“Write for your customers” might be the most common bit of content marketing advice, but it should come with a caveat. Don’t just write for your existing customers; write for all your customers, including the ones you want to earn. The difference is far from subtle. It will help you orient your writing towards broader audiences, increasing the chances that your strategic content goals succeed.
There are several reasons not to write solely for existing client personas. The biggest one? You already have your existing audiences in the bag, and they occupy a much smaller space than all the new customers and content amplifiers you should be aiming to reach. If you set your sights on particular publishers or podcasts, for instance, you can earn shares that grow brand awareness and usher people into your lead funnel.
All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t provide value to your existing customer personas. Instead, consider personas from all along your marketing funnel, including the non-customers who help make certain strategies work. Once you begin to position your content in a way that encourages not only customer retention but also acquisition and amplification, you will find that your content helps you accomplish your goals more consistently.
Still, confused? Learn below exactly what we mean when we say “write for all your customers,” how you can accomplish this, and why writing for existing customers is bad in the first place.
What Happens When You Write Content Just for Your Existing Audiences
Let’s consider the standard content writing strategy that many seasoned marketers, including ourselves, have advocated in the past.
It goes like this: you want to ensure your marketing content—which includes blogs, emails, white papers, etc.—is more than just keywords and calls to action. It should have value, a reason for people to want to read it.
On the flip side, it should never have value just for your company. Far too many businesses write blogs that are nothing but keywords and advertising pitches. No one has any reason to read this!
To make sure your content has value and gives audiences a strong reason to read, most people suggest you put yourself in the mindset that you’re talking directly to your customers. To do this formally, you can take your existing customers and lump them into different “segment” categories. For instance, many of your customers might be business owners. Others might be well-off people with limited time.
Then, you craft a fictional persona of an idealized version of a person from each segment. A persona of a business owner client might be a seasoned entrepreneur who depends upon your hypothetical tax accounting business to handle their quarterly paperwork. A wealthy career woman might similarly appreciate your ability to find deductions and ways to reduce her tax burden.
So you write content with these people in mind, and everyone’s happy, right? Well, not quite. The problem is that writing for just these audiences can only satisfy a few goals, such as customer retention and upselling/cross-selling.
Your content marketing strategy is bound to have many more goals beyond that, such as:
- Getting guest posts published on blogs that expose thousands of new people to your brand
- Earning shares from influencers and publishers that serve as strong ranking signals and improve your search ranking
- Improving brand awareness and brand recall
- Creating new lead sources
Your content can’t possibly meet these goals if you’re just writing to appease existing customers. There’s just not enough of them.
Your content may also have blinders on the typical knowledge and pain points non-customers have. You can’t appeal to broad audiences and you certainly can’t appeal to publishers and influencers looking for views if all you do is write for people who already buy from you.
What It Means to Position Your Content to New Customers
Basically, positioning your content towards new customers means writing on topics and answering questions that general audiences might have about your industry. Consider that your existing customers already kind of “get” what your business does, and they therefore might have more specific questions about your industry. On the other hand, general audiences might have no clue where to begin. They might not even know your industry exists!
Here’s an example relating once more to a tax accountant business:
- Question from existing client persona — “Why can’t I apply the standard deduction to my 1099 income?”
- Question from a potential new client — “What does 1099 independent contractor income mean, and how does it affect my taxes?”
- Question from general blog audience — “What is the standard tax deduction?” or “What does it mean to be an independent contractor?”
As you can see above, broader audiences may have questions that you would consider mind-bogglingly basic. These questions are asked by people who have no idea where to begin. More importantly, they’re questions a lot more people can relate to.
To you, writing for your existing customers may sound much more interesting. You get to answer tough questions and recap debates you and your colleagues have had for years. You also get to provide information that you consider valuable. In many ways, your blogs pointed at customers will give away advice for free that you normally charge people for.
If you feel passionate about this category of blog writing, then keep at it! But also recognize the role it plays within your overall content marketing strategy. Your ability to have cool conversations with your clients in order to maintain relationships is probably not as important as your ability to draw in new leads and rank on search engines.
Blogs written for general audiences answer questions that everyone is likely to have and cover topics that nearly everyone is talking about. Sure, you may think it’s lame to write a blog like “How Document Shredding Services Could Have Saved Tyrion in Game of Thrones,” but those kinds of blogs get clicks and shares. People who never imagined themselves reading about dry business subjects end up clicking and often sharing. Publishers hungry for traffic are more eager to host your article.
Similarly, you shouldn’t consider your business above writing topics like “Will a Tax Accountant Really Save Me Money?” and treating it objectively. You can’t get people interested if they don’t know what you do, and you can’t build audiences if the only people you write for are your existing customers.
The Best Content Marketing Strategies for Writing to New Customers
There are a few ways to take the advice we’ve given above and put it into action.
Your first step is to expand upon your personas. In addition to your existing customers, include:
- Influencers related to your industry
- Editors for blogs you want to get shares or guest posts from
- Generic audiences who tend to click on content that appeals to short attention spans
- People who have an extremely low foundational knowledge of your industry
- People who might decide they need your services after they learn exactly what you do
- Potential new customers who might not fit inside your existing client segments
You can also segment your personas according to the mindset of someone at specific stages of your buying funnel.
- You need to make general audiences aware of the work you do and why it’s important by writing about basic concepts.
- You need to nurture interest among people who may not have considered your services because they aren’t aware of key differences between service providers.
- You need to help people decide on the services they need by going into greater detail about your work or revealing the value in certain service options.
- You need to retain your existing customers by talking to them in-depth about interesting industry topics while also giving them valuable information that nurtures long-term relationships.
Only a fourth of these buying stages involves writing to your existing customers. As for everyone else, you are going to have to educate them and make them interested in your services while you also somehow entertain them.
When you can approach content marketing in this way, don’t be surprised if your content gains more traction among bigger audiences. After all, having a niche is great for a business, but you’re going to have put work into explaining why that niche is so appealing in the first place.