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September 17, 2007

Article Marketing 101: Finding Your Audience

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about getting into article marketing. It can’t be that hard, can it? You just need to write up a few articles about your industry and distribute them to the masses, and the masses will come running to your website because they revere you as an expert now, right?

Ahem. If that image is in your head, get it out right now. Article marketing is a very beneficial practice, to be sure, but it’s not something you can just jump into without doing any research first.

Hey! Is anybody out there?

One fatal flaw many articles have is lack of a clear audience; that is, people who are going to be interested in what you’re saying. “An audience?” you might be saying. “Well, that’s easy. My customers are my audience.”

True though that may be, all of your customers do not fall into the same demographic. You’ll need to target your articles differently depending on if you want to talk to men or women, teenagers or parents, businesses or individuals. And you need to find your audience before you start writing your articles.

Correctly targeting your pieces can make the difference between publication and the slush pile. Here are a few tips for finding your audience.

Who do you want to read your articles?

If you say “everybody,” then you might as well just quit now. Yes, everybody wants to be read by the whole world, but the whole world isn’t going to be interested in what you have to say. By saying “everybody,” you’re dooming yourself to failure before you even start writing.

Targeting the entire world will make your piece so generic that nobody will give it the time of day. By targeting a certain audience, you ensure people will immediately identify with your piece, and you’ll make it that much easier to pitch to editors.

Who is your audience for your product and services? (Hopefully you figured that out before you even started business.) Those are the people most likely to be interested in your industry, but you have to be specific with your audience. The more targeted a piece is, the better chance you have of getting published.

What is important to them?

Your audience is more than just age and career brackets. New parents, parents of elementary school-aged kids and parents of teenagers may all be parents, but new parents would be more interested in breastfeeding than parents of teenagers. By recognizing what would be important to them, you’ll be able to get a good angle on your article.

If your product or service reaches across different demographics, then you have to figure out how to apply it to each of them. Your product might be perfect for stay-at-home mothers, churches and fundraising groups, but you’ll need different language and different distribution to speak to each of them. What’s important to one won’t be important to another, which will render your article ineffective.

See what others have to say

Believe it or not, you’re not the first person who’s thought about writing an article targeted to goat ranchers in their early 20s. Find other publications with the same target demographic, and read them to get an idea of writing style, other article topics and even possible distribution outlets. You’d be surprised how many niche publications are out there.

Taking the time to find your audience and target your piece will pay off massive dividends. It’s easier to write a piece that’s targeted, and it’s especially easier to market a piece that’s targeted to a specific audience. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by neglecting this vital step.

Author:  Jessica Cox and Michelle Pierce are graduates of the University of Oklahoma’s College of Journalism with a background in Internet marketing and writing for the Web. They currently provide PR services at Xeal Precision Marketing. Sign up for a free 25-point website evaluation and pick up crucial tips at Xeal’s free Thursday webinar at http://www.xeal.com/webinar.

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