Winning the Culture War Ep. 004 - Systems for Audience Growth
This opening 7-part Mini-Series is entitled: Online Strategies to Change the World.
01 - What Makes a Platform?
02 - Examples of Great Platforms
03 - Creating Great Content
04 - Systems for Audience Growth
05 - Welcome Email Subscribers
06 - Basic Income Strategies
07 - Advanced Income Strategies
Welcome to Winning the Culture War with Cody Libolt.
This podcast is designed to help you become extraordinarily skilled in communication, especially if you are a Christian and a Culture Warrior. I want you to be a loud advocate of truth in whatever sphere you are able to have an impact.
We’re in an opening 7-part mini-series called Online Strategies to Change the World.
The question today is:
How do you attract an audience for your platform?
To create an online platform is like planning a feast.
But how do you get people to show up? We’re looking at the five main pieces you will need to put in place in order to attract an audience for your platform.
As we saw last time, you will need the following five things:
A Funnel Leading to an Offer
We looked at the first two items on that list in the previous episode. We pick up today with Good Networking.
Write a simple plan for networking with other content creators.
Each week make it your goal to take at least one step toward the long term goal of meeting content creators for the eventual purpose of collaborating and getting seen by new audiences.
Networking will give your project more exposure and credibility, and you will have the chance to get to know people doing work similar to yours. Your networking time each week could be as simple as talking with one person on the phone or recording one guest interview. Or you could join an online group, such as a Facebook or LinkedIn group and then post some comments and read some comments.
If you find some people you’re interested in possibly getting to know, write down their names in a “Networking” document. Eventually, you may want to make a system for putting a bit more work into building your network. But at the beginning it would be fine to start by simply marking on your calendar that once each week you will intentionally put yourself out there in some concrete way, as described by the ideas above.
As you talk with people, follow your interests organically. You may end up developing new friendships. You may find that one or another online community is especially beneficial to you. It is hard to know ahead of time what the outcome will be when you put yourself out there and talk to new people. When you meet people, take a mindset that aims to be friendly and generous. You are not looking for a specific outcome, but you are open to learning about the other person and what they do. If you grow your network consistently (even slowly) you will eventually meet more and more people who are highly relevant to your goals.
The best material I have seen on how to be intentional about growing your personal network is in Michael Port’s outstanding book Book Yourself Solid. Use that book if you decide to step up your networking at some point. For now, you have the basics.
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“What gets measured, gets improved.”
- Peter Drucker
It’s important to be able to see the effect your efforts are having. What are your numbers? And what is your system for reviewing those numbers over time?
Here are some numbers to be tracking at the beginning:
Social Media Connections (Followers, Fans, etc.)
Total Email Subscribers
Later, you could add more metrics, depending on what is useful:
Facebook Page Reach
New/Total Email Subscribers
Email Open/Click Rate
Time/Money Spent on Project by Month
Income from Project by Month
As you build your systems, you’ll figure out the best way to access all that information. From the beginning you should start the habit of tracking something. Put a system in place for reviewing and making new plans based on what you learn.
Depending on what season you are in with your project, you might find it helpful to log some of the analytics data on a monthly basis. Look for patterns and signs about what actions are working best to grow your audience. Make adjustments to your strategies based on what you learn. Especially be on the look out for spikes in interest (as measured by comments or shares). When you identify a spike, log it. Then try to generalize about what went right and what can be repeated.
A Funnel Leading to an Offer
In the previous episode we talked about the importance of a marketing funnel. All the online materials, whether it is social media, podcast episodes, videos, a website, etc, almost always point people toward a form to capture the reader’s email address. A new email subscriber then receives a series of welcome emails and regular email updates over time. This entire process—a person discovering an online platform and becoming interested and eventually joining the newsletter and hopefully making a purchase—is called a marketing funnel.
A typical funnel looks like this:
Publish free content online (Website, social media, video, etc.)
Lead Magnet (Made publicly discoverable wherever you have a web presence)
Email Capture (A form on your website that integrates with an email marketing tool like Mailchimp or ConvertKit)
Email Newsletter (This is sent by email marketing software. New subscribers receive an automatic welcome email series that delivers the lead magnet and also introduces the offer)
Offer (This is how to make income with a platform. Offers typically include something like a book, a digital course, coaching, or consulting. Later we will look at these income options in more detail.)
A funnel can seem like a lot to conceptualize, much less to build.
Creating a funnel requires assembling quite a handful of tools and pieces. To demystify funnels, we’ll look at a generic example of a completed funnel in depth and then we’ll look at how you can go about making one.
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For this next segment we’re looking at a simple and elegant example of how you can build a funnel.
This is a style that is used by many authors or author/speakers or people who have one or two online courses, but who are fairly early with creating their online funnel. So this could apply to you. The typical author/speaker website would be a good model to follow.
