What do you think is the greatest and most profitable asset you can have today? Is it real estate? Maybe, but it depends. Most people cannot afford a valuable piece of real estate. Is it then your university degree? Absolutely not. Money? That’s very far from it.
Gary Halbert a renowned direct response marketer once asked a group of people what they’ll need to build a successful restaurant business. He got answers like, ‘delicious meal, ‘a great location’ and ‘a fancy interior’. Halbert responded, “you can keep all of these and just give me a ‘hungry crowd’ and I’ll beat every one of you.” Halbert believed that having access to a large group of people with a common interest, and desire for a certain kind of service is more important than just having a great product.
You’re probably not planning to start a restaurant business; at least not now that the restaurant business is badly hit by the lockdown due to the corona virus pandemic. You do understand why a hungry crowd is important to make a product or service successful.
So what does that have to do with the most profitable asset you can have today? Well to put it simply, the most profitable and most valuable asset you can have today is access to “an audience”; a hungry crowd if you will. I’m going to share with you what this is and then show you how you can grow your own audience no matter who you are. While you are here be sure to subscribe to After School Africa for a more interesting post like this.
Why ‘Audience’ is the greatest asset you can have today
Imagine two people who have the task to sell $37 product to as many people as they can. The first person is a hard-working salesman who can reach some friends, acquaintances and family members. In one week he successfully sold to 10 people. That gave him a revenue of $370. The second person is a lot more informed. He has access to 100,000 people through digital technologies. He reaches out to his audience over his laptop; 20,000 of them paid attention and just 5% of those bought his product. 1,000 times $37 gives him a revenue of $37,000 in one week. This figure can be less or more. Let’s even be too conservative and say just 100 out of 100,000 people convert; that’s still $3,700. Put both figures side by side; $370 vs $3,700 and you will understand the power of being able to get the attention of a large group of people within a short period of time.
You’ve probably heard some internet marketers make claims like, “how I made $100,000 in one week”. Although some of these claims may be false, it is not impossible. When such claims are true, what they rarely talk about is the effort and time they took to build their ability to reach a large audience.
“Whoever controls the media controls the mind”
In the past, you needed the large media houses to reach a large audience. Not many people could afford the media. So the media houses were the gatekeepers of ideas. The TV, Radio stations and the Newspaper houses controlled the media. They decide what idea was worth spreading and which was to go unheard. Ideas need to spread for it to win. So you either had to pay for advertising space or have your message blended into the publication or programming. This was out of reach for people like you and I. Many great writers died without being read. Many great movies were never made. Many businesses failed; all because there was no way to get their idea to an audience.
Compare this past to what we have today. A writer can write a piece of work today, publish it and have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people get to read it in a week. A random person can create a short film, upload it online and reach a large audience. An average person can create a service or product and reach people who are willing to patronize their service in days.
Imagine how things have changed. But it is even bigger than that. Let’s look at this from a larger scale. Facebook was not being extravagant to acquire Instagram for one billion dollars and Whatsapp for 19 billion dollars when these services were not even making any money. In fact, Facebook paid $42 for each Whatsapp user. There have been a lot of billion-dollar acquisitions in the tech industry. In most cases, the buyers were not really buying the technology; they could easily hire talents to build their own product if that was all that mattered. Rather, these purchases were mostly interested in the user base – that is the audience the seller had built over time. Whether the acquired business was making a profit wasn’t always the case. It was always about the audience. The simple explanation of this is that these big companies understand the power of an audience. Who controls the audience attention, controls the minds.
Why you should build your own audience and how to do it
Often Forbes magazine comes up with a list of most powerful people in the world. Usually, people who make this list are judged based on the extent to which their actions and decisions affect other people’s life. These are often political and business leaders. To that, we can say that you as a powerful as the number of people you can influence. But you don’t have to make the Forbes most powerful list to be relevant in the scheme of things. You can make significant change within your own space if you can influence a group of people to adopt your idea, buy your product, patronize your service or just be there whenever you need them. It doesn’t matter how great your idea, skill, service or product is, if you cannot get it to people who want it, you cannot make any difference.
Whatever you do, you need people who will be willing to support you. If you offer a service, you need people who will patronize you over and over again. If you are a professional, you need people to recommend you. Wherever you fit in the economic circle, you need an audience you can influence. You don’t have to build the next Uber or the next news blog. You can start from the most basic form of growing followers on social media.
Some years ago, I started selling used laptops. I ordered the laptops from the UK and created a Facebook page for the business. I partnered with a shop owner that sells computer accessories to stock my products and use his shop address for my business, while he makes a commission per sale. The address gave legitimacy to the business and a place for online customers within the state to go inspect and pick up the item. I focused on advertising the page to people within my city. Soon the page grew to over 25,000 fans. Buyers found laptops they wanted to buy through the Facebook page and picked them up at my partner’s office. All parties were happy at the end of every transaction. Well, except for the hassle that comes with selling used products from time to time. Even after I stopped and moved on from the business, the page was still valuable, people were still asking for laptops until today. I had to transfer its ownership to my partner. The major asset was not the laptop I was selling; neither was it the office space I was using. The asset was the audience I could reach on the Facebook page.
The hungry crowd
A lot of people confuse building an audience as just creating a social media page and getting people to like it. But that will be a very short-sighted way to look at it. You don’t just need an audience; you need their attention. There is a thin line between just raking up your number of followers and actually building an audience. The quality of your audience matters as much as the quantity. You need a quality audience to maintain engagement with your brand, and you need quantity to help spread the word and increase your quality audience. You need a hungry crowd, not just any crowd.
I once met a blogger whose website traffic was almost 8 times that of my website. But we both earn an equal amount of revenue. The difference was that his blog was for random topics without a focused audience while my website was more specific and defined. It was a difference between quantity and quality. So it’s not always about the size of the audience; the quality, that is the common interest of the audience, matters more. Focus on building an audience with a common interest related to your brand. If your brand is about food, build an audience around interest in food.
Seth Godin calls this your tribe; a group of people who are connected to each other, a leader, and an idea. You use technology to reach them via website, email, social media or other relevant tools. With the right size of such audience, you can generate income with a snap of a finger; and you can do this repeatedly for as long as you can reach this audience.