How to Build an Audience – Part 1

Published by Bret Kinsella on

Yesterday’s post focused on the value of building an audience and some methods for utilizing it once established. Today, we want to focus on what you need to build an audience. Let’s start with the five W’s and one H.

  • Who – the types of people you would like to attract
  • Why – something to say that your target audience will care about
  • What – content to attract and sustain your audience
  • Where – how people will access your content
  • When – in what frequency and timing
  • How – what infrastructure will help you track the audience size, engagement and interests

Who Do You Want to Reach?

target-audienceThere are a lot of people in the world. Not all of them are relevant to your business. If you build a large audience of people that are neither qualified prospects nor influencers of those target customers you don’t have anything of value. The starting point is to determine who you want your audience to be.

Yesterday, we pointed out that you want to build an audience of target prospective buyers, people that can directly influence those target prospective buyers or people that can help you shape an industry narrative favorable to your positioning. To define these audience members more clearly you should develop what marketers call personas. These describe the type of people you want to engage with in terms of their professional role, background, preferences, biases and objectives. You need to do this for each of the three types of audience members. This will likely inform the type of content you will produce, but more importantly can help you determine the best way to present your key messages.

Why Should They Care?

b2b-marketingYou will only attract and retain an audience if they care about the topics you are discussing and the perceive the value you are delivering. You should start with a point of view and then translate it for your audience into a point of value. A point of view is what you think. A point of value is something that is meaningful to your audience members. Audience members will have different points of value that resonate. Your personas will help you determine what type of information appeals most to each group.

For B2B marketers this typically translates into education. Can you help your audience by providing information that they don’t have today or a better understanding of a complex situation they face regularly? This will draw people into your audience and keep them there. Some of these topics will only relate to your core business indirectly, but are important to your audience; others will be directly applicable. Offering a steady diet of useful information to your audience makes people more receptive to the occasional discussion of your product. It also changes the way they think about you. Do you want to be known as someone to be avoided because you are only pitching your product and talking about things that provide value to you? The alternative is to be trusted for providing value and open to learning more about your products and services that can provide value to them as well.

Knowing Your Audience

These first two steps are about knowing the audience you want to build. Too often marketers start producing content without thoughtfully considering their target audience and objectives. Answer the Who and Why questions first to make sure you are heading in the right direction. Tomorrow we will go into the tactics of What and Where, followed by When and How.


Bret Kinsella

Bret Kinsella founded Act with Edge to help tech companies build growth engines based on their own audience, inbound content marketing and premium brand positioning.