When growing an online business (or any business), especially a start-up, there is so much going on it’s hard to know what deserves priority. I've found thinking about building your online business like you do building a friendship to be very helpful. Let me quickly explain...
When you initially meet someone the relationship is a little awkward, until you find something that you both have in common or connect on. Business is similar, however, I recommend you be a little more strategic.
First, start with some deep introspection to better clarify what your unique talents are. Then you can think about that all important connection point where your unique talents insect with a very specific type of person who would be interested in learning what you know. It's this intersection point that kicks off the initial first impression and you work to build the relationship from there.
Sounds fairly simple right?
Then why do we have such a difficult time acquiring new business? 80% of entrepreneurs fail...yes, four out of every five. I don't want you to end up like this so it's important to understand you can't attract the attention, interest, and desire for your services without building an audience. More importantly, relevant, engaged, and valued relationships with them. Here are 5 steps to improving your business through connecting with your audience:
1. Share Good Stuff- When we first meet a potential friend it’s almost a natural instinct to impress them so we share our most interesting or funny stories. We want them to feel excited to connect, welcome, and with a desire to learn more about us. This is a great place to start with your content.
Share some (a lot is better) of your best inspirational and educational material. Think about what would resonate with them the most. What do you know well enough to help solve their current most pressing problem? What insight can you share to inspire them to take the next step? What content format would they most likely use to absorb it and help increase your credibility?
2. Listen to Your Audience- As you continue to share with your audience it’s time to shift your focus a bit. It's time for you to get to know them better. You’ve done a good job gaining their attention, but now it's important to create further engagement. The best way is to listen and gather information they share.
You can continue to keep this process informal by asking powerful questions within your webinar or at the end of a blog or video. Do this with a clear call-to-action to leave replies to in your comments section. It's then up to you to sift through the comments they leave on your blogs, social media posts or within forums.
You can also create a formal short survey and follow the above process or send it to your e-mail community & private groups. I recommend keep it short (less than 10 questions) and simple and only ask what you believe will help bring more value to your audience in the future.
With good, engaging content your audience will often tell you what they want or wish they had before without even asking, however you have to have an open ear. Listen for your audiences frequently asked questions.
3. Find Their Attention Triggers- With an open ear you’ll probably recognize some consistencies as in your audiences problems, demographics and psychographics. If not, look for overarching themes related to their physical, emotional, social and logical desires. Themes can help you better pinpoint where and what is keeping their attention.
If you’re hungry to make a difference then you’ll want to target the same places they spend their time and money. These places have either a large number of potential customers or a very targeted group with a specific desire you know you can support.
Where is your audience spending their time online? Is it Instagram, an industry forum, LinkedIn, etc.? How are they getting answers to their problems or finding inspiration now? What mediums do they consume their information?
4. Choose an Intersection Point- The better you understand your audience the more clear you'll become on where and what you can do to inspire and assist them. The greatest point of connection will occur when you have a detailed solution to their specific struggle. This is typically the point where your best talent or skill intersects their current need. This intersection point is a big bridge builder between you and your audience.
If you can deliver (over deliver is better) a simple, but effective solution to a nagging frustration then you and your brand just increased in value in their eyes. At a minimum, help them feel more confident and gain a sense of progress and they’ll look into furthering the relationship with you.
Simply shoot to change the troubling emotional state that’s been bothering them and they'll trust you more. Where do your talents help “close the loop” for your audience? When do they need this solution most?
5. Get Personal- If you want an audience to stick around for a long time then it's important to get them to "plant roots" in your community. Continue to add value, grow your relationship, and now find the way to their heart. In essence, be authentic and consciously, yet carefully share your personality with them.
Be the professional in their circle who they know, like and trust better than the rest. By strategically sharing your values and beliefs, stories of struggle, how you've conquered goals, helpful insights along the journey and more you can help your audience better understand what you stand for.
Decide early what you're going to share with your listeners, subscribers, and customers. Although getting your audience’s attention is very important, it's even better if you can be the one who captures their heart. Create a community they want to grow in and they will keep coming back.
What’s an important value that will ring true with the majority of your audience? What story of struggle will help them better relate with you?
A great business helps to make a difference in the community while sustaining a profit for continued growth and impact. However, it's extremely difficult to do so without having an audience that enjoys listening and learning from you. That's why building and connecting with your audience must be one, if not your primary focus when trying to improve the bottom line of your online business.
Many entrepreneurs succumb to fear, self-sabotage or a simply a lack of productivity. Don’t be an entrepreneur treading water. If you want to be and stay relevant then you must keep your online business moving forward. The truth is, if you’re not connecting with your audience in today's fast-paced market then you're treading water and actually going backwards.
What do you do to keep you and your online business moving forward? You can start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below or on our social media outlets.