If you have a framework in place, building your audience is easier when you know who you’re creating for.
You can watch videos telling you how to curate content and read articles on how to be paid more, but if you don’t have a system in place, the tactical hyperbole gets lost. We all need structure. Having a structure means the tactics start to fit in.
This article is about sharing a content framework for what I have used to: build an addressable audience, find the right people to work with (and who want to work with me), find my allies that will stick with me (in terms of recommending to others and building a closer network).
2018 has effectively been my pivot. It has taken five years (since 2013) to get to a point where I feel confident that this structure has a place within businesses. Whilst I acknowledge my weaknesses, namely having ideas and ready to jump in head first, joining everything up now fits a succinct picture.
Everything I Am Sharing Is Drawn From The You Are The Media Project
The You Are The Media project has effectively been my way of sharing you the proof and figuring this all out together.
It is the test bed, the place to tinker, the live lab and effectively me wanting to be my best client. By shaping this, now presents a rigid structure that you can use, or at least think deeper about.
I am showing you my hand. This is what works. Let me share it with you.
There is good work out there at the moment when it comes to creating an owned media space ie. you direct the message, not rely on someone else.
Trevor Young has been sharing some worthwhile videos when it comes to thinking, not just the doing.
You have to build something that is relevant to other people. When people read, watch, attend and listen and find that sense of kinship and attachment, they become more inclined to commit. By commit I mean subscribe, spend, sign-up.
It works like this:
1) Identify what sets you apart
This is about finding your uncontested space. This is something that You Are The Media 2018 speaker, Lunch Club and podcast guest Simon Swan shares from his experience at the Met Office. This whole approach is about sharing with others a better alternative, that no one else has mined deep within.
For instance, I used to swim with everyone else. The output was generic in terms of content marketing, positioning and message and it was saying nothing new. The moment I switched to being all about audience and you owning spaces, it started to become easier for others to associate with.
It has never been more important to find the thing that others can connect with. Buzzsumo’s Content Trends Report 2018 highlighted that social sharing of content has been cut in half since 2015. There is too much going around that sounds the same. We need to be so much more, so others ‘get it.’ On the plus side, the report states that ‘the big winners are sites that have built a strong reputation for original, authoritative content.’
I have highlighted the importance of finding the one word for you to stand by (you can read the one word you stand for here). In a recent article by Seth Godin (Monday 3rd December), he calls it ‘own your word.’ He highlights that traditional SEO strategy is to be sure to title what you create to help you get ‘found.’ The alternative is, ‘to seek to be found by people who were looking for you all along.’
2) Build your home base
If you play by someone else’s rules, all the time, you end up working for another boss.
Platforms are now encouraging you to use their space. It makes complete sense. If the audience is readily available for you. on LinkedIn or Medium, then if you post there. You have a better chance of reach and being seen. However, all you are doing is creating on someone else’s turf.
Building your home base is the place that you have access to and what you have ownership of. Whether this is your website, your email, your podcast, it is about the places where you can move the goalposts, not someone else.
The more you get to love what is yours, the more you have a responsibility. Imagine you are building a library and every month, there are new titles that are added. This makes it a richer, more fulfilling experience for others who come. As your library membership grows you can introduce events such as book clubs and craft days. It all develops from providing for a community.
If someone is searching and they find you, why not give them the opportunity to browse and look around what your own hands have created. When you start to build your home base, or be more creative than calling a section of your website, ‘blog’ it becomes your bat-signal to the world.
The website (https://theidgroup.co.uk/) effectively becomes the source of thinking and output. For instance, the site hosts the weekly You Are The Media articles, as well as the You Are The Media Podcast, as well as signposting people to book for YATM Lunch Club and the YATM Conference.
3) Create and distribute to the right people.
Once you have done the groundwork to recognise the thing that makes you different and the thing that you stand for, this becomes the draw for others.
A relevant message delivered to the right people, who know what they are going to get and when they are going to get it, is stronger than generic principals that anyone can find
I now know the people I create for. You choose the people you serve. I once believed that my audience was ‘senior marketers’ but I couldn’t be further from the truth. What it became were people who bought into a mindset, not just a delivery. These are small business owners, people looking for something different, those who became disillusioned that the only way to gain attention is to spend money to borrow someone else’s audience.
When you have a consistent message that aligns with your business, this is nothing to do with purpose, but others buying into your approach. People believe you more, when you stick with something rather than thinking that everything has to be a campaign.
4) Play by their rules but steal from social media (and any other channel)
Take advantage of what is readily available ie. free, but have an objective to bring people back to you. For instance, if you subscribe to updates from a social channel, all you are going to be is a needle in a haystack.
You can still create a centre of gravity (your website), but in order to get people to commit and spend time, it is also worthwhile for people to see a level of consistency in other places. Why tease people on a social space with a relentless ‘click here to read more’ when you can go native (or undercover) and show your hand wherever and whenever.
