February 14, 2022 Content Chat Recap: Why Content Marketers Should Rethink Their Ideal Customers

A #ContentChat header image featuring an array of flowers with a box overlay.  Inside the box is text that says today's topic is why content marketers should rethink their ideal customers, with guest Pamela Slim.

Do you have a clear understanding of your brand’s ideal buyer? Or is your team chasing too many personas with little results?

In this #ContentChat recap, we’re joined by Pam Slim, a writer, business coach, and co-founder of the Main Street Learning Lab, to explore why content marketers should rethink their ideal customers. Read the full recap below, where we explain how to define your brand’s ideal customers, ways to find untapped markets, and why it’s essential to partner with complementary businesses.

If you’re looking to learn more from Pam on how to build a thriving business, order a copy of her book today.

If anyone wants a workbook that has all the exercises from The Widest Net, you can grab it here: https://t.co/qpqcyMFrDC #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

Q1: How do you define your ideal customers? How do you group them and what key details do you include?

Pam and the community recommend defining your ideal customers by problems or challenges they face or their aspirations.

Q1: I define ideal customers using @susanbaier ‘s Audience Audit method — defining them by problem, challenge or aspiration #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

Q1: So for example, for one of my audience segments, they are biz owners with significant body of work who need to find alternative ways to share their IP b/c they are burnt out from delivering workshops #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

+1
I always focus on the pain points — what can our product/service alleviate in their day-to-day? #ContentChat https://t.co/MnOrnUpDla

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 14, 2022

Which is so important because it puts your focus on the customer, instead of your company. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

For sure! And then for folks who may shy away from thinking of every element as “pain,” I use words like “aspirations”

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A1: Our ideal customer is anyone in a small to medium business who strives to manage their contacts and people-related processes as efficiently as possible. We like to focus on working smarter, better, and faster 🙂 ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) February 14, 2022

I like that a lot. I could see the pain point angle would be biz owners who are exhausted by operating without plans and processes

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

Minimal demographic information could be helpful (especially for general consumer-facing companies), as long there is a clear purpose for including that information.

Q1: To add details, it might be some demographic info, like biz owners who focus on equity, or who are at 500k+ in revenue #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A1: I group my ideal customers based upon their shared problem statements.

I don’t focus a ton on demographics, since that isn’t always that useful to me from a content marketing perspective. Instead, I focus on who influences them + where they gather purchase data. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

Indeed! demographics can be important sometimes (like here at the Learning Lab where we focus on BIPOC entrepreneurs), but often less important than nailing the problems

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A1 We define our ideal customers as people with assets that they want to actively protect, and are interested in understand their coverages
We generally group them by location, age, and a few other minor factors
-Alyx#ContentChat https://t.co/8t6rHLJXKs

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) February 14, 2022

Ask “who can my business *really* serve” to most effectively define your ideal customers.

A1: In addition to pain points, I think it’s also important to look at what makes the most sense for your business focus and resources. Who can you *really* serve? Don’t make a sale just to make a sale. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 14, 2022

YES!!! Too often, especially when a company is just starting out, they can try to be everything to everyone. But that just burns you out. It’s important to understand your sweet spot. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

Most business owners can effectively support three separate audience segments before getting too scattered.

Q1: In general, most biz owners can support 3 audience segments (aka different problems) before getting scattered #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

This is such an important point.

When I onboard a new client and see they have 12 personas, I can readily anticipate they are having a hard time creating enough differentiated content to drive action and engagement. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

Q2: What mistakes do content marketing teams often make when defining their ideal customer personas or “avatars”?

Do not focus on demographics to define your ideal customer personas.

A2: Many marketing teams or biz owners focus on demographics first, which leads you nowhere when you try to create resonant content and valuable offers #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A2b @susanbaier often says if you are selling cars to “women aged 55,” there is no way to know uniformly what they want. I have a turquoise Mini Cooper — someone else may have a Suburban 🙂 #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

So true!

I always laugh when I get the robo calls about my car or insurance…because I don’t drive and never have. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

I couldn’t agree with this more. Focusing on demographics can get us hung up on stereotypes or assumptions that are not necessarily data-based…and that’s not going to help your content at all. #ContentChat https://t.co/lPb23oYaZa

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 14, 2022

And think about how you feel when you get a marketing message that assumes a bunch of things about you that simply aren’t true or relevant to your purchase decision-making? I play video games, but I’m not a guy, or ever going to buy a Tesla, for example.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

I so agree! It just makes you feel like a number.

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A2: I agree with this so much! Instead of focusing on demographics, I think it helps way more to focus more on what your ideal customer prioritizes; their problems, buying behavior, lifestyle, and what they look for in a brand ~Julie #ContentChat https://t.co/4nrT0ApH0P

— Nimble (@Nimble) February 14, 2022

A2: I agree! I just wrote a post about this (note that I have a blog post for everything! It is how I think! 🙂 https://t.co/G4aS1ue4we #ContentChat https://t.co/hooQU0TgZO

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

Stay limited with your number of personas and the information you track.

A2a: The most frequent issues I see with content marketing personas are:

1) Too many personas
2) Info that doesn’t affect content
3) Aspirational buyers#ContentChat https://t.co/fb8iZ9LZBC

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

A2b:
When you have a half dozen or more personas you are talking to, you need a large budget and content team to reach them all. And it’s going to be difficult to meaningfully differentiate between them.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

A2c:
When you are creating personas for content marketing, you need to document where they go for information, what channels and content types they prefer, and whose opinions they trust.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

Be realistic about the value of your product/service and its ideal buyer.

