Every year I use the month of December to do a bit of an audit of how my blogging year went, and then plan out how I want to leverage the blog in the coming year. I pick December since it’s the last month of the year, plus traffic is typically down the first 2 weeks of the year anyway as we all get knee-deep into Holiday shopping and planning. So it’s the perfect time to take a step back and examine where you’ve been and re-assess where you are going.
When you’re planning for the coming year, it’s best to start with this question: Who is our desired blogging audience? In other words, what type of person do you want to read your blog? For your business blog, you’ll have answers like:
- We want readers who are current or potential customers
- We want readers who are current or potential donors or partners
- We want readers who are current or potential clients
This is a good start, but the more specific your answers, the better your results. And it’s a process, you want to drill down with your answer because the more specific your focus, the more efficient your content creation efforts. Here’s how I would drill down if I were deciding exactly who I wanted to reach with my blog in 2016:
Q – Who is your desired audience?
A – Potential clients.
Q – Potential clients for what service(s)?
A – Potential clients for my speaking and consulting services, as well as companies looking for sponsorship opportunities.
Q – Which area; speaking, consulting or sponsorships is most important to you?
A – Hmmmm…probably speaking first, consulting close behind, then sponsorships.
Q – So it looks like potential clients for speaking and consulting are where you want to devote most of your energy. Will you be focused on speaking on the same areas where you would like to consult?
A – For the most part, yes. I want to speak on topics related to brand advocacy, customer engagement, and helping companies create more customer-centric content and marketing. These are also the same areas where I want to focus my consulting.
Notice how just by asking a couple of more specific questions that I’m already narrowing down my focus a bit. At first I was just thinking about wanting readers who are potential clients, now I know I need to focus more on potential clients who need speakers and consulting services, moreso than sponsorship opportunities. Additionally, I know that I typically will be speaking on the same topics that I want to consult on, so there’s a lot of overlapping there. This is already helping me better define my blogging focus in 2016.
A Hypothetical Example of How This Could Work For Your Company
Let’s do this exercise for you. Let’s say you blog for a company that sells website security services. You charge customers a monthly fee to manage their basic website security. You’ve noticed that customers will typically contact you when they have an existing issue with their website (it’s been hacked, there’s a malware issue, etc), and they will continue to buy your services for 2-3 months after the problem has been solved, then they will typically stop buying and won’t contact you again until there’s another issue that they need help with. So there seems to be a lot of churn starting at the 3-4 month mark, so one of the focus points for the entire company is trying to reduce that churn rate and increase the time that customers stay on. Let’s go through the same Q&A process for this example company:
Q – Who is your desired audience?
A – Current and potential customers.
Q – Which one is more important to you in 2016?
A – Well we need both, but a business focus in 2016 will be ensuring that current customers stay with us for a longer period of time.
Q – What would typically be reasons why customers would leave?
A – Typically, companies will contact us when they’ve encountered a security issue with their website that requires immediate attention. They will sign up for our service and then after we’ve fixed the issue, they will typically stay with us for a few months and if the issue doesn’t flare up again, often they will discontinue the service and only come back if something else happens in the future.
With just 3 questions, we now have a much clearer sense of the direction of our content in 2016. We know we need to focus more on connecting with current customers and giving them a reason to stay with us longer. This helps drive our content strategy for 2016, and gives us an idea of the types of content we need to create, such as:
- Blog posts that talk about how customers do more business with companies that have a secure website.
- Blog posts that talk about the potential damage to a brand’s reputation if their website is repeatedly down due to poor website security.
Blog posts such as this help make the case to current customers that it’s better for their business to stay with your company and let them continue to handle their website security. By taking a few minutes to think through your content goals for 2016, it not only helps you better connect with your exact target audience, but it means you will spend less time on your content and that it will be more efficient.