Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

Build a Badass Business Podcast #14: How to Grow Your Audience

BABAB-PODCAST-Square_Episode-14With social media is taking over the lives of business owners and marketers alike, it’s no wonder we’re all forgetting that at the root of every business – big or small – are people. People are behind every account, screen name, and avatar. By meeting people face to face, you grow and build an audience that’s not simply wide, vast, and large – but deeply connected. Of all the books on your shelves, if you’ve met the author in person, or heard them speak somewhere publicly, I’d bet money that their book is the first you’d recommend to someone over another that’s similar that you may like as well. That is the power of connecting in person to grow your audience. Tune in to hear more practical tips and strategies for making this work in your business.

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Build a Badass Business: Episode 14: How to grow your audience

Coming to you straight from her basement home office in suburban New Jersey, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. She’s here to teach you how to grow and develop a successful business you love, and how to create raving fans along the way. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome back to Build a Badass Business. Once again, I’m recording rogue, not on an amazing set up here, but as I’ve mentioned, a bunch of times before if you’ve been listening, I don’t want people to make perfect be the enemy of the good, and especially don’t want you to make perfect set ups, perfect editing, perfect equipment be the reason why you don’t just create content, get information out there, and start helping people, start connecting.

Today’s episode I want to talk about the topic of connecting. This is something that I think I touched on briefly in a previous episode, but I’ve talking to a bunch of entrepreneurs about this; I’ve been talking to Scott about this, as you guys know, my fiancé is also an entrepreneur, and we’ve just been kind of riffing on this topic, and I’ve been listening to some other podcasts, and this kind of just keep coming up inside me as almost a topic that’s not talked about enough, because our world has become so focused. And I’m saying our world, meaning entrepreneurs and small business owners, and possibly even as internet marketing, online business based entrepreneurs.

We’ve become so focused on social media that we forget about the people behind the accounts. I wanted to just kind of take you guys back to some of the stuff that I did really early on that I think laid the foundations for a lot of, I don’t know, I guess it’s a lot of my success but it’s also the depth of the connection that I have with my audience, and I think probably a lot of you listening, we’ve actually met in person. Many of you I’ve maybe sat in a room with for maybe an hour or two or even 8 or 9 hours if we had a seminar and maybe you were at the seminar. So, this idea of connecting is huge, and I think we need to get into this a little bit more.

So I’m going to take you guys way back in my story. When I was, I guess it was probably when I was working on the concepts for Balanced Bites, which was a meal delivery business, and I had left my last graphic design job that, was not the last job that I had working for someone else, it was the second to last job. And I mean full time, when I say working for someone else, because I did work part time in between there. But I left the graphic design job that I had at the small business agency because I just had this burning passion to be cooking food and balancing meals differently for people. What I ended up doing after just a short amount of time, probably in between and not working anywhere else, was I got a part time job at Lululemon. If any of you have ever worked there, it’s an amazing place to work, and part of their sales training was actually listening to Brian Tracy’s The Psychology of Achievement.

Which, nothing is an accident. I feel like I got that job thinking, I’m just going to sell some pants, and get a sick discount which, when I was working part time to pay the rent in San Francisco at Lululemon and spending my money on pants, I’m kind of laughing at myself because it was probably a little bit, I don’t know, I probably didn’t earn too much, net too much, because I was probably spending a lot of it, as you can imagine. But I think what I got from that job was just so deep in terms of listening to those CDs, and I highly recommend the Psychology of Achievement. There’s just so much in there and I really connected with it. I think a lot of it was information that I felt intuitively made sense, and I was living part of it, but of course I still wasn’t hitting my stride as an entrepreneur. So I think it was really meaningful that I went through that course of study.

I’ve probably listened to that series more times than I can count because I had it on my iPod. I used to listen to it while I was commuting to the next job that I had, when I actually did go back and get a job, but I love it. So highly recommend it.

Anyway, when I was working at Lululemon after I left the graphic design company, and I was starting Balanced Bites as a meal business, I made so many connections with the women in the store that I was working with, I was talking to the managers about my ideas, I talk about the things that I’m interested in and that I’m doing, and I’m not somebody who isn’t then also not going to do it. If you’re going to talk about it, you also have to be about it.

One of the things my coach at the gym says, don’t talk about it, be about it. I think that’s important, because if you are somebody who likes to talk about a lot of ideas, that’s fantastic, but people are going to get tired of hearing it. You’re going to be the boy who cried wolf, or the woman who cried business, if you don’t make it happen. So people are psyched to hear your ideas; I think it’s one of the most fun things to talk about are ideas and businesses that we want to create and things we want to do to help people solve problems, but we’ve got to make it happen.

