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Here’s why it can make sense to build your brand’s audience before developing the content

Building a brand

We often queue up behind ourselves in the search to find, curate and create content that appeals to our audience. Personally I think we should do this the other way around.

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When I was at varsity, digital was almost nonexistent, and we were taught that as marketers we would be given a brief, with a specified target market and audience, and then we had to come up with a strategy to suit and appeal to them.

This past year, I’ve come to realise we should be doing things a little differently: instead of creating content to appeal to a specific audience, you should be building a specific audience to appeal to your content.

Create your audience

If you want to be successful, you need to cultivate an audience with common interests and passions and evolve to appeal to them. There’s a certain beauty in listening, and slowly, softly, creating a space where the content becomes tailored around what the audience wants to hear or read.

Instead of starting with the target audience and trying to produce content that they would like, start by creating content that you like and then begin listening to see what resonates with your audience.

Once you have an audience, you can start creating more and more content that they want to engage with. And naturally, organically, your audience will grow.

Create their content

Listen carefully and you’ll be able to discover what makes your audience tick and then start creating more and more content around those topics and areas that are performing well. Traditionally we seek the right audience to suit our brand. Why not create the right brand to suit the audience?

As your audience grows so will the amount of content you put out. Ideally it will also be constantly changing. Perhaps it will feel or came across as a little schizophrenic at times, but if you listen to what the audience wants and then you’ll gradually become a valuable source of that information.

By understanding your audience, and who you are talking to, you’ll be able to uncover what matters to them. What excites and engages them. In essence, you’ll be cultivating and crafted the brand to suit the audience you’ve created.

Creating the best possible fit

Matching your brand to people isn’t just luck. It’s a lot of hard work and strategic thinking. Although this concept may not seem all that different, starting with finding the right audience and getting to know them before defining your brand and content strategy can be a real eye opener.

Through listening we are able to understand what people want to hear what they are interested in, and then develop our brands so that they deliver on these expectations. This is one of the reasons that I feel ORM is so important, as this allows us to listen on greater scale and take the data and insight gained, and turn it into a brand growth strategy.

Don’t get me wrong, your brand still needs to have a distinct personality and sense of purpose but like people, your brand needs to constantly change and adapt. And the only way to know where your next turn needs to be is by listening to where your audience is going and the path they’re taking. And going with it.

Coke did it. So can you

Many of you will argue that change and adaptability is much easier for small brands than larger ones. Not necessarily. Coke, one of the biggest global brands, is a case in point.

The Share a Coke campaign is a beautiful example of a brand listening to their audience and changing and adapting to what resonates with them.

Coke created an audience that was all about sharing

Coke realised that its audience is about sharing. Sharing content. Conversations. Experiences. Everything. And so, it came up with a way to integrate the brand into the sharing of all of these things.

By following the concept of Social By Design it made the brand personal and relatable to the audience. And how did they do this? By listening, understanding and adapting to what its audience wanted.

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