How to drive audience loyalty through content marketing

There is a relatively simple formula to drive audience loyalty and it is this:

  1. Learn your audience’s problems. 
  2. Solve one or more of their problems through your content. 
  3. Keep solving their problems with more content. 
  4. Remind them you’re solving their problems through a direct messaging channel.

While the formula is simple, doing each step right is not. Below we break it down: 

STEP #1: LEARN YOUR AUDIENCE’S PROBLEMS

Audience problems are funny things, because they often present very transactionally but are significantly more emotional and nuanced than you imagine them to be. The problems exist in a context — a moment in time — and so identifying the problem is just as important as identifying the moment. 

We’ve most successfully used Clayton Christensen’s Jobs to be Done (JTBD) theory to uncover problems in context. Recently we worked on a project to understand researcher problems as they prepare to submit to scientific journals. While we uncovered several problems that could be addressed with content, the context of the problem — the anxious frenzy of finding reputable short-form instructional information — pushed us toward a more specific type of content topics and format. 

Uncovering an audience’s emotional state and frustration with lack of progress creates the foundation for the rest of the formula.

STEP #2: SOLVE ONE OR MORE OF THEIR PROBLEMS THROUGH YOUR CONTENT

The next step is obvious: Pick a problem and solve it.

Notably, we’re not suggesting you solve all the problems you uncover. That would be impossible. Instead, pick the problem you think your brand is best equipped to solve — the one that you are experts in, and the one that would be meaningful to your own business goals — and focus there. 

At this point, researching how competitors have tried to solve the problem is important. You want to learn from any missteps and present a unique solution to your audience. You can’t drive loyalty if you’re replicating something that’s already created. To win ongoing attention and engagement, your solution to their problem needs to uniquely succeed where others have failed. 

STEP #3: KEEP SOLVING THEIR PROBLEMS WITH MORE CONTENT

At this stage it’s not just about being unique. It’s about being predictable. 

The biggest challenge to companies at this step is consistency. If you’ve identified the problem and its context and started to solve it for an audience, you’re showing early signs of success. That’s when the off-strategy requests start rolling in. That’s when things start to tilt away from solving audience problems and toward solving your brand’s problems. 

This stage is about discipline to your core service to readers. We recommend creating content franchises — flexible frameworks to ensure you’re staying on track. 

 

STEP #4: REMIND THEM YOU’RE SOLVING THEIR PROBLEMS THROUGH A DIRECT MESSAGING CHANNEL

This is the most overlooked and arguably most important step. 

To drive loyalty, you need to use your content to earn a longer-term relationship with your audience. This means developing, promoting and growing some type of “capture” vehicle: An email list, a social follow, etc. Something that gives you permission to directly connect with that person over time. 

Once you have an amassed audience, then step #3 starts to snowball: You keep solving problems. Your audience keeps coming back. They grow to depend on you. They look forward to your insights. They realize something is missing when you don’t post. They let you know when you do something that is off-brand or angers them. They comment and share. 

This is loyalty. R 

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