It’s hard to believe that Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail” (see here) is a decade old now. Even so, the information within is still so valuable. While many mainstream businesses still market to the lowest common denominator, trying to reach as many people as possible and appease the masses, the modern savvy content marketer knows that finding a niche, that is, being more specific, will be more profitable and rewarding for you in the long run.
Finding a niche means attracting your ideal audience. It means building your tribe.
James Earl Jones’s character in the movie Field Of Dreams (see here) may have famously said, “If you build it, they will come,” (see here) but we all know that doesn’t really work when it comes to content marketing. The Internet is so big a place, and there are so many “fields” already built, that if you compete to attract the masses, you’re almost certainly doomed to fail.
Now, I don’t really know that much about baseball, but I imagine every baseball field is more or less the same as every other baseball field. Sure, the location might be different, and I’m sure some baseball fields are nicer than others, but when you get right down to it, they are all just so… generic.
That is not the way you want your site or blog to be.
Instead, you have to treat your online platform more like a fishing lure. The way you produce, package, and broadcast your content must be specifically designed to attract a unique kind of audience. You want to appeal to your ideal tribe.
Consumers of your content should resonate not only with what you have to say but also the way that you say it, your tone and voice, which is completely unique to you. Without getting too metaphysical here, we can actually say that they need to resonate with your values and view on life, at least to a certain extent. All of those things form part of your core message.
So how can you know how to personalize your content, like a fishing lure, to attract your ideal audience? Here are three ways to attract your ideal audience and build your tribe.
Use Your Imagination
You’ll need to put on your thinking cap for this one.
Close your eyes with me. (Now, of course, you can’t really close your eyes, or you won’t be able to keep reading. So why don’t you read through this section first, and then close your eyes?) Try to imagine the ideal consumer of your content, the ideal participant in your community, and the ideal customer in your business.
Who is this person? Is it a man or woman? Do they have children, are they young or old, are they working professionals or everyday people, what is their average yearly income, what are their interests, what part of the world do they live in or come from? What kind of food do they like? You get the idea.
True, some of these questions may seem a little bit bizarre for your particular business model, and that’s okay. You can customize the questions to fit the kind of business you are running, as well as the kind of content you want to create. But this fact remains true: the more you know about your ideal consumers, the better.
This is especially important when you’re just starting out because you probably don’t already have a budding tribe to concentrate on. When nobody is listening to you just yet, or when you haven’t been able to get to know those that are listening to you yet, it can be helpful to imagine someone on the other end of the line, so to speak.
Now that you have your ideal consumer clearing your mind, ask yourself: What does your ideal audience need from you? What are they looking for when they come to your site? What questions do they have, or what problems are they facing in their life that you can help them with?
Focusing on those questions will help you decide what content to create next. Then, in turn, that content will be specifically designed to attract your ideal audience.
As you continue to create fresh content, you will slowly begin to attract a budding tribe. Then, you will be able to transition from imagining people in your audience actually getting to know the real people that are consuming your content!
Do Some Market Research
Do those words above give you a headache? I know that just hearing the words “market research” makes some people’s ears bleed. And, to be honest, I’m one of those people. So let me put you at ease right away and tell you that we’re only talking about a very light kind of market research here. This is something you can do without feeling like you’re in high school or college again.
Remember that ideal audience you brainstormed in the previous section? Now, ask yourself: Where else might they go online to hang out? What places might the visit get their questions answered? Perhaps the website of one of your competitors? Maybe on certain forums or certain corners of social media?
Once you have an idea, go out and try to find those people. Why? Because, if you find your ideal audience drinking out of someone else’s watering hole, you’ll want to figure out how you can pull them away and get them where they truly need to be—feeding off your content!
No matter what business you have, or what niche you are creating content in, chances are there is already an overpowering flood of content available in that niche online somewhere. Your ideal audience is trying to get their needs satisfied by all that content that is already out there. Little do they know that they will soon be completely satisfied by being part of your tribe.
For now, they are trying their best with what is already available to them, and even though that content might feel “good enough,” they still have questions, unfulfilled needs. And, chances are, somewhere online, your ideal audience is expressing their frustrations and asking those questions they can’t find answers to.
As Jeff Goins brings out here (see here), in order to build a tribe it is absolutely essential to get and stay relevant to your audience. What could possibly be more relevant than answering the questions your audience has?
If you find those questions your ideal audience is asking, and if you address them in your content, satisfying those needs, you will be customizing your message to fit perfectly with your ideal audience. Now, if you build THAT, they WILL come!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
If you are just starting out creating content, the first two tips in this article will be crucial to help you attract your tribe.
But, let’s assume that you already have a budding tribe, a small but dedicated audience tuning in each day/week/month what you have to say. How can you better mold your content and message to help them, while at the same time sharpening your focus to attract more of your ideal audience?
The answer is simple: Just ask your audience! As a recent Copyblogger article brings out (see here), asking for suggestions from your audience is a great way to show that you are flexible and that you care about who is consuming your content.
So, don’t be afraid to ask them what they would like to hear from you. What questions do they feel have still been left unanswered? What special situation are they facing right now that they would like personalized help to overcome?
Remember, as we said earlier, if you don’t satisfy those needs that your consumers have, it’s very likely that some other content creator will come along, doing his/her “market research,” identifying unanswered questions and addressing them in his/her own content, pulling your audience away from what you have worked so hard to build.
You certainly don’t want that.
Instead, why not be friendly and flexible? A caring and responsible content creator will tune in to their audience and learn how to better help them. Do that, and you will solidify the relationship you have with your current tribe, while at the same time, attract more of the same kind of person, people who have the same needs and questions as your current audience.
Now that is guaranteed to get you a strong, unified, profitable tribe.
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