A2d:
And finally, if you are providing a budget solution, don’t aim to sell it to a luxury buyer. You need to be realistic about whom you are actually talking and selling to.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

And remember that there are plenty of complementary service partners who can be vital in helping you reach your ideal buyers.

A2c The other key to defining customers by problem/aspiration is it helps you to find great referral partners who sell a complementary service or product #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

I call them your “PB&J Partners” (blog post w/more detail here: https://t.co/C9RV6SIpbL ) #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

Yes!! Even as a marketing consultant, I have a number of such consultant and agency partners. /wave @NeoLuxeMo @SierraSummers #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

100%! in a convo with @sholarichards he once shared this African proverb; if you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together.

— sierrasummers (@SierraSummers) February 14, 2022

Q3: How can content marketers expand their audience to tap into new markets or areas of potential?

Pam explains how brands can expand into new markets in her book The Widest Net. She shares an overview of  the method below:

A3: This question frames the whole method of The Widest Net — here are the crib notes … #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A3b: The first steps are to know your deeper mission, your values, and your audience, defined by problem or challenge. #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A3c: With that, you uncover, in a systematic way, other ecosystem partners who are also helping your audience to solve their problem. #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A3d: Within the ecosystem, there are “watering holes,” places, in person and online, where another ecosystem partner has already gathered awesome people together #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A3e Kind of like us here today! I haven’t met most of you before, but because Erika invited me to #ContentChat to talk about problems we all love to solve for our clients, it is a one to many connection opportunity

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

Social listening is also a great way to understand your customer challenges and how they discuss their areas of interest.

A3: Social listening is a great way to start. You can learn so much about what your audience wants and what else they’re purchasing to see what industries overlap with yours ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) February 14, 2022

And you learn the language they are using to talk about their challenges and your product—which can inform the way in which you talk to them within your own content. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

Q4: What is a marketing “beacon,” and why is it important to choose a primary beacon?

A marketing “beacon” is a primary communication vehicle that you use to share your thought leadership and content.

A4: A Beacon in the Widest Net Method is a primary communication vehicle you use to share your own POV/thought leadership. #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A4: A marketing beacon is YOUR platform for sharing your expertise with your audience. Diversifying your content on different platforms is important but having a primary beacon on your own medium is the best way to go so all your content is truly yours ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) February 14, 2022

Make your beacon a channel that you control, like a blog, podcast, or newsletter.

A4b: Preferably, it should be something you control, like a podcast, blog or newsletter. This is the way you raise your hand and say “here is my point of view about how to solve the thing we are concerned with” #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

It can be tempting to claim a social media platform as your beacon, but what if they fold? Or change their algorithms? Much more impactful to build your platform on owned (not rented) land as @JoePulizzi always says!#ContentChat https://t.co/lKBDPC4ZmL

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

Exactly! I adore social media, but it is a risky strategy to put all your eggs in a basket someone could whisk away with!

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

Pam recommends Ann Handley’s newsletter and Guy Kawasaki’s podcast as great examples of marketing beacons.

A4c Some great examples of Beacons are @annhandley ‘s newsletter, or @GuyKawasaki ‘s Remarkable People podcast #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

Q5: What is the PB&J referral strategy, and how can it help brands build their business communities?

A PB&J partner is someone who offers a complementary, non-competitive product or service to your ideal customer.

A5: Hah — I see I got excited and shared the PB&J strategy earlier! Let me explain it more. #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A5b: A “PB&J Partner” is someone who offers a highly complementary, and non-competitive product or service to your ideal customer #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A5c For my “scaling their biz” clients, my PB&J partners are people like IP attorney @sharontoerek or @MikeMichalowicz ‘s great book and services around Profit First #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

How do you find a PB&J ecosystem partner? Ask your favorite clients about the provides they use and love.

A5d A great way to kickstart finding PB&J ecosystem partners is to ask your favorite clients: What other service providers are you using that you love? #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A5: I love this name! But it’s a non-competing brand that overlaps with your audience. Exploring this brand lets you learn more about your audience: their problems, priorities, the way they speak, and what content they like! ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) February 14, 2022

So smart! It’s also a great way to identify untapped content topics and ideas, too. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

Take your PB&J partnership to the next level by co-creating content, hosting an event, or sponsoring industry research together.

I love when I see PB&J partners come together to do things like create a podcast together, host a live event, or conduct industry research. It provides everyone with so much more value than if they went it alone. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

It creates the opportunity to build an inclusive, expansive community that serves the varying needs of your ideal customers. And that goodwill can eventually pay off when they become customers or refer others to you. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

Yes! Like @brianclark and @JoePulizzi who are collaborating on #CEX here in Phoenix in May! https://t.co/GE3WajJtyR

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

Q6: How have you successfully built your buyer community? What tips and success tactics can you share?

Stay focused on solving important problems and lead with a customer-first strategy to build your buyer community.

A6 I will say the biggest thing I have done to build my buyer community is to A) stay focused on solving important problems B) loving my community/clients up and being on their side for the long haul, not a transaction #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

A6b: Y’all will think I run a cult (I swear I don’t!) but one client called people she met through my programs “The Pamily.” #ContentChat

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

I’ve worked with some of the same clients the entire time I’ve been in business (5+ years), and some, even before that! It’s so rewarding to have those long-term relationships where you build something together over time. #ContentChat https://t.co/1F0aJY2Xh8

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) February 14, 2022

Yes! I just met with a client today who I have worked with for over 10 years, all the way back when he was still a corporate employee looking to leave to work for himself

— Pamela Slim (@pamslim) February 14, 2022

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