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What “Authentic” Audience Building Means [Audio]

You’ve heard it many times: the best way to market your business is to “develop an authentic relationship with your prospects and customers.”

But what does authentic marketing look like now? And what’s the difference between doing this for a brick-and-mortar business vs. an online business?

nancy-vanreece-200pxThese are the questions my new Nashville friend Nancy VanReece and I pondered a few weeks ago with Clark Buckner of TechnologyAdvice.

We met at Chago’s Cantina in Nashville, and over the sounds of a busy Mexican restaurant, we hashed out how to build an authentic relationship using the latest tools.

Listen in, and read below for more resources.

[Sorry: this audio has been removed from the host.]

Your business is offline

If your business is primarily offline, it’s easy to peer into the lives of your prospects and customers to try to understand what motivates them.

  • LinkedIn will show you what’s happening in their professional lives
  • Facebook will give you a peek into what’s happening in their personal lives
  • Twitter will tell you what’s on their minds
  • Instagram will show you a slice of the world around them

It might feel like you’re stalking them. I like to think of it as “benevolent stalking,” which allows you to find common threads from prospect to prospect and customer to customer.

Because once you understand their lives better, you’ll be in a better position to offer them solutions that will help them with their challenges.

Some examples:

  • Through Facebook, you discover that many of your customers are young moms, so you expend the children’s menu at your restaurant’s menu, and begin to offer crayons and large sheets of paper to families with kids whenever they come in. The result? More families visit and your place is full.
  • Through LinkedIn, you find out that many customers are frequent flyers. You decide to offer travel-sized bottles of your all-natural body care items, and they fly off your shelves.
  • Through Instagram, you notice many customers are living in apartments where they can’t paint the walls. You increase your inventory of wall decals, and in your marketing you mention that they apply and remove easily, and are a quick way to customize any space. And you can’t keep the wall decals in stock!

That’s how to apply benevolent stalking to an offline business. What about an online business?

Your business is online

When your business is mostly online, you face a particular set of challenges.

You can’t depend on making a personal, face-to-face connection with your audience.

This means you’ll be judged by things like consistency, for example.

Does your online business “show up” on a regular basis? That means regular appearances on social media; a consistent blog posting schedule; a “like clockwork” appearance in your customer’s inboxes.

Responsiveness is important, too.

When your customers have a problem, are you there to help immediately?

Every business runs into issues delivering their product or service at one time or another. The goal isn’t to eliminate issues completely (that’s impossible), but rather to have systems in place for handling issues when they happen.

Online businesses can use the same social media channels to get to know their customers.

There are a few other tools that will help you get to know your online customers.

  • Take a survey. Use tools like SurveyMonkey to ask your audience about their current challenges. If possible, use open-ended questions and a large text area where they can reply. This will allow them to answer in their own words.
  • Host a Q&A call. My favorite (free) tool for this is Ask for questions in advance, and invite your audience to attend a call where you answer them live. Not only will you get to know what’s on their minds, you’ll create a valuable piece of content you can later share.
  • Run an informal focus group. Put a call out to your online audience that you’d like to talk to them for 15-20 minutes. Ask them about their lives, their challenges, and what they enjoy about your online business and would like to see more off.

In-person authenticity, anyone? Where we can meet in 2015.

Whether your business is online, offline, or a combination of both, we have tools and techniques now that weren’t available ten years ago.

But there’s nothing as effective as meeting in person, is there?

That’s why I’d like to take a moment here to let you know where you can find me this year. I’d love to have a chance to meet in person.

The events below are on two different sides of the world: which one is closest to you?


Authority/Rainmaker in Denver, CO

I’ll be speaking about design at this two and a half day conference that gives you what you need to build a firm foundation under your online business. Join me and:

  • Dan Pink
  • Sally Hogshead
  • Henry Rollins
  • Danny Sullivan
  • Ann Handley
  • Chris Brogan
  • Bernadette Jiwa
  • Michael King
  • Joanna Lord
  • Joe Pulizzi
  • Sonia Simone
  • Jerod Morris
  • Sean D’Souza
  • Scott Brinker
  • Brian Clark

It’s a one-track event, which means attendees learn more about design, content, traffic, and conversion side-by-side. And the included three meals a day and two parties mean ample time to network with speakers and other smart attendees.

Learn more and register for Authority/Rainmaker here.

Problogger Training Event

Problogger Training Event August, 2015

This August, you’ll find me delivering two presentations at the Problogger Training Event in Australia’s beautiful Gold Coast region.

Learn more about my presentations here.

Get the latest event news and find out when tickets go on sale via the event Facebook page.

Show notes and resources

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is an online educator, author, keynote speaker, and the founder of BIG Brand System. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business.

Pamela Wilson

I want to help you take the next step. Pick your free workshop topic and let’s do this!

6 thoughts on “What “Authentic” Audience Building Means [Audio]”

    • Yes, be human! It’s what large corporations are all trying to do. We have an advantage because our businesses are smaller — it’s a lot easier to be human when there aren’t hundreds of you. 🙂

      Thanks so much for the conversation, Nancy. This was a lot of fun!

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