Every one of us, when we create a new business, starts at zero. Zero content. Zero audience. Zero clients. And often, at those very early stages, all we can think about is, “How do I grow? How do I grow faster?”
But is that really the right question to be asking? Is that where we should focus our attention? Let’s take a look.
Building a big audience
We want to get to the big numbers. Big email list, huge follower counts, and a nice, long list of clients. I think for many of us, that’s the measure of success. That’s what it’ll take for us to feel we’ve “made it”.
And in the meantime, ironically, we use our small reach as an excuse to not take action in our business. Have you ever told yourself something like:
- “I’ll start emailing my list when there are at least 100 people on it…”
- “I’ll update my website after I’ve worked with a few more people…”
- “I’ll raise my prices when I have a waiting list…”
Our “small” audience sizes stop us from doing the very things that could help us grow our business and reach more people. Instead of doing those things, we delay and wait for our audiences to grow first, as though we need the permission of those people in order to run our business. That we need the “proof” of a large following before we can do anything.
Using a small audience as an excuse
I’m not going to go deep into why we might choose to delay taking action because of a small follower count or whatever. But I think it’s basically a habit we’ve formed —from our parents, from school, from the corporate world. Before we do something meaningful, we like to be told it’s okay. That someone else agrees it’s a good idea.
But we’re business owners. And for the sake of the businesses we’re out to create, it’s a habit I think we should really work to to break. To help you do this, I want to take a look at what growing an audience really means, from a branding perspective.
Your brand is a relationship
I believe your brand can be summed up as the relationship you have with your audience. There are a lot of reasons why I like defining a brand this way. For one thing, a relationship can be a very strong thing even when only a few people are involved. (After all, a relationship can be life-changing, even if it’s only between a couple people, right? Although hopefully you’ve got more than one client.)
What’s important isn’t the number of people who know you, but how they feel about you. It’s that buzzword — engagement. When you have a strong brand, not only do people know about you, but they consider your business irreplaceable.
The information you provide, the services you offer, that personal touch, your unique perspective… they can’t get it anywhere else. They wouldn’t even bother looking. They want you. This is what it means to have a strong brand.
So, what’s a strong brand?
Well, a strong brand is having a strong relationship with your audience. And here’s the thing about that: if the strength of your brand is a measure of the strength of the relationship you have with your audience, then you can have a very strong brand even with a very small audience.
And you know what? If you take the time and effort to nurture strong connections between you and the people who have joined your audience — whatever that might mean (following you on Instagram, joining your email list, becoming a client, etc.) — then you are building a stronger brand. You’re raising your brand equity. That’s adding a lot of value to your business.
Suddenly, building a strong brand is easier
When you understand that a strong brand = strong relationships and you currently have a small audience, the news gets even better. Because the smaller your audience, the easier it is to nurture strong connections with them. You can be more personalised. You have the time to answer all the questions that come your way, and to provide unexpected value and personal touches.
And then, what you’ll find is that a strong brand grows organically. When people love what you do and get a lot of value from you, they want to share that with other people they know. They’ll think of you when they meet someone looking for what you offer.
And so, your audience grows.
Measuring your brand
You’ve got to stop looking at the numbers. Follower counts are sometimes referred to as “vanity metrics” for good reason. They look nice, but they can also be shallow. They’re not a measure of how strong your brand is, and your brand is a far more valuable thing to be focused on.
Of course, your brand is a more difficult thing to measure. How do you evaluate the relationship you have with your audience? Well, for that, I like this quote from Seth Godin: “If you disappeared tomorrow, would the customers you call on miss you?”
It doesn’t matter if your audience is “small” by your definition. You’ve got to be working on building that high level of engagement with them. They deserve all the attention! They’ve chosen you, without the social proof of a big audience. They resonate with what you’re doing, and you have the opportunity to make some of your most loyal brand ambassadors out of them. So, focus on them. Not the audience you don’t have yet.
If you want some help creating strong connections with your audience, no matter the size, find out more about working with me here!
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