Creating Meaningful Connections With Your Content
It may seem controversial but having a big email list could be damaging to your business. I asked Kate Hills, Make It British owner, why she found a big list so much of a pain. Her reply was “try segmenting 90,000 people in any meaningful way to sell.”
The way I see it, there are three levels of people who know about your business and what you do. I’ve put them in a nice fancy pyramid to illustrate this:
When you understand how you need to communicate to each level, you create a nice system that moves the right people into the right zone.
Let’s look at these some more.
Your followers are people who know you exist. They have a curiosity about what you do and take note of your marketing. Your followers will be a mix of people who are potential sales, your competitors and peers, and aspirational people.
I’m a big follower. Especially of my peers. I like to see what people do and work out how they do certain things. I decide whether it’s worth testing in my own business or if I can give them support by expanding what they do into my network so they can get a bit more reach. I probably like what they do but don’t need what they are selling. So I follow them.
Now, I don’t want you to think that you only get followers on social media. I’m talking about friends and family here. Those that care about you and what to support your endeavours.
My first business was a craft box. I worked with other creatives to send out a monthly subscription box. Some became my friends, some my followers. One particular artist liked to talk. A lot. Now, I love a good natter but when you’re at a market or show, you need to be reaching as many new people as possible.
This lovely woman talked at me for the best part of 90 minutes. I’m pretty useless at getting out of uncomfortable situations so listened and nodded my way through as I spied many customers walk away. HUGE mistake.
By not wanting to be rude to my follower, I lost sales. Beware falling into this trap.
How it might look is spending a lot of time in conversation with people that don’t actually go anywhere further along your sales funnel. Your end point might be making a good connection or collaborating with someone but unless your outcome benefits you in some way, be careful of getting caught up in this.
Now, I’m not saying don’t take time with people. You should absolutely do that. But know how to back out when it’s becoming a sponge.
Another example of this is someone who had me do one job for them. Then expected me to drop everything and respond to them immediately every time. Actually, there’s been a few people like this and my best advice is to walk away.
You’ll know when you chat to someone if they are genuinely interested in what you do. Have systems in place to pre-qualify anything that takes up your time, like a sales call. And be clear on who you work with and who you make time to connect with for just the fun of it.
These are the good folks who are more committed to what you do. When followers become your audience, they champion and cheerlead your work. You’ll get to know them more and what they need.
You want your newsletter list to be filling up with audience members. They are fans of what you do. But let’s be clear here, not all of your audience members are going to buy what you are selling.
Sure, they are more invested than your followers. And you’ll know some of them by their names or emails. You’ll know your audience because they open most of your emails, often on the day you send them. In fact, they probably have expectations of what you’ll do content-wise and when.
And, of course, your audience should be your ideal customers. Some will be ready to buy and some not yet.
It’s really important to distinguish between an audience member and a follower. Not just because you might get stuck in long boring conversations that go nowhere but because it’s good to lead these audience members further down the path and into your community.
Your community goes beyond simply being your customers. You can have people that buy from you once and they are done. They might not even be an audience member any more.
But your community is that central group of people who are the soul of what you do. They buy from you time and again. But they also know each other. That’s what community is and why it’s so important.
You build a community.
Big tech understand this. It’s why Facebook put so much effort into their groups. And why Instagram and Twitter value the hashtag system. You can and should build a community on your own ground. A place for people to come together.
It doesn’t have to be your newsletter (but that’s a good space to start). There are pros and cons for building community spaces on social media, your own website, or apps like Mighty Networks and Slack.
The golden rule should be to make it as easy as possible for people.
When you build a community, you create meaningful connections with the people you should value the most in your business.
This is also why concentrating on the number and not the person behind that number can lead you to have a big following but zero community.
How you communicate matters
How you speak to each of these groups really does matter. You wouldn’t speak to a stranger the same way you would a close friend. The more someone gets to know you and your business, the more you can bring them into your community through communication.
Let’s take emails, for example, as you’re reading one right now. For someone who signed up to your list through a lead magnet, they might not actually want a regular newsletter from you. They may simply want the lead magnet and ignore everything else.
You have a choice to encourage them over to opening all your emails or clean them from your list.