Building an audience: size doesn't matter

If you’re just launching a content marketing initiative, you’re probably focused on building an audience. The people who run your organization are very likely expecting you to build a big audience, emphasis on big.

Without question, that is the wrong goal.

The goal is to build the right audience – an audience that is likely to become customers at some point.

Clearly, you need to attract an audience of some substantive size; if you’re company sells $100 items and your audience consists of five people, that isn’t going to be a very successful business. However, except for a very few consumer products, size for the sake of size should not be your marketing goal.

However, if you’re only focused on creating a larger and larger audience, you’re going to go zooming past the point of diminishing returns. You’ll waste time, effort and money. The extreme example is a B2B company that buys a Super Bowl ad; congratulations – you’ve just reached more than 100 million people. Of course, the overwhelming amount of effort there has been spent on getting the attention of people that will never be your customers. Waste, waste, waste. But that’s only half the problem.

The other extremely important aspect of this is giving your audience something unique, something they can’t get anywhere else. And that means narrowing the focus of the content you deliver into the marketplace.

If you try to be too broad, you’ll fail. If your only metric is page views, you’ll fail – even if you attract a lot of eyeballs.

You want a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your prospects and customers. You want to create and deliver content that engages them, content that they can’t get anywhere else.

The quality of your audience is far more important that the quantity of it. This is particularly true for B2B companies; your content needs to be focused on some aspect of the world of widgets (or whatever you sell). That doesn’t mean you need to be promoting your products, because the audience will almost certainly tune you out and turn its attention to one of the many other content options it has.

Red Bull’s Red Bulletin is a good example from the B2C world that we can all wrap our heads around – it focuses on extreme sports and the extreme lifestyle, but it isn’t about energy drinks. It’s a very logical approach to positioning the Red Bull brand – they’ve built an environment in which they can thrive. If you’re the head of marketing for a widget company, I expect to learn something about the world of widgets when I find your content.

Too often, particularly when speaking with B2B companies and sometimes even with subject matter experts at our clients, they’ll say “no one wants to read about this stuff – it’s boring.” Immediately, that’s when our ears perk up, because it’s an indication that no one has ever created content about the topic that isn’t boring. In short, it isn’t a dead end; it’s an opportunity. Almost certainly, someone out there is required to consume content about this very topic, and yet everyone who’s ever tried to create content about it has done a lousy job.

This is your opportunity to create something for your niche audience. And if you are the one to go a mile deep on something that no one else is willing to touch, you’ll win. You’ll have helped a prospective customer to solve a specific pain, and the odds are significantly greater that they will begin to develop an affinity for your company. Reminder: That is your job – to attract potential customers and move them through the sales funnel. Your job is not to attract a huge number of people who don’t have any interest in ever becoming customers.

Aim narrow. You’ll likely attract a smaller audience. But that audience will be more focused, and more beneficial to your business.