There’s a great deal of talk these days about authentic. You might think that by its very nature marketing isn’t authentic, but in the digital age where people are increasingly savvy, being authentic means being transparent. In business, being authentic means that you are upfront with your customers, offering what you say you offer; it costs what you say it costs. In business, you also want to capture and grow an authentic audience.
BlackEnterprise.com tapped by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. BE asked YEC for one tip to help small business owners grow an authentic audience? The following are their answers:
1. Be Authentic With Your Community
Your audience is a community of extended relationships. So the classic relationship advice still holds: Be yourself. Communicate as a person with personal experiences, goals and personality. Relate to this audience as with your own friends. Express connection with them; be it through humor, support, sharing stories, solving problems, cheerleading and, most importantly, asking questions.
2. Build Relationships on Their Turf
Start with who the audience is, where they hang out, and what they lack first before you think about what you want and where you want people to go. Then create content specifically for the places where that audience exists. Figure out how to get them to your website after you build a relationship on the audience’s turf.
3. Show Appreciation to Your Followers
Growing an authentic audience begins with a single follower and builds one person at a time. The challenge comes when flaky or disrespectful followers make criticisms or demands of you and your brand that aren’t in line with your values. Will you allow them to shape your content and company, cause you to give up, or change the way you present yourself to the world? Or will you stick to your guns?
4. Don’t Buy Traffic
Having an internal goal of only growing through organic function serves as a forcing function for authenticity. You can create video content, post on social media, and write great content on your site — but you cannot fool yourself into growth if you don’t have a marketing budget. You’ll see that the more real you are with your audience, the more you’ll grow.
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