When it comes to content marketing, “know your audience” is advice akin to “brush your teeth at least twice a day.” Everybody knows that. But there’s a big difference between knowing your audience and seeing the world through their eyes.

Knowing your audience

Here’s what knowing your audience means:

  • Demographics
  • Occupation
  • Personae
  • Where they are in the sales funnel

Being your audience

Being your audience, on the other hand, means seeing the world through their eyes:

  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are they worried about when they get to work in the morning? What are they worried about when they leave?
  • What part of their job annoys them the most? What would make it easier?
  • What do they want from your content? A solution? A distraction?
  • Are they prospective customers? Or do they influence prospective customers?
  • If they influence prospective customers, what ammo can your content provide?
  • Are they already looking for a solution like yours? Or are they unaware that such a solution even exists?
  • If they don’t know such a solution exists, what else don’t they know? What questions do they not know to ask?
  • If they don’t know your solution exists, how can you catch their attention? What might they be doing when they just happen to stumble across your solution?
  • If they are actively looking for a solution, do they know what to search for or what questions to ask?
  • How might your own knowledge/expertise be getting in the way of connecting with your audience? Are you assuming they have more knowledge than they actually do? (Are you sure?)

When it comes to content marketing, there are two extremely dangerous cognitive errors you can make: Conflating what you know and what you think you know, and assuming that your audience is inside your head, knowing what you know and following your leaps in logic (that you earned through experience) without explanation. Because, if you’ve been living your niche for years, you probably go from point A to point Q without even realizing it, while your audience comes to a dead stop at point C.

That’s why it’s so important to see your content through your audience’s eyes. If you’re sure that they know what you know, believe what you believe, and can follow your thoughts without explanation…well, raise a glass, because you’ve got it made. If not…you’ve got some work to do. And it’s difficult work. It’s hard to remember what it was like when you didn’t know something…but that’s exactly what you have to do if you want your content to resonate with your audience. Knowing who they are isn’t enough if you’re still writing from your own perspective.