Content needs to speak the same language as the people reading it. Generic content, content that doesn’t touch on the specific needs or concerns of your audience, and content that glosses over major concerns that your audience might have, just doesn’t work.

What does work is carefully researched content that a prospect will read as written directly for them.

But how do you create that kind of content – how do you get so far into the head of your prospects that they think you’re writing to them and them only?

Here are five tips from a top digital strategist to help master and emulate how your target prospects talk about their problems and engage them through content.

  • Spend Time Where They Spend Time – Go to the websites, forums, groups, and other online places that these individuals spend time. LinkedIn groups are especially effective to evaluate the types of conversations that are held professionally. Don’t necessarily restrict this to online either. Meetup groups, mixers, and conferences are equally effective for this type of research.
  • Subscribe to their Blogs and Social Profiles– Select a small group of people who are representative of the target audience you are trying to reach. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other platforms on which they regularly post. Check their blog, interact with them through comments and direct messages. Get to know their voice and their concerns in the way they naturally communicate.
  • Ask Your Existing Customers – Go to the people you already know. This is your richest pool of potential data; people who have had the problems you solve and that you have already worked with. Ask your sales team to provide answers to common questions you are preparing in advance of your marketing campaign or to share the common questions that their prospects ask.
  • Interview or Survey Target Demographics – Create a blind survey and ask those very same questions to people who you haven’t previously interacted with so you can avoid the bias that comes with it. This will cost money if you don’t have a list of people already that you can send it to, but for 200-300 answers, it’s well worth the investment to learn more about the common concerns and questions they have. Make sure each question is open ended to encourage written answers.
  • Test Different Types of Content with What You Learn – Finally, don’t be afraid to test different types of content and ask for feedback. Write content, produce videos, and post to social media based on what you learn, and then take that content to people you know in your target audience and ask them for feedback. Ask them to provide thoughts and questions about the content you wrote and elaborate on what might need to be changed or added.

It can seem time consuming, and at times redundant to do this kind of research, especially if you’ve been in the industry for some time. But the extra time spent will be well worth it when you understand on a much more direct basis what people need and how they describe those needs.

The next step is to create that content and start promoting it. Learn how to ensure your site is ready for the spike in inbound marketing activity you’re about to begin with our Marketing Ready checklist.