photo-1429962714451-bb934ecdc4ecFor the last two weeks, we’ve look at four different ways to bring a WOW factor to your content marketing – in the first post, we focused on content, while in the second post, we looked at email marketing. In today’s post, we’re going to wrap up our WOW series, and look at two final action steps you should be taking when it comes to your content marketing, and these focus on your audiences. We talk about audience a lot here on Zen, and especially about checking in with them, ensuring that the content that you’re delivering is the content that they want. These are two different audience angles/tactics to consider taking.

Step One: Get Focused

This step involves having a deep understanding of the different types of audiences that you have, and the goals that you have for your marketing/business development efforts – you’ll see why when I share Joe Pulizzi’s comments:

Make a decision NOT to take a content marketing approach to certain audiences. You most likely don’t have the resources to communicate valuable information consistently to all the audiences you target.

ACTION ITEM: Decide which audiences should not be targeted by your content marketing strategy in the next year. It’s OK to use other types of marketing, like direct mail or traditional advertising, to communicate with these particular audiences. However, be focused on your most important audiences and make the hard choices.

So what does that all mean?

It means that content marketing is not a one-size fits all tactic. Let’s say you’ve found that you love blogging, and it works well for you, and people react well to your blog. But that doesn’t mean it’s well suited for all of your goals. It just depends – and that’s why I always advocate having goals and a plan to start with.

First, you want to identify – what is it that I want? Do you want more clients in a particular area of the law or a particular industry? Do you want to be quoted as an industry expert by the top media sources a certain number of times in the next calendar year? Do you want to connect with the other thought leaders in your industry so that you can always be on the cutting edge of the latest trends and news?

Once you know what you want, translate that into a concrete, measurable goal. For example: I’d like to be mentioned by the New York Times as a subject matter expert for [fill in the blank] in the next six months.

That’s concrete, it’s measurable, and there’s a deadline on it.

From there, you develop your plan, and as part of that plan, you need to identify WHO you’re targeting in order to achieve your goals, and then what tactics you’ll use to reach them. These tactics may include content marketing…and they may not.

You may find that you have a number of goals, and, as a result, a number of audiences. Or even one goal, with a number of audiences that you need to reach to achieve that goal.

And when that happens, it’s essential to prioritize. Who is the most important group of people for you to reach, and what are the tactics you want to invest the most time and other resources in reaching them? Decide whether content marketing, or other types of marketing tactics, will be the most effective for reaching those audiences, based on your goals, your budget, and your timeline. You may need a professional marketer’s help with this.

Step Two: Get Competitive

Pulizzi and I differ a little on the action step here, but I like his starting point:

Make a list of your key competitors for each audience you target. Include media companies, bloggers, influencers, and competitors.

For lawyers, this list is going to be mostly focused on other lawyers (and in some cases, some influencers who aren’t lawyers). But where Pulizzi advocates a strategy of either doing nothing, partnering or buying them out, which is successful in other industries, I advocate something slightly different: Learn from them.

In the last step, you’ve already gotten very focused. You’ve drilled down to figure out who your audiences are for each of your goals, and so it should be a fairly easy step to identify the top five competitors for each of those audiences. But you’ll want to be very specific here, because it’s not just about the obvious law firm competitors that you’d face in a potential beauty contest. Are you also keeping an eye on who your competitors are for each of your content marketing channels? That means:

  • Blogging
  • YouTube/Vimeo
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook

It’s likely that if I said to you, “who are your top five competitors in x industry?” you could immediately name them. But if you looked a little deeper at who your top clients in that industry is also following on Twitter, you might be surprised – is it the same top five competitors? Or are there other firms in the mix? Do a little extra due diligence when you’re sussing out your competition in each of these channels to identify who is competing for your audience’s attention – it may not be as obvious as it appears at first glance.

Once you know who’s on the list, learn from them. While I love the idea of being ground-breaking, there are two truths here – the first is that lawyers don’t want to be first; they want to be first to be second. And the second is that we can often get great, creative ideas from seeing what others are doing. As you’re keeping an eye on your competitors in their respective channels, see what you like about their content, what you don’t like, what best practices you’d like to implement, what reinforces what you’re already doing, and what new ideas come to you to try out. You may even see something in one place that would appear revolutionary in another (for example, finding a way to conduct Twitter chats, which are old hat, over on Snapchat).

Staying on top of what your competition is up to is easier than ever these days with content marketing and social media – and it helps keep you on the cutting edge of your industry, see what your competitors are sharing with your audience (and thus how you can share a different and unique perspective, instead of the same old thing), and hopefully, inspires you to provide them with something brand new and engaging that will add that WOW factor to your content for your audience.

What audience tips and tricks do you use in your content marketing?