I had the honor of hosting a webinar for Pearl Capital on the concept of Niche Marketing for ISOs a few weeks ago (watch here if you missed it) and one of the core concepts I covered during the presentation was the importance of building an audience of people in your niche / target market.
On the surface it seems so obvious that it’s hard to imagine that anyone would need to be reminded of the importance of building such an audience. Yet, it has been my experience that very few financial professionals actually take the time to develop an audience that can serve as the bedrock for a thriving long-term business.
An Audience for My Business? What Do You Mean?
Your audience is a group of people who want to hear from you. They like you. They see you as an expert in your field. These are people who will subscribe to your email newsletter. They will follow you and your business on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social media account you have. If you start a podcast they’ll listen to it. If you are speaking at a conference they will be there in the seats.
Think about the above description of a vibrant business audience. Do you have one for your business? If not, let’s talk about building one.
How to Define An Audience for Your Business
Defining your audience starts with asking two questions:
- Who do you want as your customer today and in the future?
- Who might have influence over the purchasing decisions of your target customers?
These two questions sound pretty basic and logical but they’re more profound than they seem. As I covered in the Niche Marketing for ISOs webinar, most of your competitors are targeting a very generic “small business” market. As a result their message tends to get watered down and drowned out in a sea of blandness.
What you should do to stand out is develop a specific audience of people that you know you can serve better than anyone else. Then engage with them and share content with them that speaks to their problems and goals in a language that is specific to their business.
How to Find Your Audience
It’s never been easier to find and develop your audience. If teenage kids can build huge audiences on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, certainly you can build a sizable audience of business owners and influencers in your target market.
Let’s assume for the purpose of illustration that you want develop an audience of auto repair shop owners. How might you go about it?
Below is a list of easy places to begin:
Social Media – Most social networks have fairly robust search tools that allow you to find people who match your interests. For example, I found thousands of owners of automotive businesses within seconds on LinkedIn. Similarly on Facebook I found a group Automotive Repair Shops Networking that has 882 members. Think about what you could do if you invested an hour a day on social networks looking for your audience.
Forums – Every industry has forums online. The auto repair shop industry is no difference. A simple Google search for “auto repair shop owners forum” shows results like Auto Shop Owner, Automotive Management Network, and more.
Conferences – The auto repair industry has a bunch of regional and national conferences each year. Spend a little time Googling for conferences and you’ll find the ones that work for you. Nothing beats a handshake and a smile to establish a relationship.
Associations, Organizations, and Clubs – If there’s a niche or a target market you are eager to include in your audience, chances are there’s an association, organization, or club of those people. In our auto repair example there are several on the first page of our Google search. Note: Many organizations allow vendors, such as ISOs, to join as Associate Members.
How to Connect and Engage With Your Audience
As you begin to connect with your audience on social media, at conferences, in forums, and beyond it’s crucial that you listen to what they say and how they say it. What you’ll notice is that there are common themes. Most auto repair shop owners, particularly those operating independent shops, are dealing with the same issues. Make mental notes of what you’re learning.
There’s a term called “active listening” that almost all sales leaders use. The basic concept is that you listen to learn and then use what you heard from the prospect to continue to move the conversation along. This technique demonstrates that you care about the person, and your broader audience, that you are fully engaged. You can use active listening in person or online via social media or in forums. Simply, join conversations of interest to your audience and be active.
Warning! Don’t go for the close right away. That’s the surest way to scare people off. Just listen and take the conversation as it comes.
Lead with Content
The surest way to build and maintain a vibrant audience for your business is to be the financial professional who shares high quality content. Think about the people in your business life whose content you read, listen to, or watch consistently. You’re happy to see their Facebook posts, tweets, or LinkedIn posts. You open their email newsletters, like the one Pearl Capital publishes, eagerly because you know there’s always something interesting or useful there.
Sharing content with your audience is all about being helpful. Whether you are the one who creates the content or you are just re-sharing something you found on Flipboard, Nuzzel, or deBanked the effect is the same. Your audience will receive, from you, content that is interesting, helpful, entertaining, or actionable and they will remember you for it.
Building an audience for your ISO business is worth the effort. Make it part of your daily routine. Within the next few months you’ll start to see the fruits of your labor with easier referrals and more inbound leads coming your way.
If you have questions, feel free to reach out to Pearl Capital or me, Mike Langford, directly. We’re here to help and look forward to seeing you grow your audience and your business.