This is part 2 in the 4 (+1) part series on the 4 essential activites you need to focus on when starting & growing your business as a solopreneur. Part 1 of the 4 essential business hyper growth activities.
Activity #2 is ‘list-building’ … but it’s not
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it a million times:
You must build a list
well, are you?
In theory, it’s really (I mean: REALLY) simple:
- put an ‘ethical bribe’ in front of prospective clients
- if they’re interested, they give you their email address in exchange for said ethical bribe
- you start mailing them cool stuff and make sales
and yet, despite this incredible simplicity … if you are like far too many others … you’re not, right?
The reasons are pretty almost always the same. Things like:
- “I don’t know what to ‘bribe’ them with“
- “I don’t like this ‘bribing’ thing, sounds ‘sleazy/salesy’ to me“
- “I don’t know when to send content, and when to sell” (or: “when (if at all) do I start selling?“)
- “what if they don’t like what I’m sending them/what if they hit the spam-button/what if ….“
- (and seemingly everybody’s favourite) “I don’t know what to email them after they sign up“
Now, there’s little point me saying: “but look, it’s easy, just do it“, or “here’s a list of 17 different ‘bribe’ ideas“, or even “here’s a set of email templates you can use to follow up”
(if that were useful, people wouldn’t be asking those questions, because answers to all that stuff already exist).
My view is that the real problem (and hence the source of the solution) is the focus on ‘list-building‘.
If you tell your brain to go “build a list”, it’ll look for ways to “build a list”. (see top of the page for the recipe)
But, a “list” isn’t really what you’re after, isn’t it?
Really, what you’re after is a way of communicating with one or more prospective clients.
The (email)-list is just the vehicle in this case.
So, instead, we want to tell our brains to find ways of communicating with prospective clients.
And as communication involves at least 2 parties, and at least one of them has to be willing to listen …
… I’ll borrow from Seth Godin, and simply suggest you view the whole ‘list-building-dilemma’ from the ‘permission-based marketing’ perspective:
ask yourself this:
what has to be in place so prospective clients give you their permission to email them on a regular basis?
(Obviously, the aim is to get to “Permission 2.0” – we want to get to the point where they actually WANT to get your emails)
But the overall mission is now pretty simple:
when deciding on how to ‘build your list’, keep asking the question above:
what needs to be in place, …
what needs to happen, …
what do they need to be sure of …
… so they WANT to give me their permission?
(not only to get the ‘bribe’, but also to keep hearing from you)
Time for a bit of DIY-thinking:
what, in YOUR opinion is THE #1 question people ask themselves when they first encounter your ‘ethical bribe’?
(assuming they haven’t heard of you before)
To make sure you’re actually thinking about it, I’m putting in this random video of a new plugin I’ve got coming out in the next couple of weeks – which happens to be rather useful when building targeted lists;-)
Watch it, then think about the previous question some more, and only then keep reading!
Right, the answer to the biggest question people have (when they don’t know you) – and that’s also the question your entire ‘landing-page + ethical bribe + follow-up-funnel’ have to answer is this:
is it (likely to be) worth my while? (aka: is it a good investment of my time & privacy)
in other words: if you want to get people’s permission to send them good stuff, they need to be as close to 100% as possible sure that this is NOT going to be a colossal (actually: even a tiny) waste of time, and that you’re not going to do anything untoward with their email address.
Taking just one of the items on the “but I don’t know…“-list above, the “but I don’t know what to bribe them with“, the answer is now simpler:
it’s whatever gives them the most confidence that you’re NOT wasting their time.
In other words: the type of content that gives them an opportunity to convince themselves that they are likely to get quality answers to their questions from you.
(I’m obviously assuming that you’re after quality optins here … if you just want as many signups as possible, free beer tends to do well)
The great news is:
that type of content has to be to the point … and is hence much easier to create than e.g. an all-encompassing 100-page ebook that showcases YOUR incredible expertise.
Sure, at some point, YOU will have to demonstrate that …
… but the first contact is all about THEM.
is this (bribe) (and hence whatever is behind the bribe) going to help me solve MY problem?
And the best way of achieving that is by letting them see for themselves (without having to invest a ton of time & effort to ‘make it happen’)
Obviously, there’s more to that, and as they progress further down the ‘funnel’, those questions change, but if people don’t ever sign up to your list because you’re not ‘building’ a list, it doesn’t really matter what cool stuff you put in the follow-up funnel.
So, make sure that about 1/4 of your daily effort is focused on finding new ways of giving your prospective clients an opportunity to see for themselves that it’s worth giving YOU their permission to talk some more
PS: in case you’re wondering why you should even ‘build a list’ – the answer is ‘leverage’.
With modern technology, there’s no real difference whether you’re communicating with one, 10, 100, 1000 or 10k prospective clients.
Same effort going in … massive difference in what you get out.