How do we create effective content for diverse audience types?

February 5, 2016
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Do Multiple Audiences Mean Tripled Content Efforts?

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:

1. Determine Your Audience Types

planning content for diverse audiences

My clients are communicating with many audience types, including:

  • Partners or Vendors/Service Providers/Clients or Customers
  • Buyers/Sellers
  • Patients/Caregivers/Doctors/Medical Staff
  • Students from different generations, cultures, countries, and languages/Paying Parents/Supporting Faculty and Staff
  • Customers/Media/Investors/Potential Employees
  • Lawyers/Professional Speakers/Legal Bars and Associations
  • Beer Lovers/Wine Drinkers/Craft Cocktail Makers

Write down your audience types, then put them in priority order. If they are equally important to your business, consider these factors:

  • Who needs and will access the content the most often?
  • Which group is bigger?
  • Which group is more able to navigate to the content that's most meaningful to them?

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.

2. Consider the Topic

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:

  • Allow for self-selection. Make sure your audiences can choose a path that's right for them.
  • Make sure that path is available from any and everywhere, even if they drop in in the middle.
  • Be very clear who you are speaking to, for example, with blog posts. Create categories for each audience type, if that's most appropriate. (E.g., don't switch intended audiences from post to post without warning.)
  • Send a vendor-targeted email to a vendor-specific page. Send commercial-business-targeted emails to commercial-audience pages.
  • Leverage stand-alone landing pages to test and tweak for different audiences.
  • When writing for "everyone," think about the commercial (primary) business first. Then go back and read the same piece while imagining you're a potential vendor. Clear up any confusions.

3. Keep Your Voice Consistent

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:

  • Which one is the largest audience?
  • Which one needs your content the most?
  • Which one is most lucrative to you now?
  • Which has the most revenue potential in the future?

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.

4. Think Regional, Cultural, and Local

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:

  • Different cultures react differently to marketing and advertising efforts. Hire a cultural expert and create targeted landing pages, ads, or micro-sites just for them.
  • Create a section of the site or category that caters to the culture or place, and make it easy for them to self-select content that applies to them.
  • Ask your cultural expert to review your primary content to help remove any cultural complexities or potential misunderstandings.
  • Group cultures or places into broader categories that might all have similar needs, behaviors, and goals.

Need help crafting content for diverse audiences? We're here to help. Contact us about potential contract content work, custom workshops, or content strategy accelerators.

About the Author: Shelly Bowen

Shelly Bowen, content strategist

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.

Follow Shelly on Instagram @pybop or connect on LinkedIn. More about Shelly and Pybop.

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