Not everything about audience building is as cut and dried as the experts would like you to believe. In fact, here's decidedly counterintuitive advice for engaging your target audience.
1. Your target isn't small enough.
You don't get 10,000 new customers by targeting 10,000 new target audience members. You get sales by targeting 1,000 individuals who will spread the word once they've bought your product or service.
You need an audience that will share because your have limited chances at best of reaching everybody. Let your audience help you get the word out about how great your product or service is. The key is to build a narrow audience of individuals who know you or your brand very well. Because people only buy from those they know, like, and trust.
2. Talk with your audience.
Businesses work so hard at engaging their audiences with their content, but when individuals reach out, businesses will not interact. Sounds very counterintuitive, but businesses think people posting comments to blog posts aren't looking for a response. Wrong!
You should always at the minimum thank your readers for their comments, both good and bad. Let them know you appreciate them taking the time to read and comment. It shows you're listening to what your audience is saying and you take them seriously.
3. Don't sell.
But what's the point of great content then, you may ask? The purpose of great content is to offer your audience something of real value. You can't offer the same content everyone else is using either; it must be original and thought-provoking.
No one wants to buy from someone who puts out content that screams "buy from me now, please!" But if you continually give them great advice and inspiration, when they're ready to buy, they'll think of you first. You must give away your best stuff to sell one day down the road.
4. Promote others' content.
Another counterintuitive idea is to promote other's best work. Link to your competitors if they provide content that meets the following checklist:
- Cites a government study
- Links to an industry organization or authority on your topic
- Hosts reliable bloggers or experts with large followings and similar content to yours
You're trying to educate your target audience, not sell them. Build your brand's authority and trust by linking to great content. When you consistently provide the best content out there, who is your audience going to turn to when it's time to buy?
Be careful not to litter your content with useless links. That will have the opposite effect, driving your target audience away.
5. Get clear on your promise.
What's this about a promise, you say? Great content does more than answer the standard question, "what's in it for me?" It instead answers this one simple question:
- How will your audience change because of reading your post?
How will their lives become easier, how can you help them grow, or can you help them do something faster, better, or more efficiently than before? Give your best ideas away for free—with no strings attached.
Another idea that sounds trés counterintuitive, but giving away your best ideas creates immense value for your audience. It's the best way to turn your target audience into co-collaborators, supporters, and even raving fans who share your posts and help you reach countless others.
6. Underwhelm your audience with data.
It sounds counterintuitive because most authors think the more data they use to prove their point, the more they'll sound like an expert, right? Wrong. The more of a data dump you do, the more overwhelmed your audience will be with points to remember.
People can remember anywhere between 4 and 7 things, hence why phone numbers are 7 digits long. Be ruthless when editing. If a piece of information, a story, or a statistic doesn't connect back to your promise, cut it out.
7. Give them something to do next.
You don't want people reading your content with, "fascinating, but what do I do with it?" No matter how great your content is, how compelling your stories are, people need to know what they're supposed to do with all that new information.
Show your target audience how to take action. For each point you make, answer the question, "what do I do with this?" And every action you want your audience to take must bring them one step closer to your promise. It's even more powerful if your audience can take at least one of these actions while reading your content.
When you write your next blog post or article, keep in mind who you want to engage. Picture that person at the epicenter of your post. Persuasion becomes easier, relationships deepen, and you become your target audience's go-to expert. And people like to buy from those they know, trust, and like.
So counterintuitive advice—yea or nay? If you want to be best-in-class, shake things up a bit and don't do what everyone else is doing. Let us know in the comments below what works for you.