By Guest Blogger Carley Roney, Co-Founder & Editor In Chief of The Knot, Inc.
Whether you’re a writer, an entrepreneur or a little of both, we’re all in the business of speaking to people. From books to blogs, you have to know your audience. I started TheKnot.com in 1997 because we saw a market that needed a voice—the wedding industry. At the time the bridal world was outdated, cluttered and chaotic. Bridal magazines hadn’t changed in 20 years and weren’t in touch with modern brides. My husband David (who cofounded The Knot Inc with me) and I had felt this when we planned our wedding in 1993: There were no central resources and no etiquette for modern couples who were dealing with divorced parents, multicultural weddings or how to pay for a wedding themselves.
We built TheKnot.com with the key component being community message boards. Brides could come together to ask advice, bounce around ideas or simply bitch about their future mother-in-laws. We made it a habit from the beginning to listen to our customers and provide content that they needed. In 2000 we took to print with the launch of The Knot Weddings Magazine, which feature real wedding photos and hot topics that matter to our audience. Today along with the quarterly national magazine, we produce 17 semiannual local editions of The Knot and have published 13 wedding books, all with the focus entirely on the bride.
After seeing the success of this extremely special and passionate audience, we saw the natural comparison to that of first-time moms. Moms are desperate for up-to-date, real and reliable advice, and given the response we’d seen to our bridal audience, we knew this group was the natural next step for our business. There were some great baby websites already out there, but I felt that no one was really speaking to them in their language. With TheBump.com we broke down the complicated medical language and answered their questions as a friend. Since we also knew our audience was an upscale group of women who went to the best OB/GYN offices and shopped in the chicest baby stores, we started distributing local guides to those places in 18 different cities, and even just released our first pregnancy book The Baby Bump. (We also have a newlyweds and young-couples brand, The Nest, which took its site TheNest.com and parlayed it into a quarterly national magazine and two books over the years.)
Trust me; winning in print is tough. The market is narrow, competitive and increasingly difficult to sell. But our brands have thrived thanks to a basic understanding of our readers, which began with discussions online. Listen, listen, listen. Empathize with their needs, earn their trust and speak to them how they want to be spoken to. The relationship between author and reader is delicate, but if cultivated properly, the opportunities for your message are endless.