One of the main dogmas preached from Silicon Valley is that you need to validate your idea and then build your brand. There's more to this caveat, but for now we'll keep it simple.
As I write this, a well-known story comes to mind. The story of two young friends who couldn't pay their rent and were looking for ways to earn money. Fortunately, it was a lucky day when a conference in the area brought many visitors to the city. The hotels soon filled up and people were standing around contemplating where to find a hotel. The friends noticed the commotion from their window, looked at each other and soon realized, here was their opportunity to find money to pay their rent. Their apartment was big enough to accommodate three more beds, they said, why not offer this to some of those people, solve our money worries while helping them. So they went to the store, bought three air mattresses, blew them up and placed a sign in front of the apartment - Air Bed and Breakfast. And, that, folks is how Airbnb was birthed. In December 2020, Forbes predicted that Airbnb revenue would be valued at around $75 billion in 2021.
Airbnb found an audience amidst a crowd of people looking for a place to sleep. Most people and companies already have brands, products and services to offer to consumers, and all they need to do is conduct marketing activities to find an audience. But what if, like Airbnb, you have nothing, no idea, no brand, no audience?
Gary Bencivenga recognized as the best copywriter in the United States, in his Marketing Bullet letters, explained how to look for the 'Red Shirt". What does he mean? He explained when people look out into a crowd, all they see are a great number of people jostling each other to find a place out or in. In that crowd, he said, if you look for one 'red shirt', soon your eyes will focus and many more red shirts will appear.
What Airbnb and Gary Bencivenga stories tell, is how to find your audience then build your brand and they make it look easy to do so in a crowd of people in the real world. But in today's world, technology is the preferred tool used to conduct almost anything you are looking for. Here you can find your red shirt, build your brand and much more. Let us explore how this is done online.
Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, YouTube, Podcast and all other sources of online communication are full of people eager to share information. Choosing to connect on one or more of these platforms brings you in contact with communities, each with their own conversations, topics, needs and issues. Focus on those which align with your interests such as hobbies, age, geographic location, income, educational level, profession, marital status and more. Set your focus on the group of your choice. Those in your target group may not all necessarily act on your messaging. You may then need to be specific on who you want in your group. To this end, further separation by personalized messages can bring meaningful connections to build an audience and provide later benefits.
Find the Audience
It is fun to connect with people. It is all about making new friendships online. Tell stories, share a personal experience, relate to an event, piggyback on a previous speaker's remark or theme, point out something important about the audience or the current setting, ask a provoking question, state a fact that is troubling, amusing or remarkable. In other words, it is similar to sitting in on a social event where you contribute to the gathering. You have now set the stage to move forward in building your brand by creating content.
How can you find content that will relate to each and everyone of your audience? It is not easy for not everyone will be interested in the same topic or stories as mentioned above, that your target group may not all be on the same wave-length. One approach would be to conduct a survey, then build on that and simply ask your audience for feedback. This will enable you to appeal to most of your audience, if not all. And creating content has other benefits. What are those benefits? Let's find out.
Trust. It is very important for your audience to get to know you. In crafting content which relates or appeals to your audience you are demonstrating that you understand their needs and desires and you are spending your time to go above and beyond to helping them. You really care.
Loyalty. When you display genuine sincerity in their predicament they will return to you for more.
Credibility. Your content is a proof of your ability in helping them achieve their needs and desires. It is an incredible action to take in brand-building. The human spirit is not to be underestimated.
Build your Brand
The final step is to build your brand and in creating content you are doing just that. You engaged with your audience, you delivered WOW experiences, you added value to the things they love to do while spending YOUR time with them online. So it is not all about writing, it is sharing stories, your favorite Ads, strange or funny articles which resonate and perhaps just chat about what's the latest news in the world. It is a customer journey with meaningful discourse.
Meaningful discourse is the cornerstone to rewarding you with the trust, loyalty, credibility, inspiration, while raising awareness of your validity, and simultaneously positioning yourself in a subtle way to gain a competitive advantage, as you are finding and connecting with your Audience in Building your Brand.