Keeping Your Audience in the Mix

Bridget Willard

You have to be audience centric when you create content if you want it to be received well and consumed. So, what does a salad have to do with content marketing?

There’s a picnic tomorrow that’s potluck style. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to bring. I thought about pasta salad which is generally my go-to or even potato salad. So I looked at the collective list. Potato salad is already assigned.  People are already bringing chips. I don’t like to bring the main dish.

So, I decided to walk around Smart & Final and get some inspiration.

I did.

Who is coming to this potluck?

If it were a bunch of junk food junkies, I could have brought cakes or pies. Right? But I think our crowd tends to be healthier, and with allergies, the demographic can lean toward gluten free, etc.

I went through tons of options in my head: cheese plate, veggie tray, wraps. Nothing seemed right.

While walking around Smart & Final with two bars of cell reception, I looked at the list again. Hey — no one is bringing a green salad. That’s almost always a winner!

While preparing, this analogy for a good mix of content that thinks of your audience first came to mind. So here goes.

You need structure.

So, the structure for your content is your blogging medium (your WordPress blog, for example.) This is what is going to contain the salad (mix of content).

Getting this right is important. If your container is too flimsy, it won’t hold the contents. If you want the layers of your salad to be displayed, for example, you need transparency (plastic, glass). If you want to not care about taking the container home, use something temporary or disposable (Medium, LinkedIn Pulse).

You’re picking up on the analogy right about now, right?

Cabbage, carrots, and broccoli.
Cabbage, carrots, and broccoli.

You need substance.

In cooking there are so many aspects of the dish that are important. You have to consider flavors, textures, color — and nutrition.

A salad is primarily comprised of vegetables. You can go crazy and add seeds, cheese, fruit, and herbs, but it still needs that basic structure. For our analogy, I’d say this is the nutrition – the part of your content strategy that is going to teach and add value to the consumer.

So cabbage, carrots, and broccoli aren’t the sexiest of the salad bar, but they deliver crunch and vitamins.

You can have a nice looking salad but if is only a vehicle for croutons and a heavy-calorie dressing, you may as well eat a cheeseburger. Am I right?

You need variety.

How many dinner salads have you eaten at restaurants that are just iceberg lettuce, two shreds of carrots,  and four croutons all drowning in ranch? It gets old. Hey. I’m a big fan of iceberg myself, because I like the crunch, but crunch can be delivered in other ways.

You need that element of surprise in your salad. It used to be pumpkin seeds or granny smith apples. These days, strawberries seem to be the thing.

For content marketing to resonate with your audience, you need to be aware of the trends in your area. What are the strawberries in your industry?

You need balance.

So, you don’t want to add too many of the same kind of thing in your salad. You need crunchy and soft, sweet and tart.

If you add strawberries for variety and mushrooms for protein, you pretty much have “soft” covered — especially with feta. So don’t go crazy and add mozzarella and roasted summer squash.

It’s the same with your content. It’s fine to publish a few listicles, but they shouldn’t all be that. Yes? Okay good. We agree.

layer-salad-color-texture

You need color.

In your content marketing, just like in cooking, color counts. This is the creative. What colors will strike a balance? If I use strawberries, I need something to balance it out against the green of spinach — mushrooms. Tomatoes could have been a choice, but then you have competing reds. I could have used cheddar cheese but then it’s red, green, and orange and I already have carrots — too much orange is bad. You see?

Ensure your content has striking images that entice the reader. Content that is never consumed is pretty worthless. And nothing is as worthless as a soggy salad.

Delivery and Timing Count

In this case, I prepared the salad about 14 hours in advance — like scheduling a blog post. If I toss it, things could get soggy — fast. This is also why it’s not dressed.

So, if your content is timely, publish immediately. But if you plan to write things ahead, make sure they’re evergreen — or still viable at the time of consumption.

This is why I layered my salad with the heartiest on the bottom (cabbage, carrots, broccoli). Mushrooms and strawberries are delicate and so is spinach. They are layered to protect their integrity.

How do you strategize over content?

I’d love to hear how you decide what type of mix appears in your blog. Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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