Most are unfortunately. The analogy of the haystack is relevant because the challenge is to the find the needle in the haystack (your customer or client). For the most part we all accept this because almost all the platforms you use to gain attention and add followers work this way. You are trying to get the people who are interested in a topic to be interested in your content on the topic. And then you are trying to get those people interested in buying a product or service relating to that topic. In order to find the ones that would make that purchase from you, you must pluck them out of a larger group of people. In order to have a larger quantity of sales you must have a larger number of people to who are willing to give their attention to you while you pitch. Oh there, I basically told you something you may have already known.
What I’m suggesting is to ask yourself one more question when you come up with a new strategy or when you are about to start a new project to increase your audience size.
WILL IT EXPAND THE HAYSTACK OR INCREASE THE DENSITY OF THE NEEDLES?
It makes sense as you create more content and your business and brand develops that you will get better at attracting your potential customers. What I have noticed is people trying to increase their audience size without focusing very specifically on the right people who want or need their product or service.
By doing that they have created two interesting problems for themselves:
- They feel satisfied that their audience size has grown and when they divert their energy on to sales, they find out there isn’t many more buyers in their larger audience. Business tends to taper off when this happens.
- They have to work harder to find their customers within a larger audience, and the whole endeavour becomes more time consuming for an increase that isn’t directly proportional to their investment. Engagement and open rates drop making it less efficient.
Because the digital age has removed most of the expense or reach and duplication, people may argue that as long as you audiences is growing you sales will increase in some way, no matter what. But my point is…
IT SHOULD BE EASIER TO INCREASE SALES AS YOUR BUSINESS GROWS.
Vanity numbers are just that, and they mostly do not translate into sales.
Here’s a fable I want to share with you as an example:
I witnessed a very impressive and respected coach in their field start to grow their business online. They were timid at first and during that time their only created content that was about very specific things they truly knew about. Their following grew through social media; their email list size grew to just over 500 people. Engagement all around was good and email open rates were fantastic. When they hosted a webinar a high percentage of their followers showed up and when an offer was presented, sales were brisk. They became more ambitious with their goals. After quickly reviewing the math it seemed clear, increase the following and sales will grow just as much. THE MISTAKE HAPPENS RIGHT HERE. They continued to produce content, but they broadened their talking points, and they got involved in more projects and events that were not as highly niched in as before. Their audience grew to over 4 times its size, capping at just over 3000 people on their email list.
This investment didn’t create a 4x result, it actually only created a 10% increase but with all the extra time invested in growing the audience and marketing to them, the result was a loss. After doubling their workload and coming away with a small increase, their hourly earning rate went way down.
Their new audience wasn’t niched in. When they tried to sell a product or service, it was not aligned with the people they had acquired from broader sources. They had in fact gained people who were niche adjacent, and there products and services could not possible help them, so the want and need for them was absent. They continued to rely on their new large audience for future sales, figuring their growth efforts were good enough for now. It eventually stalled out their business because there weren’t any new efforts made to add those important new high potential customers (the needles).
There are a few simple rules I would follow to avoid this happening to you:
- Always makes sure your content, speaking points and brand are completely in line with the product or service you sell.
- Never stop reaching or catering to the your very very specific niche/audience.
- Continue to refine you message to capture the attention of the people who need you the most.
- Only participate in events that will increase engagement for your special business.
I use to be impressed with the size of some peoples audiences, but I have learned that it’s not an accurate indicator for how their business is doing. Nor does it prove they are actually good at what they do. So ask yourself the question “WILL IT EXPAND THE HAYSTACK OR INCREASE THE DENSITY OF THE NEEDLES?” the next time you endeavour to grow your audience to increase sales.