The internet has too much noise. Many people are in the bandwagon to creating content for their online business, but in most situations, creating content means hashing out hundreds of original articles that barely have an audience.

More articles, more people, more companies. Noise. The English arena of the internet is now saturated, and it’s harder to gain the traction needed to hit traffic and conversion goals.

It’s more important than ever to define a content marketing strategy for your online business before creating content. And even before you start typing away, you need a strategy and a plan of action.

The content strategy process begins with defining the ideal audience. The ideal audience is the perfect readers (or buyers) of the product. They’re the people with the most need and benefit from having the x,y,z product.

What is an ideal audience?

An ideal audience (or a Buyer’s Persona) is a semi-fictional representation of an ideal customer based on market research and real data from existing customers. Read more about what it is and how to create one.

By defining the ideal audience and creating a buyer persona, the individual creating content is more likely to produce copy that is directly linked to the needs and challenges of the buying customer. Identifying and speaking via content to these individuals builds trust and authority with them.

In the B2B world, many customers are not ready to buy the product at first glance. The product is usually a large investment, and they’re shopping the internet for the best solution. As content creators, we aim to identify these unique challenges and write about it. If we’re consistent in our execution, we build authority and trust with these individuals until the moment is right for them to buy.

How to befriend them?

Befriending the ideal audience is a process I call intelligence gathering. You gather intel on your ideal audience member through various mediums. I talk more in detail about the recommended methods and questions to ask the audience in this webinar.

A big mistake I often see, content creators never talk to humans. They create the survey. They research the demographics in marketing industry reports, and they view the statistics on social media dashboards.

All of these methods are effective  — except for one reason.

Talk to humans

They’re not talking to human beings. The content we create should be made for humans. It should be useful and personable. It should be human-centric. How can we become more personable?

We talk to them, identify their challenges, and write content to meet expectations.

Talking to humans is the most effective method in the intelligence gathering process. It puts the content creator in check with the rhythm of the customer; thinking like them and creating for them.

How can you talk to them in person? The process is no different than building a relationship with a best friend. The process is similar, and it should follow suit.

For example, the individual begins interacting with the company on Twitter. You ask questions, give good feedback, and keep the conversation educational. After a conversation is established, ask if they can answer one question about their buying journey. After a few positive interactions, they are more likely to be receptive to this. The question is asked online or through a survey.

Once a collection of survey answers are collected, invite these people to individual short and to-the-point phone interviews. After the phone interview, ask a select group to come to the office or go out to lunch to become even more personal.

The process is not a quick thirty days. It’s a lengthy process and ongoing. You need to be diligent in building a trusting relationship with your audience until they reach the point of wanting to give good feedback — and actually, want to make the leap to meet in the person.

If you remain genuine, you’ll be surprised how much people are willing to speak, if you’re willing to listen. Them speaking openly gives you the intel needed to create more authentic and useful content.