You can find a lot of authors online who are doing this. I’m not going to name a specific author right now. But I’m just going to show you the types of things that you will typically see.
Suppose you’re somebody who is advocating for a political viewpoint.
You have a book about it.
You offer speaking engagements about it
You have a website.
How does that all work together?
People will typically discover you on Twitter or on Facebook first. So, in order for people to be able to discover you, you need to be creating new social media content—at least several content pieces per week.
What should you post? It could be as simple as some social media posts in which you explain a quick tip, or in which you link to one of your YouTube videos or podcast episodes or articles.
Once people find you on social media, they need a way to click to get to your website and then get on your email list.
At your website, if somebody clicks over, it needs to say something like: “Here’s why I made this platform.” Your website needs to immediately answer that kind of question for people. It needs to show what kind of value a visitor gets if he joins the email list. Make sure you’re answering that question and you’re doing it right away (above the fold) on your website.
When somebody joins your email list, are you going to give them a free PDF? Or perhaps are you going to give them a short email course, such as 3-4 email lessons in a row, day by day? It could say: “Welcome to the such-and-such course. This is a simple email course, and you're going to get a lesson each day.” This is a simple concept any author can create.
End Your Email with a Call-to-Action (CTA)
At the bottom of each of your emails, say something like this:
“By the way, thanks for checking out this material. If you’d like to take it to the next level, click here to get my digital course. Also, if you’d like to talk to me about booking a speaking engagement, hit reply to this email.”
If you are on the email list of several other authors, speakers, coaches, or anybody that’s doing an online platform, look at their emails to see how they onboarded you. (If you want, use a new email address. That way, you can receive their original emails that come when a person first joins their list.)
Pay attention to their subject lines and how they talk about what they are offering. Notice how soon it is that most newsletters mention to you that they actually do work for people. It doesn’t mean they’re saying, “Hey, click here to buy now and get 50% off!” (or something overly salesy), but, right away when you get on one of these authors’ email lists, they make it clear that they are somebody who is in business. That’s important, because that assures people don't feel like they've been led down a primrose path and then suddenly seen a message of: “Ah ha! We’ve flipped it on you. Now we’re trying to sell you something!”
Make it clear from the beginning that your project is a business. And make it clear from the beginning that you have something to offer. Use words as simple as this: “By the way, there is a book. Click here to get information about the book (or about the digital course or consulting or something).”
A Stellar Example
I saw one author/speaker doing this really well, so I’ll tell you how he did it.
His first email starts by welcoming the subscriber and it delivering the promised training. After the subscriber gets a short, thoughtful training, the email transitions and says:
“A Request: I’d like to hear from you. What are your biggest goals related to this and that (about the topic of his project).”
And then it gives a salutation: “Until next time!”
But, after that, it says: “Plus: Whenever you're ready, here are 4 ways that I can help you achieve X goal.”
(And the email lists out several things for sale.)
When I saw this email, I was wowed.
It makes the offer feel friendly. It transitions smoothly from the overall content to “A request: I’d like to hear from you…” By doing this, the email started establishing the relationship. It positions the author as someone you would want to talk with and as someone who could likely be useful to you in a way that is more direct than merely being a reader.
Only after all of that does the email say, “Plus, whenever you’re ready...”
That’s how the email transitions to the offers, such as working with the author one-one-one, getting his live or remote speaking, or getting his various books or trainings.
This approach is elegant and functional. I highly recommend that you do something like it if you’re just starting out.
In a future episode, we’ll dig more into how to create an offer.
But know this: It’s not as complicated as you might tend to make it.
You don’t have to be an expert in order to figure out how to offer a short training course online that people will want to pay for. You can deliver it through a freemium shopping cart system like GumRoad.
It’s not all that hard to get people to want to call you and say: “Hey, let’s talk. I would like you to coach me through this thing or build this thing for me.” (a.k.a. to beginning working as a coach or a freelancer/consultant.)
Getting Over the Awkwardness
If if feels awkward to be the kind of person who is selling something or offering something, reframe it in your mind. What you are really doing is delivering the following message:
“Hey, I’ve created this free material for you, and here’s how you access it. Oh, and by the way, if you would like extra work from me—extra help and value from me—here is the way that you can get a little bit for this price, and here is the way you can get more for this price.”
You are offering to extend the relationship in a way that makes sense to offer to strangers. You’re not pressuring people that they must take that step. But you’re letting people know who you are and what you do. Nobody is going to begrudge the fact that you offer that kind of help—or that you’re the kind of person who has set it up so that it is so easy for people to see how you can help them.
You’ve now seen how a funnel works and how it leads to an offer.
In the next episode, we’ll look more closely at what an offer needs to include and how to write one, plus how to set up the funnel that points to it.
Alright that is a wrap for now. There’s much more to come. And if you’re looking for personal input on your project, please email me at Cody@CodyLibolt.com. I would love to talk with you.
Thanks for listening today.
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