Build Your Own Audience and Drive Sales
Wouldn’t it be nice if all of your ideal customer prospects knew about your company and you could reach out to them anytime? And, wouldn’t it be great if the people that influence your customer prospects also were paying attention and you could put your messaging in front of them on a regular basis? This is what it means to have an audience. It is more than a bunch of leads. It is people that are listening and have interest in what you say.
Don’t Be Forced to Rent Audiences – BYOA
There was a time when you had to rent audiences. Business-to-business (B2B) marketers were beholden to industry trade publications, national business publishers and trade show operators if they wanted to get the word out about their product. That meant playing by their rules and paying their prices. It often meant paying for access to an audience even when there was legitimate news to cover and you gave up control over the messaging. Your well-crafted efforts at positioning were always at the risk of an editor’s whim.
Too often, B2B marketers still face this reality today. Thankfully there is another way. If you are a technology industry CEO or CMO, your top marketing priority should be to build your own audience (BYOA). This audience can become an asset as valuable as your product and even more flexible. You may still rent audiences from publishers occasionally to gain access to new people and build your own list. However, the objective should be to funnel the right people into the marketing channels you own so they can self-select into your audience. That audience becomes a critical tool to accelerate customer growth.
Building Your Audience is Building Your List
Most companies will have two types of audience: active and passive. Active audience will track your activities closely. Passive audiences will be open to information about your company at certain times based on context, but you must continually reach out to them. Both audience types have one thing in common: they only have measurable valuable to you if you know who they are and can track them. That means you need to have a way to capture and manage a list of your audience.
Your ideal marketing list should primarily represent people that:
- Fit your primary target customer profile
- Have the potential to reach and influence your primary target customers directly
- Can help shape an overall industry narrative favorable to your positioning
Your Audience Exists to Help Sales, But You Must Provide Value
Your audience serves as a tool help sales but they are not there to simply serve you. It is a voluntary relationship. They opt-in initially and every time you touch them through an email, phone call or content post on your website, audience members can choose to stay, ignore or abandon you. An audience member will initially engage with you and then stick around only if you provide value. If you barrage them with repeated product pitches that benefit only you, they will leave. Others will never arrive.
Providing value is the key to both building your audience and keeping it engaged. This typically involves providing something of educational value. However, you have to keep in mind that not all of your audience members have the same needs. Most of your prospects are concerned primarily about their parochial interests. What information are you providing that helps them better understand or do their job? What are their peers doing or thinking or favoring? By contrast, influencers may be more interested in market information, trends and the rationale for changing the status quo. This is where segmentation becomes important for both growing and maintaining the audience that can help drive your sales. It also can provide guidance on how, when and to whom you distribute content.
How to Use a List for Sales: Air Cover, Bombing Raids and Paratroopers
In business, sales represent the infantry and marketing the air force. The first thing an audience does for sales, is provide air cover and hopefully air superiority. When your target prospects and influencers look up into the sky, is your presence visible and important?
Air cover in marketing is distributing your point of view, brand messages, and evidence to your audience. It helps shape thinking about your company and whether your solution space and your specific approach are viewed positively or negatively. These messages are often for the entire audience and distributed on a regular cadence. If you provide a consistent serving of educational content that your audience members value, you can slip in some direct appeals about your product without generating significant list attrition.
Bombing Raids are more targeted. They are for a specific segment of your audience and typically include a specific promotion to drive sales engagement. These forays are risky and you might lose some audience members, but they are a critical way to harvest the value of your list by driving some prospects into the buying process.
Paratroopers are even more targeted. Based on intelligence gathered from your audience interaction, you send messages directly to the prospect to drive engagement in a sales process. Since the prospect is already an audience member that previously expressed interest in your content or company, it is not a cold call. There is some awareness and relationship established. You are not starting from scratch. You already gained their attention and interest and are now determing if there is an opportunity for conversion to customer.
At a high level, there is a difference between what interests an influencer and a prospective customer. There are also differences among prospective customers. If the messaging is relevant to both, then you have an air cover campaign. If only one of these groups or a smaller segment of your prospects care about a particular topic, then you conduct a bombing raid. If it is localized to a specific individual or organization, you employ paratroopers and go for it.
The Value of Building Your Own Audience
The point is that an audience provides you with several options for engaging with prospective customers and influencers, shaping their thinking and drawing them into a buying process. You can reach people directly without having to pay for a booth or speaking slot at a conference, or buying advertising in a trade publication. It is your asset to leverage and not someone else’s audience that they invested to build. It is also targeted to people that care about the topics most important to you. When employed properly, your audience can be your most robust source of sales leads and help boost your win rate.
Tomorrow we will discuss how to build an audience.