How to Build an Audience to Hear Your Story
The great business strategist, Peter Drucker, wrote "there are two and only two objectives of business - create a customer and innovate." Customers come from audiences who hear the story of a business or product which influences them to make a purchase.
Without an audience there is no story about your brand and there is no customer creation. A marketer without audience is mute. These are things I believe are true, immutable, and foundational to the work of every mosaics business. I think you should too.
Audiences can be assembled in many ways, for many purposes, and each can have different characteristics of the others. Yet, their attention can be focused from time to time on a single mosaics business.
A very important way to categorize your audiences and audience development activities is to distinguish between proprietary and rented audiences. There are other ways to segment audiences that we will cover in another article.
A proprietary audience is the most valuable. It is made up of people who have elected to give you a way to contact them and no other party stands between your communications. An example of a proprietary audience is a group of people that have signed up to receive your newsletter.
Another audience that could be loosely considered proprietary are some social media audiences. They make a connection with a mosaics business and the communications may flow freely, but a third party media is used i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Proprietary audiences require significant efforts to build and thereby take a good deal of time to assemble, but they are always there and have a more familiar relationship than a rented audience.
A rented audience is one that has a relationship with a third party like a publisher which includes search engines, content websites, newspapers, etc. The publisher rents some space in the media to the mosaics business willing to pay to reach the publisher's audience.
With digital media, a large rented audience can be hearing your story in a matter of minutes. You may also convert the rented audience to your proprietary audience (which I recommend).
There isn't really building associated with a rented audience. Once you can describe the profile of the audience you want to reach, you can then find and pay the media that can best put your story in front of them.
Say you want to teach regular mosaics classes in Boulder, CO. You know your target audience is women over age 35 who live within a 1-hour drive of your studio. And, you don't yet have a proprietary audience. Some possibilities for getting your story to the target audience are:
- Facebook ads, Google display ads, and Google search ads
- Facebook groups about mosaics, crafts, and activities in Boulder
- Local print media ads
- Newsletters and websites of art galleries, craft and hobby shop media, churches, etc. in Boulder
Once you turn some of the rented audience to customers, you now have new proprietary audience members as well as paying students.
The focus of your proprietary audience development should be an email list (until technology and culture change it). The email list should be used to provide value to the audience while keeping your mosaics business visible. If you succeed in providing value to the audience you will almost certainly create credibility for your your business too.
There are both paid and organic options. Paid options are generally ways to accelerate the growth of the list.
Your organic list development starts with your customers and clients. Always collect an email with a purchase if you don't already have it.
The most common method used for list development is offering a newsletter. If your budget allows you to promote it entirely through paid media and convert the paid audience to your subscribers, you're all set. However, if organic promotion is part of the plan, here are some ideas.
- Put a blog on your website and publish consistent content that is helpful to your target audience.
- Make a subscription page that tells why people should subscribe to your newsletter
- Promote the newsletter on as many of your web pages as you can with call-to-action and link to the subscription form.
- Promote the blog and newsletter articles on all of your social media pages (we will discuss building those audiences next).
In addition to offering a newsletter, you can publish ebooks, reports, videos, podcasts, etc. You can also build an opt-in list by hosting workshops, shows, and other events that require email registration. We call the newsletter and all of these other types of content (except the blog), premium content.
In order to promote your premium content well on social media (Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram may give you the best results), you need to build a big social media audience. Again, you can accelerate its development with paid promotion, but we recommend a careful watch of the results. So, for organic (non-paid) social media audience development here are some ideas:
- Target connections with people that belong in your audience not other mosaic artists that do things similar to you. For example, if you specialize in kitchens & baths your audience should be interior designers, architects, home builders, and other people who are either likely to want (and afford) your art as well as others who can refer you to them.
- Participate in groups being sure to give helpful information to its members.
- Post high quality photos and videos of your projects or classes.
- Invite people to connect with you. They may reciprocate.
- Occasionally share content (10%-25% of posts) that has nothing to do with your business, but is of interest to the target audience.
- In offline conversations, ask your friends to share your posts.
- Be seen every day.
Finally, learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is not the be-all and end-all that it has sometimes been made out to be, but it is free and can get people to your blog where they can become a part of your proprietary audience.