How to Apply “Audience Focus” to Every Piece of Content You Create – A Gourmet Case Study

I help run video food show called GrubTribe.

The project constantly kicks out little teachable gems about content development.

We have a problem related to audience. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good problem to have given the advertising and promotion opportunities that are in front of us. But it has a strong impact on how we approach our content strategy.

One audience includes the pure food enthusiast – the kind of person who looks forward to discovering new restaurants, and who obsesses over ingredients and preparations.

The other audience includes chefs, restaurateurs and other food industry providers (think organic growers – the link here is to an interview we did with a guy who uses tilapia, vertical farms and aquaponics to grow vegetables).

I’ll show you our problem by providing an example from a recent shoot.

We just interviewed a Long Beach chef who did a great job describing the dining experience at his restaurant. He went down a rabbit hole at one point, however.

When we asked him about the experience in the kitchen, we were expecting to get some stories about technique and discipline – the kinds of things that go into preparing magnificent meals. This is the type of thing that appeals to our food enthusiast audience.

Instead, he talked about how brutal it is inside the kitchen on some nights. Things are crazy, there’s real danger, food’s getting overcooked, sauces fall apart, and so on. The more he talked, the more I thought about how I really don’t want to know “how sausage is made.” That might not be the best metaphor, because I literally do want to know how sausage is made.

But you get the point. As a diner, I’m more interested in how the chef and staff are brilliant. And I’m even more interested in my own experience.

So, for that particular audience, we need to edit the video to focus on the dining experience.

The other clips about nights that go horribly wrong can go in the chefs’ section of our site. Chefs like to commiserate and share stories about these things. Diners can certainly look at those videos and learn about how challenging the restaurant industry is, but I don’t want to put bummer experiences right in front of them when they’re making decisions about where to eat on a Friday night.

If our show becomes about how difficult it is to be a chef and how under-appreciated their efforts are, then we risk alienating the serious diner who expects a certain level of professionalism with his meal. There’s some value to keeping the difficulty of the job separate from product outcome. French waiters are famous for their discipline (and separation from the diner) in this respect – read more from the recent WSJ article on that subject.

This idea is critical for all kinds of content development.    

If you’re a dentist, you don’t want to tell stories about root canals that went wrong. If you’re a mortgage broker, you probably don’t re-tell stories about your clients who lost their houses. If you’re a baseball player, you don’t want to bore fans about how many push-ups you do. You want to show them technique but showcase home runs. Fans can quickly become resentful when their $50 ticket to the game and $8 hot dog reminds them of the spiteful player who makes $10 million a year and complains about his workouts.

The key take-away here? Learn to apply audience focus to every piece of content you create. It’s important. Separate different content for different audiences, and be careful about mashing things up without considering audience motivations.

AN AFTERTHOUGHT. I had an idea about transparency. What if you went to a restaurant, they f’d up your order, you complained about the slow service, and then something totally unique occurred? What if the chef brought out the mistake meal and let you see what was wrong with it? Then he follows up with the correctly prepared food. That would be a really unique dining experience. He could mention that “sometimes we make mistakes” and give some further insights about food prep. It would take a few extra minutes. But it would be an impactful experience for the diner!