You almost certainly already know how important it is to write for your target audience. You probably did a lot of work to establish what they were thinking before you ever started writing thought leadership pieces. But how long ago was that? You need to keep up-to-date with your target audience, and here are our recommended habits to cultivate to make sure that you do.

Remember that your current customers are not your whole target audience. As a subject matter expert, you are almost certainly getting feedback from your current customers. You should be hearing responses to your posts and social media activity. But there is a trap. Those who are reading your current posts may not be your whole target audience. Remember to keep checking to see what the rest of your target audience—those not currently in touch—is thinking.

Stay abreast of your subject area. As a subject matter expert, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you know more than you do. It is vital to keep abreast of what is going on in your subject area. For example, you can use social media to keep track of what other thought leaders in your field are saying, and what engagement they are getting. Market research does not stop when you have identified your target audience.

Get out there and meet people. Connecting via social media is all very well. In fact, it’s a very good start. But that’s all it is. You also need to meet people face to face, in real time, and talk to them. Only by doing so can you really get an understanding of what they want. There is no substitute for human interaction. While this is going to be a challenge during social distancing measures, there are proxies such as interactive virtual roundtables.

Whenever you meet people, ask them questions. Make a point of actively talking to your customers and potential customers about their problems and frustrations, and also what has helped them. Get specific feedback about what you’re doing, especially if you’ve already connected via social media.

Craft your posts around what your target readers want. It may sound obvious, but it is a lot easier to decide on the story in your message if you know what your target readers want. Keep your audience in mind as you write, and make sure that your story delivers what they want, each and every time.

Consider what your audience needs to know. Segment your audience as much as possible so that you really address their needs. Decision-makers need less detail, but more pros and cons, for example. Using very specific buyer personas can help here, because you can think about who precisely you are targeting with a particular post.

You can’t please all of the people all the time… Even within a relatively tightly-defined target audience, there is still going to be a range of needs and wants. You won’t be able to please everyone all the time. But if you take the time to ask people what they have enjoyed, and what they want from you, you will understand a bit more about the range of expectations in your target audience, and can tailor your content to fit.

Remember your ‘secondary audience’. Your primary audience is your main target: the people that you want to read your posts. But they may use your writing for other purposes. They may, for example, share your articles with others. In a B2B context you are creating content to solve your customers’ problems. One of those problems may be to explain something to their customers. If your article explains things simply, it solves the problem. It’s therefore worth knowing that secondary audience as well.

Getting your own thoughts straight first can help. If you are writing about a new or complex topic, it can help to get your thoughts straight before you start to think about your audience. But it’s a bad idea to write your article without bearing your audience in mind. A good way to manage these two conflicting issues is to write a list of bullet points that sets out what you know about the subject, including different points of view, and then draw on those to write for your audience.

Carry out the ‘Would I…?’ test with all your posts. It’s a simple test. Ask yourself ‘Would I be interested to read this?’, and ‘Would I bother to finish the article?’. If the answer’s no, then don’t expect your target audience to be interested either.

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