand.

 Think Outside-the-Box

It’s crucial that brands find a way to differentiate themselves from other competitors in the industry. But it’s not all about standing out and getting noticed by a large audience. Great storytelling is about getting people to care about your brand and buy into a product or service. Thinking outside-the-box with storytelling means moving away from the tradition mission statements and cliché promises.

Tell stories to create customer-loyalty and meaningful relationships with your customers. What motivates your brand? What goals are you trying to reach? Tell the audience what your brand stands for and a predicted outlook for the future. Your story should be the foundation of your brand and a blueprint for future growth and success. This story can be told through a variety of channels, including:

·         Social Media: Social media has boomed into not only a cultural phenomenon, but an extremely valuable tool that is used by millions of businesses worldwide to tell their story. Regardless of industry, companies can have a lot of fun with social media by using graphics, pictures or quick video to tell their story. According to The Content Marketing Institute, the most successful brands are active on an average of 7 networks. Don’t be afraid to get personal and use social media to directly engage with your audience. Short staff bios posted once a week or photos of the company in action can add a personalized touch to your social media presence.

·         Write Blog Posts: Blog posts create a perfect opportunity to showcase accomplishments, press releases or staff events that help tell the continuing story of your brand. If your company or its employees have won industry awards, or your company was quoted in a prestigious publication – that makes for a great story! Create some content and celebrate that achievement with your audience.

·         Video: YouTube brings in over 1 billion unique monthly visitors – that’s a lot of traffic. Video makes for great storytelling because it creates a strong and vivid connection with the audience. A friendly video with a staff member or leader in the industry can humanize your company. It's a great way to communicate your ongoing story and personalize your brand. And who can resist an episode of Office Dogs… really?

·         Event Timeline: In order to avoid a text-heavy story that covers the long history of your brand, consider creating a timeline to showcase your company’s achievements. By structuring information into easily digestible content, visitors can quickly comprehend the successes and benefits of your company.  A wonderful example of this is the Moz ‘About Us’ page.

 Don’t Neglect the 'About Us' Page

Moz is a great example of a properly optimized About Us page. Not only does it highlight key events in their history, it provides a personalized look into the fun and accomplished company.  Any company can create a personalized and relatable About Us page that works to build a trusting relationship with new visitors or existing customers. 

The ‘About Us’ page is a crucial part of every website or blog. It always shocks me to find brands without an optimized or built page - it’s usually one of the first destinations for visitors when arriving to a site or interested in a brand.

Your business may have started out as a passion or hobby, reaction to a life-changing event, passed-down by a family member for generations. The About Us page is the perfect area to tell your story about the many inspirations and events behind the business.  Tell the story of how the company was founded, along with explanation of its goals and objectives. Be personable and allow visitors to learn more about your business and work to build a trusting relationship.

Continue Telling a Compelling Story with Great Content 

Every company has a story about how, when, where and why they got started – But that story doesn’t end once a customer makes a purchase.  Continue telling your story, share industry events, and focus on providing a valuable experience for the audience through great storytelling.  As The Storyteller Agency says, “if you tell a great story, your audience will follow.”  


Brad Kuenn is a Content Writer, Editor and Strategist living in Nashville, Tennessee, and he provides research, content topics, writing, editing, and content development expertise to clients. He has a passion for writing as well as art, which shines through in his work. His creativity and attention to detail makes him a valuable asset for a wide range of clients. During his time off he enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and his two dogs Brutus and Kane. 
Connect with Brad:  Twitter   LinkedIn   Google+

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