Join us over the next few weeks as we feature our “Business Challenge” posts. Each post will feature tips on how to solve some of the biggest business challenges we all face.
Business Challenge: Building Your Audience
SO many entrepreneurs struggle with building an audience. You’re not sure how to reach them. You don’t know how to get them to trust you and value what you have to offer. Sometimes, you wonder if they are ever going to even visit your website.
But there is some good news here…
…If you’re even trying to build an audience, then that means you’ve actually identified who they are, and you’ve either recently launched – or you’re about to launch – your new business.
Note: If these things aren’t true, then you might want to re-think trying to build an audience.
Okay, so once you’ve identified your audience, and you have a solid platform to support them, then let the building begin!
Here are a couple of tips that will help you start building your audience:
Use Your Platform
You spent time building your platform – now use it! It’s difficult for some people to market themselves. You might be uncomfortable in situations where you have to talk about yourself or your business (or both), or you might have this nagging voice that keeps whispering to you; “no one cares about what you’re doing, and no one wants to be a part of it.”
This just simply isn’t true. Until you actually have an audience, no one is going to market you besides you. You have to be your biggest advocate.
Do a rally cry
Because you don’t really have a ton of fans or followers just yet, you need to rally those who you know are on your side. Use the platform you’ve created to reach out to everyone you know: family, friends, people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and ask them for help. Tell them how much it would mean to you, and how much it would help your business, if they could help spread the word.
If you have a blog, then ask people to subscribe and share a link to your site. If you have a podcast, then ask people to subscribe to it and leave you a review in iTunes. If you are going to be selling some type of service, then ask people for testimonials you can put on your website and social profiles. If you are going to be selling a product, then ask people to review it. All of these things ultimately amount to social proof, and in today’s social-centric world, this can be everything.
Continue to nurture your relationships
Wait! Not so fast… it doesn’t stop there. You need to continue to focus, continue to produce incredible content, and continue to ask people to subscribe, rate, and review your business/service/product. You don’t get to go at it one time and then put your head down and start producing. You need to continue to nurture the relationships you do have so that you can gain more fans and followers as a result. Think of building your audience in terms of the “snowball effect”. The more people you tell, the more opportunities you’re putting out there for them to tell their friends, and so on.
Remember: if you are providing your customers a reason to want to go to your website, either by way of a valuable giveaway or other content that’s free and that solves a problem for them, then most people will welcome the opportunity to say thanks in any way they can. You just have to provide them with this opportunity by way of asking.
Don’t be a stranger
Knowing people in your industry is a key way to help build your audience. Meeting people who may have more influence over your desired audience than you currently do can help you break into that community. And because they have likely already built up authority and trust in your industry, those who they are talking to will listen to what they have to say.
Over the past few years conferences have become “the new thing to do”. You’re feeling pretty darn cool if your tweets contain hashtags that mark you as a participant in a talk about social media or marketing or technology. And it’s because these types of talks and gatherings make people feel as if they’re a part of something – a community of like-minded people. It’s like joining an accelerated mastermind that last 1, 2, maybe even 3 days; and for entrepreneurs, this is super important.
Can’t afford a conference? Join a group of like-minded people on Facebook, LinkedIn or start creating circles on Google+ that will connect you with people in your industry or who are working towards similar goals.
We all know it’s lonely
Being an entrepreneur is a lonely road. There are days when you don’t talk to anyone from the “outside world”, or connect with your friends to talk about some trending topic that interests you. Heck, there are even days when you don’t step outside because you’ve been at your desk for 14 hours and it’s almost time to get ready for bed. Sure – there are times when you might be way more productive on a day when you’re not distracted by squawking friends or the daylight, but having events like conferences to attend ensures you’ll be out of the house and interacting with like-minded people. And when you’re paying hundreds – sometimes thousands of dollars to do it – you can’t very easily decide last-minute to not go.
These networking opportunities are important. You get to meet people in your industry, talk to others about business ideas, brainstorm solutions to challenges and you get to build relationships. Through conferences, you’re building yourself a community of like-minded people who will get to know you, who will get to know your business and who can help you build an audience. Some of them may not be as far along in their business as you are, and some of them may be way farther down the road than you are. Ask for help. Ask for support. Ask for suggestions.
Another great way to build relationships and become part of a community is to join a mastermind group, where you can guarantee you’ll be surrounded by others who have/will be/are in the exact same situation as you.
In summation, building your audience requires:
…in that order. Remember: no one should be a bigger advocate of the podcast, blog, product, service, whatever it is you are creating than you are. Now get out there and start building!
What’s one thing you’ve done – or plan to do – to help build your audience? Share with your community of like-minded entrepreneurs in the comments section below!