So I would talk about it, and when I was probably, I think I had just left working Lululemon. Either I wasn’t still working there or I was, I can’t remember exactly, but they were hiring me to do the catering for the new store that was opening in the city. I think I had already left the company to start Balanced Bites as a meal business, and I did a little bit of catering, I catered a couple of events. I catered a gym, a holiday party for a friend of mine who I knew as a personal trainer, and then I catered this Lululemon function show, they called it.

The point here is, the connections that you make when you’re physically with people, in front of people, talking to people about your ideas, they get a sense of the passion that you have with the business, and then they’re ready to jump in with you, whatever it is you want to talk about and have as your business thereafter. The way that you connect with somebody who is hearing directly from you about this business, there’s no way that the folks at Lululemon, the women who were there, weren’t going to say, hey, Diane, do you want to cater this. I was the first person they asked, because of course I had been talking about making healthy food for the last 6 months while I was working in the store.

That was kind of the beginning of things, while I was working in the store and starting the catering company and the meal business, but when I studied nutrition, it’s kind of a long sordid tale of where all this stuff went, so maybe one day I’ll try and sit down and take you guys through the full path of my journey, because it’s interesting and it’s relevant, but it’s tough for me to get into all of it in an episode I’m trying to keep under 30 minutes.

I just wanted to touch on a couple of other in person-type events that I did that were very small, a lot of them were free, some of them were paid, and I don’t want you to think that any of this is useless. I think we get ahead of ourselves with the whole internet, online social media endeavor. A couple of things that I did, I had a cooking class that myself and a friend, my friend Chloe; she’s at Zest for Life Today. You can find her, actually she might be on Instagram at ECLauer, or something like that. I’ll see if we can link to her, but she was a health coach at the time and we did a cooking class in her apartment. So we only allowed like 4 or 5 people to come. I don’t know, we both kind of just threw caution to the wind and decided having a small group of people who would come to this event would be ok. We had people sign up through Eventbrite, and I’m still in touch with at least 2 of the 4 or 5 people that came to the cooking class. It was a healthy Thanksgiving recipes cooking class. You can probably search on my website for an archived write up about it, and an archived set of recipes from it, because gosh that was so long ago but I had the blog back then.

That was one thing; I know I gave a talk about sugar and kind of switching snacks and foods that folks would eat for a women’s business group, maybe it was a women’s entrepreneur group, and I’m sure that at the time, and even with the cooking class, I had an emailing list started. I definitely had a list in Mail Chimp. I know I had the women from that group sign up for an emailing list, and this is, you know, it doesn’t matter that you’re getting 4 or 5 or 10 names; those people have met you and there’s a connection there that you just cannot replace by posting a picture and having a comment on social media.

People who meet you and get to spend time with you, they’ll connect with you in a way that’s different than anyone else, and the value of that. I’d rather have you have 100 or 1000 people that you’ve met who follow you on social media than 10, 20, 100,000 who you’ve never met, because the depth of that connection will just be so much greater.

Beyond that, obviously teaching seminars, I’ve taught seminars in, gosh, I don’t even know maybe at least 50 cities around the country, obviously repeating a couple of them, and book signing events. I’ve done over 100 live events that are tracked on my Eventbrite listing, so that means 100 separate times I was in a different city meeting people, and I think probably the smallest event I ever did, I don’t know, maybe a small workshop I did, could have been 15 or 20 people, and some of the biggest events were maybe up to 3-400 for book signings that we had. So if you just think about, doing the math on that, and it’s not just about numbers, it’s about the people who are there that you can meet and connect with. They get to know you; you have an experience that you share that isn’t shared somewhere else. I don’t have audio recordings of all those book signings.

Man, it would kind of be cool if I did, right, have all these Q&A sessions to share with you guys, but that’s an experience that, even with hundreds of people, is so much more intimate than a post on Instagram that’s out there for the world to see. So I encourage you to connect in your community, and that’s what I really want to talk about for the next little bit of this episode.

I know a lot of you are health coaches, nutritionists; you work in some kind of health related field. Some of you may totally not be in that type of industry; that’s totally cool. I know lots of folks found me through my work with Balanced Bites and Practical Paleo and my bestselling books, but I know a lot of you are finding the podcast because it’s been ranking great. I think we’ve had the show in the top 20 on the management and marketing category, so I thank you for tuning in, and I encourage you to come connect with me in other places, if you can. I’m sure there will be live events going forward; however, currently there aren’t too many listed.

