Allow me to introduce you to Peter.
I first met Peter, when I was interviewing him for the Small Biz Stories podcast.
My team and I created the show as a way for successful small businesses to share their stories as inspiration for other small businesses and to better understand our customers at Constant Contact.
The show allowed us to go deeper than market research or data.
Data and research alone, although necessary, don’t get to the level of intimacy required to create great content that rises above the noise to truly resonate with those you’re trying to reach.
The science meets art on the path toward resonance.
It’s where you learn to empathize with the PEOPLE you’re trying to reach.
As speaker Tamsen Webster points out…
“What moves a market is what moves an individual mind, so something has to work at the individual level before it can work at the organizational or market level.”
Once you understand enough to move a single person, you can begin to move markets.
So what happened with Peter?
When we first meet Peter, we were enthralled by his big personality. His bravado. His storytelling. His passion for selling cheese. No joke, he holds a parade for a 400-pound wheel of cheese on the first Thursday of every December. It’s amazing.
He shared how he started his business. And he told us about the moment he thought he made his biggest mistake.
Yet here he is over 17 years later. Still going.
He also told us what he thought about email marketing:
“To me, I’m sending spam to these people. If I were to get it, it’d be spam to me. I don’t care about your business. I really don’t.”
Wow. Not exactly what a company that sells email marketing wants to hear. We had our work cut out for us.
But by the end of this story, Peter will have taken our coaching, created and sent two emails, and made over $900.
Why should you care what happened to Peter?
You should care because this example illustrates how focusing on one customer can help you create content that allows you to reach many. Your content marketing efforts can get big, by starting small.
Let me explain.
We invited Peter and his staff to spend the day with us at a half-day workshop focused solely on helping them become more successful with their marketing.
Although I was sure I knew what we needed to share with Peter and his team, our conversations beforehand revealed something entirely different.
Peter let me know what was important to him as a business owner, and these factors influenced how we positioned the content with his team.
We discovered how to bridge the gap between what he wanted to know and what he needed to know to be more successful than he had been with his marketing efforts.
We needed to do more.
We recognized that we needed to explain our point of view on the advantage small businesses have in the marketplace, our approach to marketing in general, the relationship between social media and email, and how it all comes together to benefit his business.
In regards to email marketing, we created a set of rules based on Peter’s concerns:
- The solution must be simple
- Tasks should take 15 minutes or less
- They needed to know where they’re going and what to do next
We needed to go beyond best practices.
We needed to give Peter and team a step-by-step plan for success.
At a base level, if the plan were followed Peter would see success. This success would hopefully prompt the question, what else can I do?
I already mentioned that Peter made over $900 from following our system. He wasn’t the only one to see some success.
Here’s how we spoke to one to reach many
We took what we learned from coaching Peter and turned it into a virtual workshop series on email marketing for retail businesses.
Our newfound knowledge allowed us to capture the problem and offer a solution in a way that better resonated with others in our audience like Peter.
The five-part webinar series increased our average webinar registrations by 1,100 percent.
We then expanded the coaching for a broader audience. The repackaging increased registrations by an additional 281 percent.
Recently, we applied the email success coaching to a nonprofit audience. Registrations increased over the retail version by 145 percent.
We repackaged the webinar content into an email marketing roadmap in the form of a guide with worksheets and additional resources for a general audience (think B2C, B2B, and NP) and the following industries…
- Real Estate
- Religious Organizations
Each of these guides has shown a promising start in terms of engagement.
Speaking to one creates a more significant impact.
Peter represents just one example of the application of this One-to-Many Method. Holistically, this approach allowed us to achieve 1,258 percent growth in unique blog visitors from when we started in 2011.
Organic search traffic to the blog generated from these efforts saved the company over $70.2 million in traffic costs between January 2015 and August 2018.
And yet, even with these results, there’s much more to do.
Let’s take a look at how you can use the same methodology for any audience you’re trying to reach.
Step 1. Choose
I know. You don’t want to leave anyone out.
I’m not suggesting you ignore potential prospects and customers. I’m suggesting that you must focus to have the greatest impact. Then move on to the next segment.
Making a choice is hard. But you must make a decision to get beyond surface content, content that doesn’t go deep enough, to show your audience that you genuinely understand their needs.
Surface content may get people in the door. But it won’t keep them. Choose.
If you have research, what segment of customers does it make the most sense to go after?
What vertical are they in? What industry?
Need help choosing? If you already have customers, what is the largest group?
No customers? Who would you most want to work with?
Once you’ve chosen your audience, move to step two.
Step 2. Select one person within this audience.
From the audience you’ve chosen, find an existing customer or someone you think would make a good customer.
In either case, the idea is to find someone you ENJOY working with. Someone whose success you want to take part in.
Again you’re starting with one, then moving to the next.
Step 3. Get agreement from your person.
Make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse: You’ll focus your energies on their success, in return they allow you to share their story through content.
Then you can share their successes with others like them. Use them as examples so others can replicate the success.
An agreement is critical to the success of this approach.
There’s more commitment from both parties when there’s an official opt-in.
Once the deal is done. Move to step four.
Step 4. Profile
Get to know your person.
- How did they get started?
- What were their biggest challenges?
- What are their current challenges?
- What are their hopes and dreams for the future?
Then move into the specifics as they relate to your product or service.
- What are they trying to accomplish?
- What do they want to know?
- What do they need to know?
- Where do they get stuck?
IMPORTANT. The profile is a content opportunity. Many businesses foolishly let interactions with customers go to waste.
Not you. You’re going to do double duty.
Instead of just conducting internal research during this phase, approach the engagement with an eye toward creating an external asset. See Small Biz Stories as an example.
Step 5. Plan
Yes, you’ll come in with an idea for the framework you’ll want to apply. Keep it simple. Respect the person. And make adjustments based on their individual needs. Iterate on the plan as you pressure test it with real people.
Once you have a specific plan for a particular person, what are the general elements you can extract to use with others? Use these elements in step six.
Step 6. Package
Package the plan. Then repackage it. Multiple times. In ways that add something unique while reinforcing the message.
Package at a general, then industry-specific level.
At the general level, you’re walking people through the methodology and showing some broad examples across the segments you serve. For example B2B, B2C, and NP.
At the industry-specific level, start broad and get more granular. For example, B2C > Retail > Food Service > Cheese Shop.
Tag and categorize the content created in a way that makes sense for your business so you can more easily find and serve up the right information to the right people at the right time.
What does repackaging look like?
At the link above you’ll see a sound file and a transcript of the episode.
You’ll also notice I’m using Peter’s story in this post.
I also use Peter’s story in presentations to show how other small businesses can apply the same email marketing success formula.
Here’s a post I wrote on how to speak to one to reach many.
You get the picture.
Step 7. Repeat
Run through the process again. And again. And again.
Each time capture your new learnings to further optimize your framework for the audiences you’re trying to reach.
What is the outcome of this approach?
You create content that resonates and stands out because it doesn’t sound like everything else out there.
Plus, by actually focusing on the people you’re trying to reach you make better decisions and develop products and services that have more significant meaning to them.
You get to that place of providing actual value.
Create content with individuals to move markets
The more individuals you work with, the more you’ll understand the nuances associated with their businesses. You’ll have more experience to draw from and more examples to share.
You’ll be better able to attract, connect, and move your audience toward success.
You can get big, by starting small.
The steps are simple. Making a choice is hard.
The choice is yours.
Continue to do things the way you’ve always done them. Or commit to what your people really need.
If you put your faith in doing the right thing for your customer, you just might get to where you’re trying to go.
What do you think? Crazy? Or crazy enough to work?