How can you have a consistent brand voice and story, but appeal to different types of audiences? How do you do it when you have limited time and resources? Once you complete your audience analysis and core messaging priorities, both integral parts of your content strategy, you may be asking yourself a questions like these, too. Here's a place to start:
My clients are communicating with many audience types, including:
Write down your audience types, then put them in priority order. If they are equally important to your business, consider these factors:
As an example, look at eBay. Buyers and sellers are equally important. But Buyers is the larger group. And the seller is motivated to find the information that's just for them, so they will. Buyers is the priority group for messaging architecture purposes. Another example: Cleveland Clinic. Patients are a priority, yes? But so are partnering medical professionals and staff. But patients is the larger group, and medical professionals and career seekers can easily scan to find information for them.
Let's say you are creating an email or enterprise web content for an energy services company. Your biggest audience is commercial businesses, but you need to build up your vendor partners first. Who's the primary audience then? You need to know, because your audience helps you decide what you talk about. The answer is the commercial businesses. Vendor partners still want to first see what you're selling them, after all. Then, they'll seek out information that's just for them. Here are a few options to consider:
Let's say you have three different products and three different targeted audiences for each one: wine-drinkers, beer-enthusiasts, and cocktail-lovers. You've determined that beer drinkers want a playful, edgy voice. Wine drinkers want something more sophisticated. And cocktail lovers want a blend of both. Try to prioritize first by considering:
Can you prioritize them? If so, think about the first priority when you're writing. Just remember, your brand voice -- essentially your personality -- should be consistent no matter who you're talking to. Then, as you're communicating about each product type, consider changing your tone as needed. Your brand voice won't change, but if you're talking about wine, for example, try using a more sophisticated tone. Think of it as the difference between raising your voice in a bar to be heard, and speaking in hushed tones while someone is playing piano. Same personality, different situation.
Content planning really gets sticky when you're targeting an audience in a specific location or of a specific culture, but you still want the content to appeal to other cultures and places. For example, let's say you're in higher education with an online and traditional university campus in California, and you'd like to attract more students from Japan (a secondary audience). Here are some things to keep in mind:
Shelly Bowen, MFA, is a content writer, content strategist, and founder of Pybop.
For decades, Shelly has written for businesses on complex topics from disease prevention and medical devices to alternative energy and leveraging data. Today, she's hyper-focused on supporting B-B technology businesses. In her spare time, she hikes, kayaks, draws, and works on her T-Bird.
A wide variety of brands rely on Shelly as an essential freelance writer and content strategy resource.