Our first step is to “be where our audience is”. But on top of this, we are also going to have to first identify and possibly even choose our audience.
If you already have a business or a website, then your audience will already be selected. You have likely already put a lot of work into your online presence and you probably will not want to start again from scratch. That means you already have your audience and you just need to find where they are. But if you do not already have your business model, then that means that you can take a step back at this point and choose what audience you are going to target. Because as we will learn, some audiences are certainly easier to find than others.
Your audience, is going to be entirely dependent on the topic of your Website or Blog, or the nature of your product or service. If you are selling surf boards, then your audience is likely to be young people in their teens and 20s, who probably live near a beach somewhere. Conversely, if you are selling a weight loss plan for Vegetarians, then your audience is: Vegetarians.
Your product/topic informs your audience, and your audience defines your product or service. If you have not yet chosen your audience, then that means that you can design your product and your website with this point in mind.
What Makes a Great Audience?
So, if you do have the luxury of choosing your audience, what kind of audience should you pick?
The ideal here is always going to be an audience that is large enough for you to make a lot of potential sales/money from advertising, while still being small enough that you can reach them directly. You also want to pick an audience that is not already overly saturated with Marketing.
So, to quite simply answer the main question poised in this text:
How do you stand out in a noisy world?
One answer is: go where it is less noisy.
In other words, if your plan is to create a generic fitness website, then you should be aware that you just made yourself a massive uphill struggle. The simple act of picking a topic that is so widely appreciated now means that you do not have a very “specific” audience to target. You now must target pretty much everyone which makes your focus far broader and far less specific.
At the same time, by having a niche that is so popular, you are now going head-to-head with millions of other websites. You will be taking on Bodybuilding.com directly for instance and any number of famous Fitness and Health Bloggers. This is a huge undertaking as you are now going up against a massive number of competitors and trying to stand out in an area where there are many other companies spending thousands or even millions of dollars on their advertising.
On the other hand, if you were able to find a much smaller market that was not being catered to, then you could reach them directly, offer them something they cannot get anywhere else and then corner that market. The only problem with this strategy is that you will now very quickly run out of potential customers and no longer be able to grow. The trick is to find an audience that is big enough to help you meet your goals but not so saturated that it is impossible to stand out.
One great strategy is to aim a small cross section of a much larger audience. So, for example, this might mean that you create a Blog on “Fitness for Vegetarians”, or “Fitness for kids”. In doing this, you have now taken a huge audience that you can grow into, but you have given yourself a small, focused demographic within that much bigger area. You can later branch out and start bringing in more potential customers in future.
Of course, you also need to think about the kind of audience you are going to be targeting and the kind of audience that will once again help you to meet your goals. It is not just about the size of that demographic and the accessibility; it is also about whether these are the kinds of people who are loyal fans, the kinds of people who buy products online and the kinds of people with disposable income. Of course, the perfect reader for your blog is someone who will sign in every day and who will be tempted to buy the products that you put in front of them!
Spend some time surveying your audience and doing market research. Assess the competition, look at buying habits and then ask yourself if you would do better to slightly broaden or narrow your scope.
Finding Your Route to Market
Once you have your audience, you have your market. The next thing to do is to think about “being where your audience is hanging out”. What that means, is that you must find your audience. And the best way to do this is to find a “route to market”.
Route to market is a business term that basically means a direct access point to the kind of person who is right for your website/business. If you can find a route to market, then you can almost guarantee profit. Because really, the simple truth of any Content Marketing strategy or even any business model is that you are trying to identify an audience, create something you can sell to them and then put that thing in front of that audience. When you simplify it like this, it really is a very easy process – you just need a way to connect group X with product/website Y.
Note that television is not a route to market – that is just a platform through which you Market. A route to market is something that much more specifically leads to that exact audience. So, a perfect example would be an industry magazine. If you have a website about gardening and you are selling gardening tools, then a gardening magazine would be an ideal route to market. So too would be gardening forum. There are also many ways to think about this with Digital Content Marketing and Strategy as well.
And the easiest way to start a business and to start making money is to select a small, uncatered-for audience that you already have access to. So, think about your existing contacts and resources: do you know the editors of any magazines? Do you know any top Bloggers or YouTube vloggers? Do you happen to be head of a fan club? Do you lecture at a University on a given subject?
Now you just need to create the product and Blog for that audience, and you have a fool proof recipe! Do not make life difficult for yourself: take the path of least resistance, use existing contacts, and target the most responsive groups. And if the area that you have access to is not in the niche that you want to work with, see this as a starting point and use it to begin your growth. Once you have conquered one small niche/industry, you can move on to the next.
Know Your Audience
But what if you genuinely don’t already have any contacts you can turn into routes to market? Or what if you have exhausted those options/don’t want to go that route?
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The next step is to profile your audience. In Marketing, we refer to something called a “persona”. A persona is an imaginary biography that describes the ideal kind of person you are writing for and the ideal kind of person that you want to sell to/attract to your website.
So, if we are going back to the gardening magazine, then your persona might be an older man, nearing retirement age. Or then again, if you took my earlier advice and decided to aim for a smaller portion of a large market, your persona might be “young, active professionals, looking to create their own gardening business”. Knowing your persona will impact on the type of content you write and the kind of tone of voice you use – and this is something I frequently discuss with clients.
But at the same time, your persona is also going to define the kind of place that’s ideal for you advertising.
In Internet Marketing there is a saying which is: be everywhere. Your ultimate objective is to have a very strong Social Media presence on every single big platform as well as to have your own website and really just finders in as many pies as humanly possible. In my Business Coaching, I describe it as,
“Have something good to say, say it well, and say it often”.
This is all good and well but unfortunately, it may not be realistic for the small-time Entrepreneur. Eventually you might get there but in the short term, it makes a lot more sense to focus your efforts on one social network primarily and on one strategy primarily. Again, this means thinking about the kind of person you are aiming at. The older generation for instance is not all that likely to be on SnapChat or WhatsApp. Stats tell us that this is a younger person’s game! If you want a hip young audience, then Instagram and SnapChat are the places to be. If you want earlier adopters/techies, then try out Periscope and live video streaming. This will even affect the small details. If you are sending out emails as part of your Email Marketing campaign, then ask yourself what time of day your typical reader is likely to be most active! And of course, there is always more … 🙂
Here’s To Your Success!
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