Yesterday, we talked about effective networking online. This sparked a discussion about the steps you should take in building that ever-important reputation. Piping up about the “fan-base philosophy,” garnered from years in the entertainment business, I decided to make today’s exercise about that. If you have read “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, you know that there’s a certain level of action required before something tips and interest comes in larger waves. That point can be achieved through consistent activities that create exposure for your business. In a word, you have to create value.
Think about a new rock band and how they build their fan base. Starting out, they might play a few local shows. They are seen in some way. It’s said that you can’t make money by sitting in your office. You need to get out, press the flesh, get known. That’s what these small shows are about and, for you, its what small talk is about. Attend a conference where your target market is, become interested in them. Now that the rock band has played a few local shows, and they’ve captured some information (in your case business cards) they send a track out. They’ve also been working their social media channels. They’ve been opening up on Facebook and Twitter, providing a behind the scenes to potential fans. They’ve been providing inspiration and giving away tickets to their next local show. Now they book some local interviews. They get themselves in the media, whatever media they can find. They find their angle an tell their story. They start going to the right parties. (In your world, that party might be the right LinkedIn Group – Staples runs a great one.) They don’t whip out their instruments and play at the party, they just go with the flow, they meet people. More interest collected, they provide their demo to the right people.
Here’s the key, though, they warm up the audience. Your opening song is simply having a conversation. You aren’t in it to pitch yet. You are in it to find out about them, add value and see if they are even pitch worthy. Imagine if this same rock band went to a party and immediately started pitching their music and (ooops) come to find out they are talking to the GM of a country music station. Once the fan base is there, you can communicate on a regular basis and be sure your fans get the newest stuff first. Providing exclusive treatment to your best customers is a great way to keep them listening to you for life.
Building a fan base is all about:
1) Identifying the right channels – Where is your target audience? Where are they most likely to be looking for you?
2) Providing value – What can you provide that’s cool and interesting? What’s your role at the party?
3) Nurturing the fandom – Keep giving, keep learning, keep LISTENING.
4) Learning how you can serve – Ask directed questions and continue to listen.
5) Playing your heart out – Once you can serve, serve with all your heart.
6) Develop an ongoing relationship – Don’t let this be a one night stand. Keep in touch! Check in. Continue providing value and you will be top of mind next time they need something.
Today’s Exercise: Where are you in fan base building? Are you at #1 where you are just figuring out who to talk to or are you learning how to listen? Identify where you are and start building, online and offline. What steps do you need to take to be the rock star of your own business?
Discuss this exercise in the comments below or if you need help, contact us.