You’ve probably been at a party where some fool is talking his face off at everyone he meets. He talks about his trip to Spain and how he is such an amazing photographer. He never asks, “What you do or what interests you?” He just blathers on and on about himself.
On a good day I silently chuckle at this guy’s lack of social common sense. On a bad day I snap and scream, “PLEASE listen to me for just 10 seconds!”
When all you do is talk about yourself, you send people running in the other direction. If you don’t care about other people they for sure won’t care about you.
This was how the old school way of marketing worked. Megaphone style.
Many of you might not think of your blog as a business and I understand, but one day you might want to create a ebook, product or use your blog to leverage a new career. When you improve your engagement your blog it becomes a tool to help you level up your life and career.
Spray and Pray
Back in the day, companies used to spray and pray. They sprayed their message in as many places as possible (magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, etc) and prayed that they picked the right advertising spots. Larger companies could afford to pay for market research, so they were able to make sure most of their efforts paid off.
Smaller companies didn’t have this luxury. Straight out of college, I worked in the marketing department for a high pressure valve company. They grossed about 10 million a year in sales. Not too shabby, but nothing compared to the bigger players in the industry.
We had to carefully choose our national magazines and our marketing company told us who read the magazines and which ones we needed to advertise in. We had to believe them. We had nothing else to go on.
This style of marketing has been turned upside down due to blogging and social media. Every business has the opportunity to measure their engagement on their website, email and social media accounts. The problem with all these new tools is we have the wrong attitude toward them. Companies are afraid to be transparent and engage with their customers.
Why? Because it’s hard work.
Mr. Blather Lips, from the introduction, had a great time at every party he went to because he didn’t have to gauge people’s emotions. He just blathered on until he found someone to listen or it was time to go home.
Now businesses actually have to listen to their customers because if they don’t, a social media storm comes crashing down upon them. Just ask Netflix if they wished they had a better plan for when they doubled their prices.
Listening to your readers isn’t just for dealing with social media storms. It’s also so you can anticipate them and avoid them before they even happen. Now, every business has the opportunity to do market research. You can ask specific customers if they would be willing to fill out an online survey. You can ask them direct questions on your blog or social media that help you figure out what they want from you.
You don’t have to guess what you think people need. You can ask them directly and find out. You can even include them in the process of creating your product.
Invitation to Join In
Threadless created their million dollar t-shirt company from this idea. They have people send in t-shirt designs, have the users vote on which designs they would like to buy and print only the most popular ones. They already have a built in audience for their t-shirts. It’s a win-win for everyone.
The company prints the most popular, making some good cash and the buyers get a limited edition t-shirt that they are proud to wear. Even the winning t-shirt designs are helpful to the designers. They can add this accomplishment to their resume.
You probably knew that engaging your ideal people was wise, but now what?
Now you have to go out and find them and start a conversation, but before you do you need to find out where you can connect with them.
- Write a description of the ideal client for your product
You have to ask yourself some specific questions to help you gain clarity:
- What does she look like?
- What motivates her?
- What does she do for fun?
- What are her career goals?
- Where does she hang out? (Facebook, conferences, Twitter, etc.)
- How do you engage with her? (light banter, philosophically, monetarily, etc.)
The hard part is making the mental switch from talker to engager.
I’m not just talking about being a better listener. That’s a good start, but to engage with people you have to be listening and asking great questions. It’s part art and part science.
If you want an example of someone who understands her community then visit Mayi Carles to see how she is creating content that engages and builds trust. You’ll notice that she creates content around branding and business building. All a perfect target market for her.