If there’s one thing this world needs less of, it’s marketing jargon.
I make an exception for “audience first,” though. It’s one of the rare grandiose marketing terms that actually captures a semblance of sensibility—and it can act as a thought-provoking catalyst in your everyday work. An audience-first approach allows you to be both more creative and more targeted, which are two ways to differentiate yourself from the noise of mass content marketing.
But for audience first to mean something, we need to start with a definition.
What is audience first?
"Audience first" is the always-on approach of leveraging first- and third-party audience insights, metrics and KPIs to develop and distribute content that meets the evolving needs of both new and existing target audiences.
When you look at it like this, your audience is no longer just a result of your efforts—they’re active contributors. They are the defining element that shapes how and what you do. They grow alongside you. This approach is truly about audience development and sustainment.
As content marketers, obtaining an audience too often happens after content development. If you’re conceptualizing distribution efforts after the content is created, you’re already too late.
Instead, operate as an audience-first content marketer. Bring data and insights into the mix at the initial stage of a content program. Focus on whom you’re creating content for, where they prefer to consume content, the formats that will resonate with them and customized messages to spark content engagement.
Put simply, don’t wait to invite your digital marketing or distribution expert to a quick meeting after your creative work is done. Make them part of the team in the first place, and audience-first content creation becomes a virtuous cycle.