I am sitting on the same sofa I’ve been stuck to since 4 PM that same day working on initiatives related to iGrind Naturally and my website. I was winding down when I decided to share some events I am planning with a well-known website that promotes events in my particular niche. After I submitted 3 of them, I close up shop for the evening. While checking my email from my phone before turning in for the evening, I notice I received an email from the site owner. I didn’t think about it at first because I assumed it was an auto responder that my event had posted. When I opened the email, fully expecting to delete it, it was actually an email from the site owner asking for clarification on my event as she did not think it fit in the mission of her niche site. I did my best to explain how I felt my event served the people who submitted events to her site. I received an email back that stated she was sorry but would not post my event to her site because it did not directly align with her vision for the site. I was obviously disappointed, so I did a little digging. There were two events listed on her site that did not directly align with the vision for her site. I pointed that out to her and stated that all I wanted was an equitable application of the mission to all events. But alas, my words did not sway her decision.
I admit, at this point I was really frustrated. So I started thinking, “What can I do?” I felt helpless and a little discouraged (I feel pretty deeply sometimes–smile). Then I was reminded of my recent coaching call with Montina “Sparkwisdom” Portis.
There were MANY nuggets she gave me in the call, but the nugget that has forever changed my approach to my brand forever…
I always ask myself (and God) what I’m supposed to learn from a particular experience–especially one that involves disappointment. The lesson in this particular course of events are:
Do not rely heavily on the audience of others to promote your events, products or platform: I am not advocating to not cross promote or ask others to help you promote your events to their networks. After all, this community is built on reciprocity. I often share or repost events planned by people in my network. But what this situation taught me was that avenues outside of my own community should not be my primary means of advertising.
Build your email list and thereby build your community and expand your platform!Heretofore, I have not always been strategic or deliberate in building my email list. It was mostly an afterthought that I would do when I wanted something to post to Instagram (smile). Had I been more focused on building my email list, I would have had an audience that could support and even share my content with others.
My niche isn’t everyone else’s niche: Thanks to Jonna (@naturallyglam on IG and my guest at iGrind Coffee Chat in Newport News, VA) for helping me see this as I was writing this post. I encourage others to be laser focused and that every customer isn’t their customer. Well, I learned today that this particular type of events wasn’t part of her niche. But my niche is…and so is yours. When we build our list of people that WANT to be connected to us because of the connection and content we create, then I believe we will see a market increase in our engagement and conversion.
So I have now become a believer! A convert! I have rededicated my efforts to BUILD MY LIST! And I want to push you to do the same.
When you build your list, you increase…
Your Community:My coach, Montina, many of the brands I follow and MANY other successful social media and information marketers rarely post their events or products on someone elses’s site. Their own community is so large and loyal that not only will they respond to a CTA (call to action) but they will encourage their audience to do so as well (sometimes without provocation). That is because they have been deliberate about building an authentic and consistent connection with their audience.
My challenge to you: plan to send at least one email a week of VALUABLE CONTENT to your community. Valuable content is not an event advertisement or a product. I am challenging myself to this standard as much as I am challenging you (smile).
Your Conversion: I’ve learned a few things while planning the iGrind Coffee Chats. 1) I have more of a reach outside of community than I do locally (one of my goals for 2014 is to connect more locally) 2) Because of the connections that I (and my special iGring Coffee Chat guests) have with our communities, people respond relatively quickly to our CTAs. Had I had a larger email list of followers (not just fans–there is a difference) I’m sure all the events would have filled up quickly. The ultimate goal of your email list is to convert them from not just being readers of your emails, but also doers. That “doing” does NOT always have to equate to direct sales. It could be sharing your post with others, watching a video, following you online or answering a question you pose at the end of a video or blog post.
My challenge to you: For one month, add at least one CTA to your email. On your social media platforms, add a CTA at least 3-4 times a week.
Your Credibility: I have friends, subscribers and followers who seek me out when they have a question or need guidance on something. This ranges from natural hair products to the best books to read on leadership. That is because I have credibility in their eyes. I am never short on opinions (I bet some of you wish I was sometimes LOL) and use my platforms to share them. Does that mean I have education or training in everything I talk about? Not at all. But YouTube and the blogosphere are two PERFECT examples of how people have build their credibility, platforms and expertise and thereby their lists and audience without always being trained experts in their niche. I was talking to a person I mentor today and they stated that they were going to wait until they graduated to start sharing information they have learned. I told them that not having a diploma has never stopped some people (including me) on talking about subjects they are not trained in (smile). I shared with them that they would start to see some shift in their audience interaction and conversion (to sales in this case) as they began to share their expertise with their audience. They would begin to be viewed as not just a person that sells a product, but a trusted EXPERT on how to use that product in order to solve their issue (which is really what experts do–solve problems and answer questions).
My challenge to you:How can you begin to share your expertise with others? Find at least one way you can solve someone’s problem or answer their question. When you’re online, answer at least 3-4 questions a week that you see someone post. Or use those questions as inspiration for a blog post or a video. Ex: If you see someone post about natural hair dryness, it may be a good time to post (or repost) a blog or video with your moisture balance regimen.
BUILDING YOUR LIST
The best practice when it comes to list building for most is to have some sort of “opt-in” offer. An opt-in offer answers the “what’s in it for me?” most potential audience members will have about joining your email list. I must admit I don’t have an opt-in offer–yet. I have struggled for weeks on what it could be, because I want it to be worth the person’s while!
In this scenario, I’m going to ask that you do as I say, and not as I do (smile). So start thinking about creating some things you can offer to people ON your email list and as an incentive to JOIN your email list. Here are a couple of examples for you:
A video (hair style, fashion, regimen, recipe, fitness tips, etc. that is NOT public on your channel)
A tip sheet (Ex: Top 10 ingredients to have in your kitchen cabinet to cook almost any meal)
A contest (They have to go to your website landing page and join your list)
Product Discount (only available to those on your list)
Early bird registration to an event (perhaps with a discount code)
My challenge to you is to
Increase your email list 25% by June, 2014
Double your email list by year end 2014
As Ed McMahon always said at the end of Star Search, “Shoot for the moon. And even if you miss, you’ll be among the stars!”
You know I can’t end this post without asking you for a CTA (lead by example right? smile). If this post has encouraged and helped you, please do at least one of the following:
Leave a comment below, preferably with one thing that you’re going to try in the next 30 days from the info shared in this post
Share this post with your audience on Twitter, FB, IG, etc.