I got a great question last week after my presentation at our live Authority Intensive event in Denver.
What do I do if I feel like I’ve outgrown my audience?
I think a lot of business owners run into this.
Maybe the owner has personally and professionally grown a lot, but the customer base is still very much made up of newbies. Or maybe the topic isn’t as exciting as it used to be.
But there’s something that fascinates me about content-based businesses (online or off, actually). And the single most commonly used word I’ve heard business owners use to describe it is spooky.
Let’s start with the very sound marketing practice of visualizing one single, perfect customer for your business. If this isn’t something you’ve done yet, it’s probably the most important single action you can take to improve your marketing. And it will only take you about 20 minutes.
Once you know who you serve, you talk to that person and only to that person. In other words, every word of your content marketing program — your blog content, email content, advertising, and social presence — is written with that one individual firmly in mind.
This makes your marketing and content feel more intimate, because you’re using the language of individual conversations — which is what works in web content. It makes your writing easier and tends to loosen up writer’s block. And that intimate tone will help your “perfect customer” feel very comfortable.
But those aren’t the only reasons to do it.
Your customers shape your business
Business decisions get made to solve problems and open up opportunities. Usually a lot more of the former than the latter.
When you don’t do any work to define your customer, you have to create a lot of policies and processes to deal with people you shouldn’t be dealing with in the first place.
- Time-wasters and energy vampires
- People who can’t afford your service or don’t get enough value from it, so they’re always battling you on price
- Negative people
- Mean people
- People whose personalities are incompatible with yours (maybe they’re flakes and you’re a stickler for detail, or vice versa)
You get the idea.
Some of them might be perfectly nice. But they’re not right for you. And when you have customers who aren’t right for you, they invariably become a gigantic pain in the ass.
When you know exactly who your customer is, you shape your product and service so it’s exactly what she wants, the way she wants it.
So you’re not the main force shaping that business. She is.
But you do, of course, play a pretty important role.
If you want a different audience, be a different leader
If your audience isn’t giving you what you need (spiritually, economically, grammatically … whatever), it’s because you’re sending out the wrong messages.
Maybe you’re holding back on saying what you genuinely believe, because you worry about losing people or hurting some feelings.
Maybe you’re shaping your business around “what theoretically sells” instead of actually observing the (most valued) members of your audience and figuring out what they want from you.
Maybe you’re listening to the wrong audience — to the peanut gallery and not to the ones you truly want to help.
I know business and marketing coaches who never, ever mention the word “work” because it keeps people from buying. Around here, we figure it keeps the wrong people from buying — and saves bandwidth for the awesome ones who will actually do something with what we offer.
If you’re attracting people you don’t want — let’s say they’re angry, or frivolous, or passive — look for that anger, frivolity, or passivity in your own content. Not only in your “official” blog and email content, but also in how you interact yourself on your social networks.
Your customers shape your business
Who you are — as a business — is shaped by who you serve.
If you have products and services for lazy people, that’s who will show up. And if you have products and services for smart people, they’ll show up too.
Use your content marketing to put out — at high volume — what you want to get back.
Even in the sea of Internet noise, you’ll find the ones who resonate. Just as good, you’ll royally turn off the ones who don’t fit. Which is exactly what you want and need to do.
The distinction between connection and marketing gets fuzzy
Yes, there is a difference between the content that opens up that audience connection and the content that makes the sale. (If you want to know what that difference looks like, take a look at this free ebook, in which Copyblogger founder Brian Clark maps it out for you.)
But when you’ve uncovered your exact perfect person and then you shape the business around what she cares about, selling becomes a form of connection and service.
And you don’t kill yourself building extraneous stuff that doesn’t really float your perfect person’s boat. (In other words, stuff that won’t create a connection or a sale.)
You’re making an offer of help, rather than “asking for the sale.” You don’t need to out-yell the Sham-Wow guy, because the product itself is doing the shouting for you:
I’m the perfect product! I’m exactly what you’ve been looking for! I’m going to help you and make your life better and you’re going to be so glad we found each other. Embrace me, you madly gorgeous perfect customer, you!
When connection and selling come together, even though it’s a lot of work, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels completely absorbing and interesting and you wish you had more hours in the day so you could do more of it.
How about you? Are you attracting the audience you want? What do you think it is in your message that’s most responsible for that?
Let us know here in the conversation over on Google+.
Note: Some parts of this article were originally published on my Remarkable Communication blog.
Want more insights from Authority Intensive?
For those of you who are members of our Authority education and networking community, Jerod Morris and I are going to be unpacking our juiciest takeaways for you this coming Friday. All who attended the Authority Intensive live event are also welcome. (Check your email box for the invite.)
We’ll be getting into:
- The most powerful lessons we learned from Seth Godin’s and Darren Rowse’s keynote addresses
- Tom Martin’s tough truth about the perils of chasing the click
- The one-two conversion punch Joanna Wiebe talked about (everyone was buzzing about this talk)
- Annie Cushing’s key insight about assisted conversions, which might change how you think about your advertising
- And lots more about networking, content, strategy, and being an insanely kick-ass marketer
(I might even talk about what it was like filming that Matrix-influenced video with Brian that opened the event.)
Just like you do every week, hit the Member Home page for information on how to register for the session. And if you’re not an Authority member yet, you might want to check it out. We offer fresh, in-depth education and guidance nearly every week of the year, as well as networking, discounts, and more.
Flickr Creative Commons Image via Exit Festival
A quick action you can take to keep fighting for net neutrality
A few weeks back, we told you what net neutrality means for you and your business. More important, we told you why you need to protect it.
If you’re reading this the day it was posted (May 14), then you may have noticed the page loading “slowly,” accompanied by a pop-up window explaining that this is what the Internet could become if Comcast, TimeWarner, and friends get their way. We did this to prove a point, and all it took was a simple script, which you can get here and add to your site too.