The is what I have done and a quick recap:
1.Build a presence where you are confident that your message is not the same as everyone else and you can house the blogging, the video and the audio (your website)
2.Transfer a strand of that narrative to any channel where the audience already exists, such as a micro story on LinkedIn.
3.Pull people away so they can see that the party is happening at yours. This helps build a stronger subscribed audience that is 100% yours
Have a read of this article, click here about why you have to build your home anywhere you can, in order to create a call to action and people to commit.
5) Find your allies
Your allies are the people who will amplify your content. These are the people who will step forward with you and make your overall offering stronger.
I have become a huge advocate of bringing others in on the party. This started in 2013 with the Talking Content Marketing project and interviewing 100 respected people in the world of content marketing.
If you can build a relationship with someone where you are not absorbed in your own agenda but someone can associate with what you believe in, this is where others can extend your message. Genuine relationships have to be built, not short-lived peripheral acquaintances.
Not everyone has to be client, you can’t treat the world as one giant lead. Look at things another way, you can build a network. People want to be treated differently and with respect. They don’t always need to be sold to in order to react.
Let other people see the value they will receive and whether they become a client or not, you build a network so people always feel included.
These are the people who will have your back, share your message, connect you beyond your immediate bubble and effectively become your own sales team. By sales team, I mean other people can help you with reach and distribution of your content.
Your job is to not just to create more content, but to use content to bring people closer to you.
6) Embrace your quirks
As you start to build an audience and you recognise the people you are creating for, you start to become more comfortable in yourself.
Whether you are writing for you or your business, when you start to embrace the things that are away from playing it safe, you begin to carve a space that no one else can copy. This is about being comfortable with the uncomfortable and then creating a sense of belonging for others.
For instance, I have been sharing videos in the past month of me with someone in a green morph suit. People said it looked weird, it looked creepy, but I am ok with that and those who are part of the YATM community, know that’s ok too.
Going with gut instinct and feeling uncomfortable is better than going with what has already been done. When you make things your own way and learn as you go along, it supports your own instinct, not someone else’s ideology of a perfect world that we should be living in because they said it on LinkedIn. One of the most popular articles from 2018 was back in April and where I shared my own experience of burnout.
When you boil everything down it is about creating an attachment from others. When someone comes to your website, your blog, your event, even your social media page, you want them to come back again. It just helps that the connections made are stronger when there is a narrative that someone can align with or something that they haven’t seen before (I’m sure there isn’t a B2B video of someone in a green morph suit).
You have to do things that others are not doing, even if it makes you feel a bit self-conscious. You have a right to entertain.
7) Introduce new media platforms (only after one space is working well)
The web and physical space provide you with an infinite marketplace, Why shoot for the moon when you haven’t even got the small things sorted?
Build first, then you can swivel. For instance, I can guarantee you that if you don’t have a home base and create and distribute the right content to the right people, all you end up having is an expensive hobby. These are the people who progress with the idea for conferences, events, podcasts and wonder why no one shows up and have lost money.
You have to build in one space first, before you make that step into another medium. The difficult thing is that we are always on the path for something new, rather than be encouraged to dig deep in one space and not become distracted.
I can assure you that the 2018 You Are The Media Conference wouldn’t have worked if all I took on board was spending money on Facebook and bombarding an email list that was barely used to push out money off promotions.
My progress has been slow, but it has been like a sandcastle competition. You make a moat, pile the sand in the middle and then slowly things start to take shape, where seashells become windows and paper flags on matchsticks become the dressing to the turrets.
My order of media was this: blog, email, book, event, podcast, conference. One had to show a return, notably audience development, before the next media space was undertaken.
Let’s share with you the main outputs when taking on board a content-driven approach to build an audience in the space you own.
The wins and what is tangible:
– You make everything easier for people to subscribe and leave their info
– People who come on board are more obliged to spend money with you
– More people want to work with you
– The right people who come on board help to tighten your network
– People want to join in and participate
– People recommend you to others
– You become a centre of trust for people within a specific area of the marketplace
– It becomes easier to find a rhythm to create
– You start taking responsibility and become recognised for what you stand for
– It becomes easier for people to stand side by side with you when there is familiarity
– The more people who join your community, the more people will talk about your community
– Your community and customers become your marketing people, so you spend less on media channels, but invest in others
– Influence becomes something you earn, not something you state
– You nurture your own marketplace
– People ask you to share within a wider audience
Let’s Round Up
Building your business can be driven by finding a group/audience to serve, recognise where the forks in the road lie and become a change that others feel comfortable with.
This framework is not from amalgamating a host of books together, but how a content led approach allowed a community to grow and build a marketplace. You Are The Media has presented a testing ground where people have grown together.
As Simon Swan says, who I mentioned earlier in this article, “having an actionable framework is essential to help filter and curate the volume of content – otherwise it’s a long list of content without any focus.’
Having a framework can help save time and perhaps a lot less than the 260 weeks it took me to invest. This model can be applied to your business. It can work.