By Dianna Huff published August 25, 2010

Make Your Content Do Double Duty When Writing to Multiple Audiences

As a B2B marketer or content creator, your job is to create pieces of original content that address the needs/concerns/challenges of your audience. As you know, however, the B2B sales cycle, which can be quite complex, often includes more than one “audience” type as buying decisions are made by teams of people: the purchaser, the end users, the internal champion, the department head, etc.

So what happens if you’re a small company or department, you have two or more distinct audiences – i.e. techies who want product features and management types who want bottom line benefits – and your budget doesn’t allow you to produce separate content for each audience type?

This is a good question because if your product has multiple decision makers, all of them must understand what your product is and how it will benefit them. The message a CEO wants, however, isn’t the message a Director of IT wants or even cares about.

The following strategies can help you target two or more audiences without breaking the bank:

Corporate Website

Use links on your home page to segment multiple audiences. Dell Computer uses this strategy effectively with links for Home Users, Small and Medium Businesses, Large Enterprises, and Public Institutions, such as Health Care, schools, and the Federal Government.

These links allow site visitors to quickly segment themselves; content within each section addresses the needs of the specific audience.

Once you have segmented content, you can then drive traffic to each section via blog posts/comments, print ads, email offers, and direct mail (to name a few).

White Papers

Instead of creating two separate white papers for each audience type, create a full white paper complete with an executive summary; then, pull out the executive summary and make it a stand-alone piece for executives, VPs, and the like (i.e. people who just want the overview).

The National Association for Gifted Children did just this with its white paper, “The STEM Promise: Recognizing and Developing Talent and Expanding Opportunities for Promising Students of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” Visitors to the landing page can download the two-page executive summary or the 16-page white paper.

If you’re developing content for multiple industries, create one white paper and then repurpose separate versions for each vertical. Sometimes this is a simple as writing new introductions and calls-to-action. Other times you’ll have to repurpose benefits statements based on the vertical.

Print Ads

If you have two or more groups of people you need to reach, it makes sense to produce ads with different messages and run them in niche publications. However, if your budget is tight, or if you’re running an ad in a more general publication, you can do one ad that addresses your various target audiences.

B2B sales lead expert Mac McIntosh recommends that you write ad copy that “states the pain points of each audience:”‘Sales wants this; IT wants that, and Marketing wants something different altogether. How do you make them happy? With one product — the XYZ software app.”

Print Collateral (datasheets, brochures, etc.)

If you work with a mail house or fulfillment company, ask how you can use Print-on-Demand (POD) to help you save money. Since files are stored digitally, it’s very easy and cost effective to change a photo, headline or copy to meet the needs of specific audiences.

A company that banks umbilical cord stem cells used POD to create custom brochures for OB/GYN offices, for example. The brochures featured the names of the doctors as well as contact information (i.e. phone, website, email, etc.). All other copy and design elements remained the same.

Also consider how collateral can do “double duty.” Rather than producing a one-size-fits-all brochure, consider a “generic” shell with pockets for customized inserts. A multi-paneled brochure is another cost-effective solution. You can have separate panels for each audience.

Direct Mail / Email

Instead of doing an expensive four-color mailer for everyone on your list, do a one-page direct mail letter. Although not as sexy as a full-color mailer, the one-page letter, written clearly and simply, and mailed in a #10 envelope generates better response rates. On top of that, it’s much easier to produce three versions of a letter, which is what I did last year for an IT company in California. Each letter featured the same offers and calls-to-action; the openings, however, addressed different pain points.

You can do the same thing with email. Say you have five industries you need to reach and only one offer. The main message stays the same for each email; only the openings and closings change per industry.

E-newsletters

If possible, segment your email list by industry or job function. One company I worked with had eight vertical industries – and produced eight separate e-newsletters every month with links to industry specific news, events, and other pertinent information. The templates all remained the same; only the content changed.

Getting your message across to multiple audiences on a budget isn’t difficult. Look for opportunities for collateral to do “double duty,” consider cost-effective alternatives, and consult design or printing experts for new ideas and integrated solutions.

What other suggestions do you have for creating content to reach multiple audiences?

Author: Dianna Huff

The founder and president of Huff Industrial Marketing, Inc., Dianna Huff creates and implements thoughtful marketing strategies that help small, family-run industrial manufacturers grow and succeed. She's also the co-author, with Rachel Cunliffe of Cre8d Design, of 101 Ways to Market Your Website, a guide for small business owners, consultants, freelancers -- anyone with a website. You can follow Dianna on Twitter @diannahuff.

Other posts by Dianna Huff

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  • http://twitter.com/TimMorawetz Tim Morawetz

    Great thinking Dianna!

    First of all, it's just plain smart to avoid wasting time and money doing needless near-repeats of content.

    Second, following a deliberate strategy for directing specific content at specific 'constituents' (I prefer that term to 'target audiences; see my blog http://thespotatglue.blogspot.com/2010/08/farew…) ensures consistency of the message and ultimately of the brand image and reputation.

    In my business – Glue Inc. http://www.glue-to.com – I use a disciplined process to establish the communications objectives for each constituent, asking what do we need them to UNDERSTAND, BELIEVE and then DO to achieve the business objective. The commonalities that appear among the responses in each of these categories lead you to opportunities for creating synergies by using / repurposing / adapting communications initiatives for multiple constituents!

  • http://www.c-e.com/ chrismoritz

    Great post – love the idea about using the summary of a whitepaper as an audience-specific “version.”

  • http://www.brainrider.com/ Nolin LeChasseur

    This is a great post, and a key concept to understand if you are going to create sufficient content on a reasonable budget. Moreover, multiple content deliverables along the same theme will drive home the key messages to your audience. Your reader is far more likely to digest everything you have to say if you serve it up in bite-size pieces. You may even write a white paper first, but deliver it as the last deliverable after releasing a series of shorter, punchier excerpts in a variety of formats.