I met with a friend regarding blog content for her website awhile back over lunch. Part of it was an excuse to talk about content marketing over gastronomical goodness and part of it was to take advantage of one of the very few low-humidity summer days Pittsburgh has to offer. Over delicious burgers and sunlit tables, we talked about her plans for a blog. The further into the conversation we went, it became clearer that she didn’t really have a grasp on her audience. Knowing your audience is an essential building block to content management. While you may understand your product inside and out, it’s relating your product to your customer that will bridge the gap of communication. It’s important to have this down because when you begin planning content, you need to know to whom you’re writing. Where do they live? What are their spending habits? Is your audience one particular type of person, or do you have different segments? What’s more, the audience needs to be broken down very deeply because, beyond identifying who the audience is, you also need to ask yourself, “Why should they care about my content?”
Although today, audience identification is associated with marketing practices, the process actually dates back to the ancient Greek scholars known as Sophists who were paid to teach people how to use speech and persuasive arguments to win their audience over. It might sound simple now, but at the time it was new and even threatening to some.
Don’t confuse me with the facts.” ~ Earl Landgrebe
One of the tenants of Sophistry is to tailor your speech (or writing) to your audience. The same is true today, because, while your content is very important, the way it is delivered is equally important. You wouldn’t write to a customer the same way you would write to a co-worker, and you wouldn’t write to your 13-year-old child the same way you would write to your boss. Similarly, tailoring your content to the different segments of your audience is a way to reach out to these different groups with a personal voice and communicate with them in a way they can understand and relate to.
In my previous blog post that shows the correlation between an ice cream endeavor and content management, the recipe for the perfect homemade ice cream base was explained. Now here are 4 ways (and recipes) to tailor your message to your audience, each one simply building off the base of your message.
By the way, if you haven’t tried the ice cream base yet, I absolutely recommend it. So far, I’ve made 4 different flavors from it! I won’t lie to you. I am in love.
1. Your base message…with a little something extra
When you have content that is as good as the brown butter ice cream, sometimes you can let it shine on its own, with a hint of flavoring to enhance it. For instance, let’s say you’re a small town bank in middle America. You’re proud of your longtime standing in the community. While you have different segments you’re reaching out to through your blog, at heart, your message is good rates through a trusted company. You can incorporate various tactics at different times to sweeten your message and add a little flavor variation, but the base of your blog emphasizes the trusted culture your bank has.
Chocolate Syrup by Alton Brown
As I said, this ice cream stands just fine by its own delicious self. But, I have a soft spot in my heart for plain ice cream and chocolate syrup, thanks to summers at my grandmother’s. She eschewed flavored ice cream, and instead, introduced me to the joys of chocolate flavored high fructose corn syrup.
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
In a small pot, bring water and sugar to a boil and whisk in cocoa, vanilla, salt, and corn syrup. Whisk until all of the solids have dissolved. Reduce sauce until slightly thickened. Strain and cool to room temperature. Pour into squeeze bottles. Squeeze into cold milk and stir for delicious chocolate milk or serve on your favorite ice cream. And, hey, it’s fat free!
2. Go with what you know
Let’s say you own a vineyard, for instance, and part of your target audience is working mothers who need a break at the end of a long week to get away with their girlfriends for a few hours of laughs. As a mother yourself, you can identify readily with your audience. Instead of trying to be something you’re not, simply blog about what you know. Tell the story about the way a glass of wine after a long day at work can give you a moment of much needed sanity. This is authentic and will resonate with your audience.
Amazing Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream from A Flexible Life
The original recipe that came with the Brown Butter base was Brown Butter Pecan. I knew, having tasted Jen’s creation before, that it was a sure thing.
1 c pecans
2 T butter
1/2 t sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Microwave butter in a bowl, then toss pecans and sea salt to coat. Spread out onto an ungreased cookie sheet or pan and bake in oven for 9-12 minutes, being careful not to burn. Set aside to cool.
Add according to your ice cream maker instructions.
3. Nostalgia is powerful
Nostalgia is a great tool to connect with your intended audience. Look no further than Coca-Cola, who is steeped in nostalgia, from retro glass bottles to Santa Claus. The same can be done for your brand. Well, you may not have the history that Coke has, but the idea is to take your audience back to a place of comfort. Maybe it’s the 80’s, or maybe it’s a memory of going to Grandma’s house. Whatever it is, use your content to play to these emotions. It’s a marketing tactic that’s worked for years, and it will work for you.
Peanut Butter Dough
This is my very own creation, a nod to my past connection with the extraordinarily unhealthy peanut butter dough of my childhood. Picking out the ingredients made me cringe the entire time. Powdered milk? Jif peanut butter? Karo syrup? And yet somehow, the flavors in this base melded and swirled perfectly.
1 cup Jif peanut butter
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Combine in one bowl and mix together. You’ll need to use your hands halfway through. Once everything is mixed, add into ice cream according to your ice cream maker instructions.
4. Go with the seasonal push
For businesses, picking the right season is part of tailoring your message because there is a time and a place for everything, as Solomon and the Byrds describe. A season doesn’t necessarily have to refer to the changing weather patterns. It can also refer to holidays or observed events. If you are a publishing company, for example, celebrating Banned Books Week would be the perfect time to talk about books you have that are similar to those that have been banned in the past. Try to capitalize on news items as well. Any association with a particular trend that will resonate with your audience has the potential to boost your sales.
Berry Crumble from Take a Megabite
I am a sucker for just about anything berry. Strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and though it took a few years, blueberry too. Berries picked fresh from the (often prickly) bush are the absolute best. Pair the sweet/sour flavor with crunchy, and I am putty on the floor with my foodgasm. Oddly enough, berries in the winter, to me, just don’t taste as good. I still eat them, don’t get me wrong. There’s just something about eating them in season that makes them right.
For berry compote:
- 1 pint berries (mixture of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled
For berries: Preheat your oven to 375F. Combine berries with sugar in an 8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Gently mix. Roast for 8 minutes. Let cool slightly before pureeing with lemon juice in a food processor. Strain puree into a small bowl through a fine mesh strainer. Chill.
For crumble: Make crumble. Turn your oven down to 350F. Line with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, the remaining 1 cup of sugar, salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon into a medium bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes, or until golden. Cool completely.
Once ice cream has been made, layer in a one-quart container with the leftover berry puree and crumbles. Top ice cream wit plastic wrap and an airtight lid. Freeze for at least 4 hours. You’ll have extra crumbles for serving.
In summary, you have to know your audience before you can tailor your content. From there, be creative and you will likely be impressed with all the sweet results you gain.