So, what I was going to say is, if you’re looking for ways to connect in your community locally, I’m going to throw out a few ideas here. If you’re somebody who is teaching nutrition or fitness, there are always groups all over the place who are looking for someone to come in and talk. So there are schools all over; connect with some of the parents in your neighborhood, connect with the school itself. I’m sure you could call the school or you could call an office that’s like the central office for the school, the superintendant, something like that, and just say hey, I’m a nutritionist in the area, or I’m a personal trainer, I’d really love to talk to parents about some basic exercises they could do. Anything.

I think the thing is, we have to just remember to be super humble and not get ahead of ourselves. Anytime you start to feel like you’re too good for something, we need to knock ourselves down and say, we’re here to serve people with the information that we have and how we can help them. That’s a really great way to do it. Community centers are a great place to go, just teach a class. Keep it really basic. If you’re talking to the community at large, you’re not talking to your little niche on the internet of people who are maybe looking for info on paleo nutrition or acupuncture or whatever your widget is that you sell.

If people are a little bit more of a general population, you want to keep the topic much more general and basic. And allow people to ask questions that are more detailed, and that’s cool, you can kind of get into some of the depth of what you know and whether it’s science or mechanical information, things like that, you can get into with questions, but keep the information really basic for the general population.

Libraries are a fantastic place; I’ve done multiple talks at my local library, the library I grew up going to back when I used to rent VHS tapes and they’d come in that black box, and you’re like, which one is it? For some reason, the library wouldn’t send you home with the video cover that the video came in. I don’t understand that whole thing {laughs}. Anyway, I’d rent videos there with my family, and take books out, and photocopy encyclopedias at this library, and I’ve given at least 2 different talks there for a couple of different books that I have. But hey, if I didn’t have books out at the time, if I was still in this town while I was starting, that would be a fantastic place to talk. Libraries love community talks. Now, generally you can’t charge for people to come to a community talk at a library, but that’s fine. You’re going to get those people that you can connect with, answer their questions, help them out. They’re going to feel so grateful to you for that.

Grocery stores; a lot of natural grocery stores, places like Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, a lot of grocery stores they’re happy to have you come teach a class. It sometimes takes a lot more work to get into places like that, but it’s worth it. I know some of the coaches from the 21-Day Sugar Detox program I run are getting into places like Natural Grocers and Whole Foods to do talks to talk about 21-Day Sugar Detox, but to talk about other things as well.

Chiropractors and naturopathic doctors in your area. Any practitioner who does something that might be somewhat related to what you do, they’re fantastic to connect with, because absolutely those folks are going to say, hey yeah, you want to come do a talk here, especially if it’s free. I don’t generally advocate for you to do free work, but there is a time and a place for it. I mentioned this in a previous episode, but when you’re looking to build your business, when you’re looking for a way to really connect deeply with people, that’s your opportunity to say, hey you’re going to give me a venue and you’re going to help me get some people in the door, it’s going to be free. Then you can look later at events that are maybe small or larger that you do charge for people to come, and you start charging less, and eventually you can charge more and more depending on the demand.

As soon as you start getting out there and building this base of connections in person, it will snowball. You will find that people come out of the woodwork looking for you to give talks. You have friends that hear about it, people who were at the talk are part of another group and say, hey I would love for you to give this talk to this other group that I’m in. maybe they say, can I run this by our school, a different school district or something like that if they’re maybe at the library, and you’ll get this connection. I think, again, if you’re feeling like you just don’t know how to get customers, you don’t know how to get your business going, you feel like social media is overwhelming, you feel like other people are better than you, they’ve been doing it longer than you, you’re just behind. If any of that kind of crops up and you’re feeling like you just don’t know how to connect, reach out in your community. It’s absolutely the best place to do it.

Get in touch with real people; face to face, sharing what you have t share. That’s where you’ll start to break down a lot of the fear that you might have, as well, about whether or not this is something that you can or should be talking about because, as soon as you get in front of people, you’re literally faced with the questions that people are going to have, and I think that’s something that a lot of folks never do. They never get in front of people. I know that public speaking is very daunting for a lot of folks, but you have to remember that if you have an area of expertise, keep the subject matter very basic and only talk about things you feel that you’re an expert on. Only address things that you feel that you really know what you’re talking about. Don’t get into the subject matter that you think is a little murky for you. There’s no need to bring it up if you’re unsure about it. Only talk about the things you’re really sure about. If you don’t know the answer to somebody’s question, simply say I don’t know. It’s absolutely ok to do that.

I’d love to hear from you guys. I want you to drop a review in iTunes, let me know what you think of the episodes, what me know what’s resonating with you. Come join us on the Facebook group and tell me ways that you’re connecting in the community. Tell folks on there what kind of industry you’re in and ways that you’ve connected in person with people in your community, either presently or in the past. Let’s share some ideas so folks can get out there and get their business going.

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