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I got an email this morning that even floored me, the most cynical person in the world.
It came from a PR person who was pitching me a new product – A shirt. Yes, a shirt. Nothing special about the shirt, it was simply a new style from a new designer. But here’s what gets me: The subject line of the email was: “Hi! Can I borrow your audience?”
(Insert blogging-car-skidding-to-a-halt sound here…)
Can you borrow my… Hold up… WHAT?
Can you “BORROW MY AUDIENCE?”
Are you serious?
OK. Not even taking into account the fact that my audience… IS AN AUDIENCE, and not, say, A SPATULA, no, you can’t “borrow my audience.”
Let’s understand something – My audience is the most important thing to me in my world, next to my wife and cat. I’ve spent YEARS and YEARS cultivating my audience. I’ve spent countless nights figuring out what my audience wants, how they want it, and what they’re going to want next. I’d take a bullet for my audience.
Without my audience, I have no business, I have no revenue, I have nothing.
My audience is my life. And you want to come over and “borrow it?” I don’t know you! Why don’t l let Michael Milken “borrow” my AmEx while I’m at it? I’m sure it’ll be fine.
You can’t borrow my audience – But you CAN build one of your own. Here’s how:
1) Understand that having an audience is a privilege, not a right. I say this all the time, and I’m saying it again – It’s like wearing spandex. That too, is a privilege, not a right. We’re born as free people with certain unalienable rights, but guess what – Having a bunch of people who will listen to you and buy from you is NOT one of them. You have to EARN that. Once you accept that you don’t just “get” an audience, like Jewish kids get a Bar-Mitzvah when they turn 13, the quicker you’ll start to understand how to get one.
2) An audience is built over time, and on one simple premise: Give them what they want. Audiences today are mobile. They can go anywhere, anytime, by clicking a mouse or scrolling off your site. Want them to listen to you, or even more, buy from you? Give them what they want, how they want it. They on Facebook? Reach out to them there. They like emailing you? Email them back. And for God’s sake, do it from an email that’s real – Like yours. Not “donotreply@I’manidiot.com”
3) How do you find out where the audience is? ASK THEM. You have their information! Try this! Go to your fan page and ask the question – “Hey – How do you like to be contacted by us when we have a special for you?” Then actually read the answers and act accordingly! This isn’t rocket science.
4) Have content that your audience actually WANTS. You know what would happen if I let every journalist “borrow” my audience to promote their crap? I wouldn’t have an audience! Why? Because audiences like people to STAY ON TOPIC. Imagine going to see Bon Jovi, and Jon Bon Jovi comes out and talks about tax shelters all night, and never plays “Living on a Prayer.” Not really what I paid for. Stay on topic – Had you, dear PR person, pitched me on topic about something relevant to my audience, I might have talked about it!
5) Finally, for all that’s good and holy, know what I talk about. That you pitched me on fashion is like pitching Britney Spears on child-safety. The simple act of knowing your audience will get you 5x the good attention you’d otherwise not get. Simply do some homework. There’s no excuse not to.
My audience? No. You can’t borrow it. Go get your own.