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 platform
So, you’re back for more, aye? Awesome! In our last Business Challenge post we talked about Identifying Your Audience. Now that you know who you’re talking to, let’s take a look at ways you can begin to build a platform that will support your audience. Ready??… Let’s go!
Have you ever been on the ground level when a space shuttle is getting ready for launch? That crazy vibration you can feel coming up from the ground, and the noise level so loud you think your ears might fall off – oh, the excitement!
…yeah, neither have I.
BUT, I can imagine if someone were on the ground level when a space shuttle was getting ready to launch, and they happened to ask if the launch could happen successfully without a platform, then the answer would be “NO”.
There are a lot of things that need to happen behind the scenes before you can just go and launch a space shuttle. Well, okay, let me rephrase that: … before you can just go and successfully launch a space shuttle.
Same goes for your business.
Building your platform is a critical step to ensuring you’re all set up to rock and roll once you launch your business.
So, how does one go about building a platform, exactly?… Great question.
Building your platform requires that you have a baseline understanding of what it is your audience is looking for (and in turn, who they are). The reason for this is that you need to know how you will market to them. If you don’t know who they are, then marketing to them will be like fishing without a pole.
You will certainly be tweaking and refining your business, products and services as you go, which is why having a platform is so important. Building your platform will ensure you have the systems in place that will allow your audience to connect with you, and also to share their wants, needs, desires, and their feedback with you.
Here are a few tips to get you on the right path to building your platform:
Create a Website
Where do people usually go to find out more about a business and what they have to offer? You’ve got it – their website. It’s almost like a home base, where you have the ability to provide valuable resources and information that get people wanting to come back for more. And of course, this is how people can get in touch with you.
Have an Opt-in page
(and a reason for people to want to sign up)
Depending on your business goals, a top priority should be growing an email list. And what better way to get people to give it up than offer them something of value for free? You can create free give-aways like a video tutorial, an eBook or even offer templates for download if people sign up for your list.
Connecting with your audience through their inbox is one of the most popular ways to communicate these days. Don’t underestimate the power of a solid, engaged email list when it comes time to sell your products or services.
Let’s face it: everyone (I repeat: everyone) is on some type of social media site these days. It’s up to you to make sure you’re sharing, liking, tweeting, linking, grouping, pinning and plus-ing on some – if not all – of them. People love reaching out through social media, so open the doors for them! (Note: depending on your business, some platforms may be better than others. Do some research to find out where you can make the most impact for your business.)
Before you launch, have at least x5 of whatever you’re bringing to the table. Some examples:
Podcasting? Don’t launch with just one – launch with five. Why this is so important:
What if you launch your podcast in iTunes and your plan is release a new episode every other week – okay, that’s great. So you launch day one with one episode. You don’t really have a huge audience yet since you’ve just barely launched, and so you’re relying on social traffic and word of mouth to get people to go find you in iTunes and download your one episode.
But oh – wait! The iTunes New and Noteworthy section is available to you for the first eight weeks that you’re on iTunes and is a great way to get organic traffic to your podcast. I repeat: eight weeks – (8) – ocho. Note: make it your ultimate, all-time, ever-lasting, biggest-ever-in-the-entire-world goal to make it into this section.
So, it’s simple math here: you plan on doing a bi-weekly podcast, which means you’ll only release four episodes in the eight-week period that you have to be featured in the New and Noteworthy section. If you release only four episodes during that time, and you have 100 people download each of those episodes, that’s 400 downloads. New and Noteworthy, What’s Hot, Top Podcasts – all of these sections in iTunes (while their algorithm is ultimately a mystery) in some way, shape or form are determined by your number of downloads.
…anyone catching on yet? Wow, I feel like I should have written a post on just this alone…
Okay, so let’s pretend you do it the way I’ve suggested, and instead of launching with only one episode, you launch with five episodes, and then continue to release three more over the next eight weeks (since you’re bi-weekly). Instead of 400 downloads in that eight-week time period, you’ve just increased your download numbers to 800 (hypothetically) – that’s double! Okay, not launching a podcast?…
How about Blogging? It’s okay to launch with just one blog post, but make sure you have a stockpile so that whatever promise you’re making to your audience about your frequency, you’re able to keep it. Blog posts aren’t always the easiest thing to write – especially if they’re going to be good – and if you’re promising a new post every day, twice a week, even twice a month it’s very important that you are able to deliver that.
Are you feeling a little more solid yet? I can already see that platform starting to build itself!
Every business is different, and depending on who your audience is and what you’re trying to sell, you may benefit from concentrating on some of these tips more than others. Take a deep breath, and smile. You’re preparing yourself for launch, and that’s exciting.
What’s one tip you have for people who are just starting to build their platform? Show your support for fellow entrepreneurs in the comments section below!
Image from BigStock Photo