In the world of startups, there is one concept over everything else: That’s mystic Product - Market Fit. Some have found it. Others are still searching for it. And those who run out of money before finding it will die.
The same applies to business blogging and content marketing where the Content - Audience Fit divides those who are still searching for success with those who have already found it and are scaling fast. For all, it’s whether you will find the Content - Audience Fit before you run out of motivation and managerial support. Or money, if you are a startup.
The Product - Market Fit was introduced by Marc Andresseen, the founder of Netscape (Still remember the first web browser before Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer? Well, that was Netscape) and now a famous venture capitalist. Product - Market Fit is achieved when a startup finds large unserved market AND satisfy its need with their product. Until the Fit, everything is just so difficult. Does the market have a need that it is willing to solve? Is the need so well understood that the product is actually solving the need? A startup’s life until the Fit is full of experimentation. The whole business plan may need to be pivoted anytime and many times. But when a Fit is found, magic happens. Things get suddenly easy. The market starts to demand the product in larger and larger quantities.
Audience > Customers
You may be wondering why I am talking about startups, as this should be blogging advice, not startup advice. Well, the truth is your content marketing effort is very much a startup operation. Instead of trying to find Product - Market Fit, you are searching for Content - Audience Fit, a big enough audience with unsatisfied content needs that you can fill. And not just any audience, but an audience where large enough portion can become your customers.
It does not matter if you have passed the Product - Market Fit search a half-century ago, or if you still searching for, not even if you have managed to skip it altogether (by entering to an existing market), you cannot usually escape the search in your content marketing effort. Sorry!
Why is that, you wonder? The main reason is that the competition in content is usually very different from what you familiar with. Content itself is a solution to different need. Content is solution for information need. You are fighting against competition from other countries, cities, industries… And you are fighting against competition that is not even selling anything. There are bloggers, research institutions, universities, magazines, online communities, consultants…
If you are selling let say welding machines, try Google “welding machines”. Then Google “how to weld”. There is no single common site in the results, at least on my results (Google results depends on your search history and a whole lot of other things so yours is likely to be different). So whatever is your product or service, your competition in content is likely to be totally different. And so is the unfulfilled need of the audience.
If competition is different, so is your audience from customers.
Let’s face it, your product or company news are not going to interest new potential customers much. That’s why many have two blogs: One popular “inbound” blog, and one not-so-popular “product” blog for company and product news.
But your audience for inbound blog is not just potential and existing customers. No. You should expand your reach and target the network these people have, as the best way to get to a busy decision maker’s radar is when her (business) friends share and recommend your content. And better yet is to get to the radar of people they consider as influencers. A single tweet by a true influencer may turn your fortunes and start a snowball effect as has happened to many before you.
So who are you writing to? Describing your target market as something derived from strategy does not help much. It’s better to put a bit more effort and create few Audience Personas. Start from your potential customer, and it’s always a person. If you are selling to businesses, there is seldom just one person. CEO is signing the papers, but CFO has to see the figures match, then there is the User(s) who can speed up or slow down a sales significantly. And then there is the customer, the problem owner whoever it is in your case. So you might need to create personas for each.
Think about your existing customers (and cases you have lost). Create fictive personas based on the real persons. Think who influence them. Within their company? From outside? Should you do quick personas for also some prototype influencers inside and outside as well.
Now you are starting to have an idea who your are writing to.
Now what problems does your audience have? Add to the persona papers.
Try to expand from your point of view to their point of view. Maybe the problem you are trying to solve doesn’t get to your audience’s top list of problems. If not, then you might need to change subject.
The more mature your industry the more likely it is that your audience has already some solution to the problem you are solving and are concentrating something more pressing. And for young industries and companies, your customers may not have even recognized they have a problem yet.
With the list of problems you start to see what you should be writing about. Maybe you shouldn’t answer your problems, but their problems. Maybe that is the way to get them to read your other content and recognise they have a problem in your field. Content marketing is indeed indirect marketing.
Now that you are starting to understand what problems you are solving with your content, it is time to dig deeper into keywords. What words are they using when searching for help? What words do they recognize as relevant in their news feed. So you end up with two lists, actively used keywords, and passively recognized keywords. Your list does not have to be comprehensive.
The trick and challenge here is to find the vocabulary your audience is using, not the vocabulary you are using. They might be totally different. Your customers might have already learned to speak your “language”, so you have to think what words they used in the very first interaction.
The Company Blog Success Formula Series:
- The Company Blog Success Formula, what makes or breaks your company blog, and how to achieve success
- Rich blogger, poor blogger: How to build your audience and content assets for success (Assets)
- Behind every legendary blog is a great promoter (Promotion)
- 11 finishing steps that make your blog post great [ Greatness ]
- Blogging is a volume sport, why? [ Quantity ]
- Without [ Content - Audience Fit ], your company blog will fail
- Road to blogging success is paved with constant small improvements
- 7 must-haves of a Minimum Viable Blog [ CHECKLIST ]
Written by Antti Pietilä
Antti is the founder and CEO at Loyalistic (Simple Content Marketing Software for B2B Companies) who loves to help SaaS-companies to grow at Software Entrepreneurs (@ohjelmisto_ry) and cycle. Say hello to him anytime @anttipietila.