Over nearly 15 years in business at Dream Local Digital and helping more than 65,000 businesses with their online marketing, some of the most common questions and concerns we hear are:
I’m just starting out. How do I build my audience?
I post on my social media channels, but very few people see it. How can I fix that?
My channels have so few followers that it doesn’t seem worth it to post.
I have a loyal following but need to expand to new people to grow my business.
I need leads and new customers.
I get a lot of likes on social media, but it’s my family and friends, not customers.
Would you believe that the secret to solving all of these challenges is the same? As we’ve discussed in previous posts — your first step has to be deeply understanding your target customer — and understanding the problems that you are uniquely qualified to solve for them. insert
Now I want you to take it a step further and think about:
What sites, publications, blogs or newsletters does your target audience subscribe to or follow?
What influencers, writers, authors or personalities do they follow? What specific topics of interest or books do they read?
What companies or organizations do they follow?
What online or social media groups are they members of? (Facebook? Nextdoor?)
What podcasts or YouTube channels do they subscribe to?
What trade associations or groups do they belong to?
What events do they attend and/or follow? (Think online AND offline)
Step 1: Make yourself a list of all of these sites, social media channels, email lists and publications.
We call this your Dream 100. Yours may be less than 100, but the idea is that you need to create this list to start getting in touch with your audience AND bring them to you. Once you have this list, follow and/or subscribe to them. For events, start attending. This is where your target audience is. Does this take time? It sure does. But, I guarantee you that making this investment of time will pay off in your marketing.
Step 2: You have your Dream 100 list — now what? It’s time to engage and serve.
Now it’s time to get to work. Start observing the content, posts, activities and events going on with your list, and engage with them. Make sure you understand what matters to them, because this is about them, not you. You want to focus here on building rapport. Leave insightful comments on posts, respond to email newsletters with ideas or reactions, attend events and participate, share their content with your own audiences.
You’re doing this for two important reasons: to introduce yourself and increase brand awareness about you, and to serve. Add genuine insights and value on every interaction, and be persistent. Your goal is to build up credibility, and get some of these folks to know, like and trust you. And it’s important that you do this step BEFORE you ask for anything. It will increase your likelihood of success and help you forge long-lasting relationships.
Step 3: Now it’s your turn: the ask
Once you’ve learned from and served members of your Dream 100, now it’s time for outreach to see if there are opportunities for them to share your message and content to their audiences to help you build your own. Always offer to reciprocate and promote them to your growing audience. These relationships can be highly effective and may also include an affiliate relationship where they are compensated in some way for traffic that they drive your way.
You can also seek deeper relationships, like influencer campaigns, joint promotions (could you do webinars together? An ad campaign collaboration?), partnerships, tag each other in social posts, collaborate on content creation, or other ideas. Make sure that you have created a clear landing page for this traffic to welcome the new audience, give them something of value, and have a clear call to action (like subscribe to your email list, follow your social channel and/or learn more about your product or service). Don’t send this traffic to your home page or a generic page, or you’ll see conversions drop.
Step 4: Pay to play
Especially in the beginning, as you’re building up your rapport and credibility, you may need to pay to be exposed to the audience of your Dream 100. Explore opportunities to sponsor content, newsletters, events and/or posts as a strategy to begin to become exposed to their audiences.
While building and working your Dream 100 list can be time consuming, it is an investment in building a solid foundation for your marketing and future growth. Be patient, and be persistent. On the next installment of Scaling Your Business With Shannon, we’ll cover how to balance owned, earned and paid media, and build your email lists — your most important asset!