Building an audience online is one of the smartest things you can do to create a successful business. Yet it is often overlooked, or at least, underestimated.
There’s a world of difference between “generating leads” and “building an audience”. If you understand “compounding” you’ll see why the latter is a strategic move.
Every successful business is built on two fundamental foundations:
- Useful processes
- Valuable assets
Creating an audience falls under both. With an engaged audience, finding clients becomes easy, which creates more security, and leads to a more valuable business. Ultimately, this is what delivers your success.
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Why is creating an audience important?
Assets give your business both value and security.
Your main asset, of course, is your “product” … whatever it is that you do or sell. It might be a tangible product, it might be a service. Bottom line – it needs to solve people’s problems. If it does, it’s an asset, and the starting point of your business.
Then come the processes: the ways you turn that “asset” into a successful venture…
How you structure your business, how you package your service, how you charge, your marketing, how you find your clients, how you build your audience … these processes determine how successful your business will be.
If you have weak, undefined, inconsistent processes, you’re more than likely going to have a weak business – or at least, one that’s not operating as well as it could be. Useful processes ensure you realise the value of your assets.
And ONE of those processes is how you create another important asset: your customers … and before them, your audience.
Because no matter how good your product or service is, and no matter how good you are – if no-one knows about you or your business, or if no-one is buying from you, you’re going to struggle. You may not even have a business at all.
Finding Clients vs Building an Audience
Hence, it’s important to know the distinction between a “process for finding clients” vs the ASSET of HAVING AN AUDIENCE.
Because finding clients, even with a great process, can be difficult … and inconsistent … and not guaranteed. Whereas if you’ve already built an audience – if you already have that ASSET – then the process of finding clients becomes SO much easier.
So the important process here is the process of BUILDING YOUR AUDIENCE. Rather than the process of finding clients…
Assets provide you security and they provide you value. A strong “product” alone cannot do this. You need the security of knowing you have customers, and a constant pool of potential new customers behind you…
Which means a successful business really requires THREE fundamental “moving parts”:
– Your “product” asset – value and security to your clients.
– Your “audience” asset – value and security to YOU.
– And your defined and consistent processes – making it all work brilliantly.
So – how do you gain an audience, and create that second critical asset that guarantees your success?
You do it by building yourself a lake.
How to build an audience
Let’s take the idea of “fishing for clients”, a little more literally.
To go “fishing” for clients, there are two basic options – river fishing or lake fishing.
If you’re river fishing:
– So long as you’re out there fishing – casting your line out – you have the potential to find clients.
– You’re competing with other anglers. You’re all trying to attract the attention of the same FEW fish who are ready to bite right now. And the fisherman upstream may catch more than you, just because the fish happened to pass him first…
– As soon as you stop fishing, others swoop in. It’s exhausting, and you gain no momentum from one day’s fishing to the next.
– The fish you DON’T catch are gone. They’ve swum downstream, gone forever, probably none the wiser that you were even there on the banks at all.
Most people do “lead generation” as a river-fishing exercise.
Alternatively, you can create a lake, and fish there instead … a lake of your own, that you cultivate and nurture over time. Which means:
– You’re no longer focusing on the process of finding your clients, you’re focusing on creating an ASSET.
– Your lake is stocked with fish who are hungry for the food that YOU are providing them. They may even be getting addicted to it.
– There are no other anglers throwing a line in just before yours, catching your fish further upstream … the fish in that pond are only waiting for you, because YOU are the one feeding them … with food that they like.
– You don’t need to fish every day. You can just go along and fish whenever you need to, knowing there will be plenty of fish in the lake when you do.
– The fish in your lake are not swimming past you, unaware and gone forever. It’s not a one-chance approach. Those you don’t catch today will still be there next time you make an offer.
When you look at it this way, it’s easy to see the better approach. Lake fishing is a strategic move.
Creating a lake – building an audience – means you have an asset. You have a constant pool of potential clients, people who are already interested in what you have to say, and are already aware of who you are and what you do … and whenever you need a new client, you know exactly where to go to find them.
So the next question is: How do you build your own lake?
There are 4 stages for building your audience … for creating your lake:
1. Build your audience platform (a.k.a “create your lake”)
Develop the platforms that give you somewhere to attract, and then communicate with, your ideal audience – those fish you most want to be catching.
2. Attract your target audience (a.k.a “stock the lake”)
Attract people to these platforms. How? Give them what they’re LOOKING for.
Answer their questions, provide them with helpful insights, entertain them, give them useful, helpful information … maybe even some resources.
Show them that you know what you’re talking about, and inspire them to want to stay close, so they can benefit from more of what you have to offer.
3. Engage with your audience (a.k.a “feed the lake”)
Keep them interested. Keep them engaged. Keep them aware … by giving them more of what they came for. More of what attracted them in the first place.
Show them you understand their situation.
Keep that communication regular and consistent. Allow them to rely on you as a permanent source of information, enjoyment, inspiration … allow them to develop a relationship with you. Let them get to know you, get to respect your work, your brand, your knowledge, your consistency.
“Feed them”, and keep them happy, engaged and alert to your presence.
4. Convert your audience to paying clients (a.k.a “go fishing”)
Create demand. They don’t need to live with their problem.
Show there’s a way out. Tell them what you can do for them.
Tell them about your new products or services.
Make them offers. Show how you can solve their problems. Ask them if they’d like some help.
They already know you, trust you, and like what you can do … the odds are firmly in your favour.
And those who don’t say yes today, might say yes tomorrow, or next week, or next year … because they’ll still be there, in that lovely lake you built.
When should you start building an audience?
Well, as the old Chinese proverb goes…
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now.”
So … the best time to start creating your audience – and create that vital asset to provide your business with the security of consistent income – is right NOW.
Do you have some lakes already? If not, start there – create the places you can communicate from.
Do you have enough fish in those lakes? If not, start there – offer something they’re looking for, invite them into your lake.
Have you been feeding them? If not, start there – you may need to encourage them to the surface first though, if they’re bored of waiting!
If you have all the above … your asset is looking good! Time to go fishing and reap the benefits of your strategic asset building.