I’m always being asked how to get more people interested in a business
(usually by people with little or no marketing budget).
My answer is to build an audience of people who like you and what you do.
What’s the difference between an audience and a market?
Your audience may not be the people who buy from you but they’ll like you enough to share it with their network in the belief that some of them might be interested in buying from you.
Lots of people are nice like that. They like to be useful.
Why not go straight for the market?
Because PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE TO BE SOLD TO.
In a world where everyone goes out of their way to avoid unwanted marketing messages and adverts, getting through to your target market without a huge budget or exceptionally inventive strategies is tough.
Increasingly, getting recommended by someone who is trusted by their network is the best way to get noticed. This is why big brands pay for celebrity endorsements and why people on social networks with huge numbers of followers are awarded “influencer” status.
Ways to build an audience
Your website should be the hub, the place you draw people in, where you can collect information about what they’re interested in and make it easy for them to keep in touch with you.
You need a clear call to action so that when people land on a page they don’t leave without doing something that helps to build a relationship. This should be the simplest, most effortless action you can think of, e.g. signing up to get future blog posts or news.
The most valuable resource in any business is your own, home grown, mailing list of people who have opted in, asked to be included, said they’re interested, bought from you, given you their details and otherwise given you PERMISSION to contact them.
All of your activities to grow an audience should result in you growing your permission based mailing list. One of the main reasons for this is that targeted, personalised, email marketing is still the most effective way to get sales.
Build RELATIONSHIPS not NUMBERS
Most human beings are capable of maintaining a stable social relationship with approx 150 people (see Dunbar’s Number). This means that every one of us has access to 150 x 150 people just by using our own extended network. The trick is to get the people you know to be prepared to introduce you or recommend you to the people they know.
What you’re doing by building your audience is gathering “relationship intelligence”. These activities won’t lead to sales tomorrow. There are no short cuts. Great selling is not an event, it is a process. Integrating the relationship building into your selling activities is something you need do every day – consistently – to achieve results.
Several studies have shown that even the most incidental of similarities between a buyer and a seller can contribute to the purchasing experience – even though it’s not rational. A birthday, where you went to school, a similar taste in music, or other random factors all increase the chances of a sale. This is why you need to build relationship intelligence.
What does that mean in practice?
Blogging combined with social networking is the single most effective way I know of building an audience.
Connect with the people you already know on social networks. I mean really connect. Talk to them. Have conversations. Let them know you’re interested in them, not just try and get them interested in you.
If they’re on more than one network, connect with them wherever they are. People behave differently on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
If they create content that your audience might be interested in, share it. This can’t be a one way relationship!
Experiment with blogging until you find the style that works best for your audience.
Make it easy for people to sign up to your blog in a way that gets you their email address.
Make your posts evergreen (not tied to a particular event or date) and re-circulate them regularly. My posts from over ten years are always finding new audiences.
When anyone engages with you, talk to them. The more you find out about them the stronger the relationship you’ll build.
Be as useful to your audience as you’d like them to be for you.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Show up for your network every day.
Yes, it takes time but the alternative is to spend a lot of money and that’s not always the most effective way!
If you’ve got any questions about how to build an audience for your business, let me know!