Start building an audience now — even if you have nothing to sell
A regret that many business owners have is that they didn’t start building their audience sooner.
So if you think you might want to start a business one day, I recommend that you start growing your audience now.
Just start sharing on your social media profile the ideas you come across that are interesting to you. Summarize articles or books you’ve read. Share videos you liked. If there’s something you disagree with, say why — start practicing your muscles of saying what you believe.
If you have a sense of what your passion is, or what your future business might be, start a Facebook Business Page right away. Just use your own name — build your personal brand — you can always change your Page Name later. Start posting content about your passion there, whether it’s sharing other people’s content, or as you get more courageous and creative, start posting your own content. Whatever you do, start now.
You can do this whether it’s on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Medium, iTunes (podcasting), Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest. Whichever platform you enjoy using, just start.
Then, if and when you are ready in the future to promote a product or message or cause, your audience will be there to receive it.
The fantasy of “Instant Promotion”
Some business owners have the fantasy of “instant promotion” — that they’re able to get sales right away, when they have no audience to begin with.
Instant promotion does work if:
- You sell a very mainstream service, something that most people buy, e.g. tax preparation.
- You have the means to start with a large advertising budget, e.g. $1,000 per month.
If instead you have a non-mainstream service (life coach, relationship counselor, transformational facilitator, etc.) and you only have maybe $100/month advertising budget, then you need to start building your audience as soon as possible.
Don’t expect to wait until you’re ready to sell something, and then you’ll “just” post it on Facebook or tweet it out, and expect clients to sign up. If no one knows who you are, no one’s going to buy from you.
Good copywriting and branding won’t save you either
Maybe you think — “I’ll just hire a copywriter or marketing expert, and they’ll help me create amazing messaging and branding” — this is another fantasy.
I’ve seen it again and again: even amazing marketing messaging and branding, if it’s not tied to the feedback of (and relationship with) your existing audience, if you have one!, usually is a huge disappointment and waste of time and money.
If however you build an audience first, then you can get to know them better and base your marketing message & branding on what you’ve observed about them, and then you might be able to get clients very soon after you begin your business.
What it means to “have an audience”
- You’ve been sharing helpful content on social media, and you notice that you have several dozen (or more) people who react to (and engage with) your content on a regular basis.
- Or, you’re a good networker, and have dozens of friends and colleagues that you have supportive relationships with, who would likely help you promote a new business when it’s time to do so.
Ideally you have both, but be mindful to start at least one of these efforts as soon as possible.
My favorite way is authentic content marketing and building an audience around your “personal brand” (your name, your thoughts, your authentic style) so that you can be flexible, and pivot to having any kind of business you want to in the future.
Don’t wait until you figure out what your niche is, before you start building your audience. Start creating a network/audience for your personal brand now.
This is a fantasy:
- Figure out your business idea or niche → Promote it and get customers
(Unless you have a mainstream service and a large advertising budget.)
It actually works more like this:
- Build an audience → Get to know them → Create your marketing message and offerings → Get customers/clients
I’ve written about this here:
Robots are taking human jobs
Given the rapid growth of artificial intelligence and automation, human beings will have an increasingly hard time finding a job. This is not happening in the distant future. It is happening in the next 10–15 years.
If you develop entrepreneurial skills, and build your own audience, you’ll be in a better position to create your own job, your own right livelihood, your own meaningful work, instead of hoping someone will tell you what to do.
For everyone who wants meaningful work in the future, it is imperative to start building your own audience now.
It’s like the old saying:
When’s the best time to have planted a tree? 20 years ago.
When’s the next best time? Today.
Your audience, your personal brand, doesn’t have to take 20 years to build. But if you start today, you will be in a much better position a year.
Whether or not you have a business already, start growing your audience now.
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