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K-W-L: 3 Things Content Marketers Need to Know About Their Prospects

Posted on 28th May, by Jennifer in Content Marketing. No Comments

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Amy Harrison recently gave us 5 Things Every Copywriter Needs to Know About Their Prospects based on Lagos Egri’s 1946 book, The Art of Dramatic Writing. She casts prospects as protagonists in their own stories, and challenges content marketers to mine their prospects’ past experiences, present conflict or need, and possible actions.

Approaching content marketing from an educational standpoint, I often modify a favorite teaching strategy called K-W-L: Know, Want to Know, and Learned. I’d draw three columns on the board or have the students do so in their journals and together fill in what they already knew (or thought they knew) and what they wanted to know about a particular topic. After the lesson or unit, we’d return to the chart and fill in what we learned, sometimes making changes to the original Know column.


When it comes to content creation, I ask myself 3 questions:

  • What do my prospects know?
  • What do my prospects want to know?
  • What will my prospects learn?

What prospects already know (or think they know) is vital for relevant digital content marketing. In teaching we refer to this as prior knowledge. You don’t want to sound condescending (or worse, irrelevant) by writing constantly about basic information they already know, but you also need to address misconceptions that may prevent prospects from purchasing your product, using your service, or even staying on your website. This can and should be done through writing and visuals. Is your service perceived as expensive and only for the privileged? Explain the true value of a job well done and be clear about everything that’s included in your best package. Is your product considered obscure or niche? Show a diversity of happy customers and how your business can tailor to different needs. Make sure your website looks fresh and well-trafficked. Can’t blog as often as you’d like? Consider removing dates on posts or including a Twitter feed of more frequent updates and stop telling people your blog sucks.

What prospects want to know should be the focus your digital content marketing efforts. This is your chance to teach them something new, which is what inbound marketing is all about. Knowing what prospects want to know will help you create content that captures their attention, nurtures their interest, and converts prospects to clients who come back for more. How do you know what they want to know? Ask for questions and comments on your blog posts. Review the inquiries from your contact form. (You do have one, right?) Follow others in your field and riff off popular discussion topics, with a link back to the original post or hashtag, of course. Keep up with the latest developments in your field, or even preview what’s on the horizon if you’re in a position to do so.

What your prospects will learn depends on the composition and sharing of your content. It could be knowledge about your field, interest in your product, or access to your service. This question is an internal check for yourself as the content marketer: does this blog post, eBook, white paper, newsletter, infographic, or Tweet address what my prospects want to know? Unlike the L in a traditional K-W-L chart, this question does not have to come last. In fact, you could start with the end in mind and decide what it is you want your prospects to do as a result of interacting with your content. Then you would double-check that your content lines up with what prospects already know and want to know. Either way, you’ve addressed the three important things to know about your prospects.

What about you? How are you getting inside the heads of your prospects? What works and what do you wish worked better? Leave a comment or question below!


Related posts:

  1. Social Media Strategy: 3 Things to Know Before Diving In
  2. Marketers walk the line between Social Media and Data Privacy

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