Build Your Audience Before You Build Your Business
Planning to start up your business? Perhaps your focus is on raising funds as you are currently low on finance. But what about your audience? Don’t you need to build audience for your business as well?
Many startups commit this mistake. They think it is okay to build the business first and then bother about their audience. But in reality, it is advantageous to have your audience ready before starting your business and not after starting it.
Think about it: You already have a bunch of audience when you actually start your company and these people know about your work, what you offer and how they can benefit from it.
Why it is Amazing to Build Your Audience First?
First and foremost, building your audience before you build your product/service will help you determine whether or not your idea will fly in the market.
The concept basically echoes what Brian Clark said in his Minimum Viable Audience model, which is designed for new entrepreneurs and startups to understand what people really want to buy. The major advantages of this approach include:
- It helps in extensive market research – you can learn directly from your target audience
- Early adopters can provide you better feedback, which allows you to build a better product
- It helps you find new opportunities
- It assists you in brand building; besides, you will have your valuable media asset ready which will help you become an authority in your domain in the coming days
So how to build an audience-first model? In most cases, it begins with content marketing. Email marketing, blogging, and social media, provide incredibly effective foundational ways to build your audience even before you launch your business.
The following are 5 ways of building an audience-first model for your business:
Have A Strong Content Marketing Strategy
It might sound cliché, but content marketing is the stepping stone to have a successful business online. Start with creating and sharing informative and useful free content.
This will not only help you to attract your target audience but also convert them into your loyal followers and eventually into customers, when you finally launch your business.
If you can do the content marketing right, coupled with an equally powerful product/service to offer, you can easily convert your customers into repeat buyers. In the long run, these people will gradually become your brand evangelist. And it all began with the right content marketing strategy.
A strong content marketing strategy will help you educate your buyers since the content you share will be closely related to what your business offers. This way your target audience will already know, like, and trust your brand enough by the time you launch your business.
Storytelling, for example, is a good way to begin your startup’s content marketing. Want to raise fund on a crowdfunding platform? Try telling your story in compelling way – a lot of young entrepreneurs are actually doing it.
Also, don’t aim to sell with content marketing. Instead, focus on driving thought leadership and awareness in your area of expertise. Qualcomm Spark, for instance, is leveraging innovating content to attract and engage readers.
They have business leaders, tech bloggers and journalists covering topics that interest their audience, rather than talking about themselves. The company experienced “70 percent average monthly increase in visits” within 18 months.
Leverage Blogging to Attract Readers
While content marketing is more than writing blog posts, you just can’t overrule the importance of having a blog in place. Joe Pulizzi, the founder of Content Marketing Institute and one of the pioneers of the content marketing movement, started his journey with a blog in 2007.
The question now arises: What should you write about? Taking Joe’s advice, you need to combine your area of expertise with your passion.
This is exactly what Joe did; he wrote about content marketing, establishing himself as a thought leader in this domain. With time he stepped into other areas like training, events and consulting. But his focus was on creating an audience-first model for his business through content marketing.
You can follow a similar approach as well. Align your passion and expertise with the interests and needs of your target audience.
Offer them something so valuable that they keep coming back to you, again and again. Also, publish your posts on a regular basis so that your audience have a content hub to go to.
Don’t be frustrated if you have a small or no audience in the beginning as it will take some time to build a base. When Joe started his blog, his only audience was his mom.
Allow Your Audience to Voice Their Opinion Via Commenting
To go to the next level when building your audience, you need to harvest your audience.
Maintain consistent and regular touch points with your audience and perhaps the best way to do it is by allowing them to voice their opinion. Allow them to comment on your blog posts.
Many blogger disables commenting in order to keep their blog free of spammy comments. While that can help you keep your blog clean, allowing your readers to comment on your posts can help you reach out to industry influencers. You can even respond to their comments to engage your readers.
Besides, you can get ideas about topics that interest the larger part of your audience via their comments. It also helps you engage with other bloggers on popular forums and social networks.
Leaving helpful comments, sans anything promotional, on other blogs is another sure-fire way to attract attention and get noticed in the crowd.
Email Marketing to Stay in Touch
Your content is an integral part of your referral traffic ecosystem. According to QuickSprout, “production is only 20% of the content marketing formula. The rest is distribution.”
This means, creating great content is not enough, you need to stay in touch and distribute your content with your audience as well. One of the best ways to do so is through email marketing.
An Econsultancy study found that 66 percent of marketers have rated email marketing ROI “as excellent or good.”
Start building your email list of subscribers the moment you start planning your business. Since you already have a blog and a reader base, creating an email list won’t be much of a problem. Just make sure that there is a clear place for your readers to subscribe for your email list.
The real challenge lies in building personal connections. SmartShoot’s marketing director Steve P. Young suggests focusing on the subject lines for driving cold recruitment. His simple, yet catchy subject line “Your AMAZING photos” generated 70 percent open rate and 25 percent conversion rate for his email marketing campaign.
Also, be extremely personal and personable in your emails so that your audience understands that there are real people, representing your company. The content of your email should be matter-of-fact and upfront, something inspiring dialogue from the get-go.
Send an email to your subscribers every time you publish a new blog post, video, ebook or host a webinar etc. But limit it to maximum once or twice a week otherwise it will look spammy and people will rather start unsubscribing you.
Don’t Forget Social Media
According to a 2015 study by Pew Research Center, 65 percent of American adults currently use social networking sites. In fact, Facebook’s daily active users accounted 1.01 billion in September 2015.
It is therefore obvious that you simply cannot close your eyes to social media when trying to build your audience online. You love it or hate it, social media has a key influence on present-day PR industry.
To begin with, social media can help your content/idea become viral. Shares through social channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest etc. not only help you gain visibility but also drives awareness.
In addition, social media can help you create new business opportunities and drive online leads if used properly. So focus on building up your followers on the popular social media platforms together with your content strategy. The best part, they won’t cost you much apart from your time.
Start creating groups or join some existing ones and participate actively in the discussion. But again, don’t just promote your content; instead, answer, discuss, and chime in. You can even hold Q/A sessions on sites like Inbound.org and answer questions your followers have. Be informative in your approach.
Another great way to build your audience on social media is to host social media contests. Qwertee – a t-shirt company, for example, gave away 1,000 shirts every week to get more than 100,000 likes on their Facebook page. The campaign was an instant hit.
You too can do something similar. This way you can even have some early adopters and get feedback from them as well to further improve your product.
Building your audience is a recurring task for any business. All through your journey as an entrepreneur you need to reach out to new target audience in order to expand your market reach.
And these five tips we have mentioned in this post will help you build your audience even after you build your business. But when you are appointing content marketing to build your audience, just remember one thing.
Never try to be pushy or dishonest in your approach in order to monetize your audience. Rather, focus on building a strong connection with your audience and start preparing them for your upcoming business launch.