Building an online audience is hard work. It can take back-breaking, frustrating effort with little reward for hours, days, weeks and months of content creation and online social media marketing. If you are disappointed with the size and engagement of your online audience, then I’ve got some harsh words for you: your community strategy sucks.
To build your online audience, you must go offline. Yes, I know it sounds counter intuitive. But, with the right steps in place, and executed diligently, what you do offline could explode your online community. Once you start growing your online audience, your content creation and social media marketing will help it snowball in size.
Why Does Going Offline Help to Grow Your Online Business?
An article published in the Harvard Business Review in 2017 detailed research that concluded face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than email. In an infographic published by Virgin, it was noted that 84% of people prefer face-to-face meetings.
Going offline, meeting people and getting acquainted with them – and helping them to become acquainted with the ‘real you’ – is highly effective in growing your community and market your online presence.
Live events are great vehicles to do this. You gather multiple people simultaneously, convey a single message, and encourage a widening network.
The question is, how do you run a successful live event offline to promote yourself online?
5 Tips to Develop a Community Strategy to Integrate Offline and Online
You may have a wider potential (global) audience online, but it is your offline audience that will ignite that potential. A well-run, exciting and engaging offline event will encourage participants to join your online community and become your brand advocates. They will market you better than you can!
Here are my five top tips to help you develop a community strategy that will help promote yourself offline to grow your community online.
1. Set a Goal for Your Offline Event
Your offline goal should dovetail with your online objectives, and resonate with your target audience. If you are targeting students online, you shouldn’t be presenting events to retirees offline.
The purpose of the event should be clear to those attending. Let them know what to expect, and what they will gain from attending. Think about the question they want you to answer – “What’s in it for me?”
Will your event be educational? Will it be inspirational? Will it inform? Will it provide networking opportunities? These are all questions that your goal should answer. With these questions answered, you can then consider how it will encourage deeper connection between you and your audience and compel attendees to share their experience with friends and colleagues in person and online.
2. Structure Your Offline Event for Your Audience
You have probably attended events and presentations and been amazed at the reception the speaker or organiser has received. So, you plan to structure your event in the same way. That’s a mistake.
Instead of replicating, plan a unique approach that helps you to connect with your audience rather than speak at them. The aim here is to transform your audience into followers, not to treat them as pupils.
A workshop approach in which attendees are encouraged to participate with exercises and techniques that you are discussing with them will have a bigger impact than any slide show presentation. You’ll also receive real-time feedback as your audience gets a taste of your coaching skills.
A retreat-style event would allow a more intimate approach, personalising strategies and building relationships. There will be time to relax and network with others.
Whatever style of event you are planning, structure it to be interactive. Show people how to apply what you are coaching, and capture them as a new disciple of your personal and professional brand. Remember, these converts are likely to enrol on your other programs – the main event may be the aperitif they need to whet their appetite for more of the same, but on a one-to-one basis.
3. Leverage Your Existing Online Presence
Though you are using an offline strategy to build your online community, it is critical that you leverage your existing online presence to market your event. You want to create a buzz with a launch strategy. This should include:
Providing free, value-added content as a taster of what people can expect at the live event
A series of virtual events, with live event snippets to show that the live event is not to be missed
Making a landing page that converts to get signs-ups to your virtual events
You should start promoting your live event at least three months before the event date, and make it easy for people to sign up (and cost-effective to do so).
First, you can reward your loyal online community members and customers with exclusive access to your offline events. Consider tactics such as:
• Early registration
• Discounts on event ticket prices
• Special member-only events
Finally, when someone enrols for the live event, make sure that you keep them in the loop and informed. Take the effort out of doing this by setting up an email autoresponder campaign.
Remind enrolees what to expect, the date, time and place, the event schedule, and so on. Provide details of how to travel to the event.
Here’s another great way to promote your offline event online. Set up social media pages about the event and invite enrolees to sign up and follow online. This will create connections and give people more content to share.
4. Develop Your Live Skills
Your live event will hit the mark and achieve its goal because of you. You must be a performer, engage the audience, and present personably and sincerely. You must let your passion shine. This doesn’t just happen, but when it does you will hit the jackpot.
Tell unique stories. Tell them so that they show empathy with the audience. Describe how you have come to where you are now, and why you do what you do.
Do all these things and you will build the authentic relationships that deliver long-term clients, and convert your offline community to online advocates.
5. Avoid Hard Sell Tactics
Your offline live event is another access route into the customer journey. It is not an opportunity for the hard sell. You want your audience to leave the event with greater belief in you and your brand. If attendees connect with you offline, they are more likely to come to you online.
The sell you give them should be to connect online, to discover more and continue the journey they have begun. This is, perhaps, the most pertinent advice I can offer today. People buy from people they trust. Be that person. Dedicate yourself to helping your community, not selling to them – and the sales will come.
Do you need help to develop your online community? To find out more and discover how we help businesses grow, contact BlabberJax today.
In the meantime, tell us what you have found to be your biggest challenges, disappointments and successes in your online journey in the comments below. We’ll be happy to get in touch and help you find the solution.