How to Discover What Really Matters to Your Audience

How to discover what really matters to your audience

If there is one thing you can do to understand your audience, to come up with topics that they really care about, it’s to talk to them.

I used to shy away from talking to people in my audience. I thought that they wouldn’t want to talk to me. I worried about bothering them.

I knew that I needed to get more feedback from other people, so last March, I decided to interview 101 people about building business relationships. So far, I’ve interviewed 30 people, and learned a ton from each and every one of them.

I also learned that interviewing people isn’t all that scary.

In fact, it provides a perfect opportunity to connect and discover new ideas.

You don’t have to talk to 100 people, or even 30. 5 honest conversations can make a big impact.

It can help you think of blog articles to write about, about how to communicate so that people really “get” what you’re offering, and about how to help people with what they need the most.

And here’s how to make it happen.

1. Find people to talk to.

This was the part that scared me the most at first, but it’s actually really easy. And it has the added benefit of making “networking” easier, because instead of asking people for a coffee date, which may make them worry you want to sell them something, you can tell them you want to interview them to help you with your blog.

Here are a few places to find them:

  1. In your circle of friends.

You probably already know a few people who are interested in what you blog about. Even your good friends…especially your good friends are perfect people to interview.

  1. In person gatherings.

These can be Meetup groups, conferences, even potluck dinners.

If someone mentions that they enjoy reading your blog, or even blogs on similar topics to yours, or if they bring up something that fits into what you write about, they will probably be a good person to interview.

  1. Facebook groups

I am seriously addicted to Facebook groups. I can spend my entire day on them. And it’s so easy to find and join groups where your potential audience members hang out.

Join a Facebook group or 2, hang out in them, ask questions, give feedback, share people’s blog posts. And then, pick a few people whom you think would be up for an interview.

  1. Twitter

If you are using Twitter correctly, you are having conversations with people and getting to know them. If not, start. Comment on people’s tweets. Start dialogues. You will probably run into a few people you really like. They will make great interviewees.

  1. Your email list

If people are on your list, you can assume they are audience members, and would make great interviewees.

2. Invite them to interview with you.

You can do this one of 2 ways:

  1. Approach it as a way for you to gather information from them.
  2. Present it as a free consulting session that you are offering them.

Here’s what worked for me (and what I wish I would have done in addition):

  1. I messaged specific people, told them about my project, and asked them if they would be willing to chat with me for 30 minutes. (I also posted a general request in a Facebook group. I got about 4 people from that as well.)
  2. I scheduled a meeting with them over email.
  3. I followed up with them the day before the interview to make sure they were still up for talking.
  4. I gave them specific questions to think about beforehand
  5. I let them know that I would be calling them, and got their phone number/Skype name.

3. Do the interview.

A few things to consider during the interview:

Record it.

I used Skype to call my interviewees’ phones, and then recorded the conversation on my Mac using either Evernote or Quicktime. You can also use an app to record phone conversations on your phone, but it’s a little bit more cumbersome.

Let the conversation flow.

Some people probably use the same questions every time. I found that it was more natural and organic to have specific questions in mind but to let the conversation go where it needed to go. Everyone had unique insights to offer, and I let those insights guide our conversation.

Take minimal notes.

My sweet spot was taking notes, but not too many notes. That way, after the conversation, I remembered the bigger points, and during the conversation, I could really focus and listen.

4. Spend some time reflecting on the interviews and writing down the main take-aways.

I published all of my conversations online, so I transcribed them to try to include all of the great insights.

If you are doing interviews to better understand your audience, and don’t plan on publishing them, you can probably listen to them again and just write down blog post ideas as you listen.

You can also create a chart with the main topics that come up, and add in tally marks for each interview that hits on the same points. That way you’ll know which topics are relevant to the most people.

5. Follow up and thank your interviewees.

Send them a thank you email, a list of next steps for whatever you coached them on, a personal handwritten note, a gift card, or anything else you think would be appropriate.

6. Write the blog posts and share them with your interviewees.

If your interviewees inspired a blog post or 2, don’t be afraid to share the posts with them. They will probably be more than happy to read your insights, because you are responding to topics that came up in your conversations.

A final note:

You don’t have to interview a lot of people to get great material for your blog. If you feel stuck on topic ideas, just one conversation can spark ideas for a month of blog posts.

Try it out. You’ll be surprised at how powerful a simple conversation can be.

  • Thanks so much for this great info. I just started up a blog, and I bookmark every post I come across like this. This is excellent info.

  • blm03

    Another great place to look for blog topics is what’s trending on google. It’ll drive search engine traffic and its does get the brain thinking.

  • I loved this article! People can be so scared to ask others what they are looking for, when it’s so simple and benefits everyone! Fantastic tips!

  • Interviewing someone sounds like a great idea. t could be a fun project for both the interviewer and interviewee.

  • Wow! This is such an excellent and helpful post! Bookmarking this for. Thanks so much!

  • How true! The best way to find out what your audience likes is to communicate with them. This can be extremely helpful when it comes to blogging. 🙂

  • I’ve found and made friends with a lot of interesting peeps via Facebook groups. That’s something that I would recommend as well. Facebook Groups work because you’re able to find people who share the interest and because of this, you are guaranteed not just support from them but a lot of insights as well. I have yet to try doing the interview – hopefully this year.

  • This is so helpful to me right now! I really want to write for my audience, but it’s so hard to think of what they’d like to hear!

  • Beth

    Always important to know what your audience likes or dislikes! Gotta keep them reading 🙂

  • Kori

    This is a really helpful article. I tend to check my google analytics to see what does best in terms of posts and then go from there.

  • I did a survey at the beginning of the year! I offered up a few prizes for participation and I got CRAZY honest feedback! People love to talk when you let them.

  • ashleigh walls

    What a great idea. My college class had us do interviews with 5 people to learn about a topic we wanted to, it’s really not that bad to interview people and you learn a lot.

  • Sharon Ulery Ruggieri

    That’s excellent! I did something similar a few years ago but since my blog doesn’t fit in any real category, all I got out of it was they wanted me to just keep doing what I’m doing…if i had a specific niche I’d want to do what you did again

  • JulieJordanScott2

    Such great ideas – valuable and clearly stated. Glad to find you this morning!