Your ideal customer should be able to make a connection with your company or products. A connection that helps them make informed decisions. Content should be tailored to why they came searching in the first place.

Any stellar content marketing strategy has a steady flow of quality content—content that tells a story to a particular audience. The goal of segmentation is to define who and why that person should care about listening to you.

The smaller the segment you’re speaking to, the more targeted your content is likely to be. The more targeted your storytelling the higher chances of converting that reader into a buyer.

Below are 4 key areas to think about when defining your target audience and creating content segments:

Resonate with the desired outcome: intention to buy.

Focus content efforts on storytelling

Creating a content strategy without a clear understanding of who you’re actually speaking to can cause you to spin your wheels. You’re producing informative content and you’re taking action. But, your content is not working toward a specific goal.

Conversion of readers to buyers doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by developing a targeted content strategy that tells a cohesive story. Your efforts should aim to reach customers you want to have listening.

Without a strategic goal, you could spend large amounts of time and money with no strong results. Targeted storytelling raises awareness and focuses on people that are more likely to make a decision.

Here’s a few ways target audiences inform your strategy:

They help raise awareness to the right people

Targeted storytelling helps your audience understand what your brand and service do. Based on a specific set of problems they’re facing, you can target decision making.

Messaging should focus on a job-to-be-done rather than generic messaging without a focal point.

Content promotes brand discovery (by extension, revenue opportunities)

Getting content in front of someone who has never heard of you is an effective, non-invasive way to introduce yourself. Draw attention to specific problems you’re solving. People searching for solutions see immediate value from their first interaction.

Content fosters qualified sales leads

Draw attention to specific problems you’re solving. People searching for solutions can see immediate value when content targets a need. Target audiences don’t just help you pitch a product or service—it’s giving potential customers information that will make them reward you with their business.

Understanding your target market starts with answering, “who am I?” to customers or clients

Each segments gives you the opportunity to target them with laser-focused content that tells a story unique to them. From newsletters, ads, blog posts, and other content types, you’re able to tie your marketing efforts to a specific niche.

You resonate with specific buyers, your buyers should resonate with you. If you choose one niche or more, start by defining who is most likely to grab onto your messaging and stay interested. Begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • What informs the individuals within these groups to buy or make a decision?
  • What problem(s) does my company’s product, services, or offerings solve?
  • What does my audience not care about that I should avoid focusing on?
  • What is the goal or purpose I’m hoping to achieve through marketing content to them?

Different segments are likely to consume content in different ways, through different channels. A new family in the community may be eager to check out local bulletins, street ads, or check local stores to see what’s going on. Young couples may consume more content on social sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Documenting your target audience needs will help you understand who your content speaks to. From there you’re able to iterate on your content marketing plan. Also, target audiences help with identifying potential blockers that may impede your success and content performance.

This creates a pro-active content marketing strategy.

Don’t be naive, you have competitors—use this information to your advantage don’t let it stand in your way

Chances are in your line of business you have competition or restrictions preventing your target audience from engaging with you. Successful segmentation also relies on defining who might be competing within your niche, or what might be preventing your niche from interacting with you.

WHY? Because knowing what others do helps you define what you can stay away from (too much competition) and what opportunities you have to pull customers from other products that are similar to yours. It will also enable you to set your prices competitively. You can use research you find on your competitors to create marketing strategies that take advantage of weaknesses and improve your own performance.

Exploring these potential blockers ensures your content efforts are focused predominately on opportunities. This also ensures you’re realistic about how successful you can be against others in your space.

Tactics to help discover potential blockers you may encounter:

  • Define, “Who is my competition?” Start with a quick search on Google and social media using keywords, industry related terminology, or location.
  • What does my target segment stand to gain from choosing us over someone else?
  • What do we offer that no one else does, or if they do, as effectively?
  • Is there something we can do better than anyone else?

Put together a competitor profile including the following:

  • Segments Served: How does their customer base compare to yours?
  • Target market: Do their customers have similar or slightly different characteristics as your defined segments?
  • Content marketing efforts: What topics, trends, and concepts are they actively targeting and running campaigns on?
  • Channels of Distribution: Where do you distribute their content, on what frequency, and to what degree of success
  • Pricing, FAQs, support offered, details a customer may need to get started: Is this accessible on their website or buried? How open with their prospects are they with and without gated information?

Personas are meant to help you avoid generic statements and getting bogged down in unknowns

When it comes to putting together personas, there is no one correct way to do it. However, some simple mistakes can cause a loss of focus. Below are some common mistakes people make and how to avoid them.

AVOID: Generic or assumed statements of what makes your buyers make decisions.

How: Gather clear, non-assuming insights about how your personas make decisions by having actual conversations with them. Interview your current customers for testimonials and talk about their decision making process and what’s working.

AVOID: Getting bogged down in the details.

It’s more important to focus on challenges your personas are facing, goals they’re aspiring to reach, and what about your brand helps them get there over whether they’re female, male, or what color resonates the most with them. You can always skip the basic details and jump straight to persona points relevant to content. Begin by identifying barriers your audiences are facing and how you can help, challenges that would prevent them from getting started, goals they have, and their typical decision-making process/cycle.

DO! BE SURE TO: Define at least 1 “negative” persona, or those who aren’t your buyer.

There are people who you won’t, and probably never will, want to target. Your negative persona should include reasons from your sales qualification process that would de-qualify them. Reasons may include lack of budget or decision making authority, too expensive to acquire based on product or services needs they’ll have, or they simply need something you’re never going to be able to offer.

Spending time identifying people who will never be your customer will save you time and be a good check when creating content to ensure you’re not wasting time and money on selling to people you’re never likely to convert.