Content marketing, although not a new type of marketing by any means, has become a hot topic in recent years. That said, content marketing is still marketing, so it’s important to follow the most important first step before developing a strategy and executing.

The first step is none other than identifying your target market and your target audience.

Although obvious to professional marketers, in my experience, identifying a target market and audience is often overlooked, underrated or flat-out ignored. It’s also a misunderstanding that the target market is the same as the target audience, and that’s simply not the case.

The target market is the segment of customers/clients that a company/brand intends to target. It’s the group, the collection, the market. The target audience is more defined, reaching to a generalization of the individuals within the market, the demographics, psychographics and more.

Identifying the target market and audience should come before the audience persona or the content mission statement. The audience persona is simply a portrayal of the desires, wants and needs of the target audience. The content mission statement connects the goals and objectives of the company/brand to the audience persona. Clearly, it’s difficult to understand audience persona without knowing who the audience is to begin with. It’s also difficult to know who the audience is without knowing what the market is.

Given that content marketing is a long-term, dynamic form of marketing, missing the mark from the beginning can be chaotic, problematic and devastating. This is not a step to skip, skim or ignore. It’s definitely not fair to the client as it wastes money and time, but even more damaging to the customer/client, since they will not receive relevant, useful information.

What do you think is most important when identifying a target market and audience?