Don Crowther
Don Crowther

Proven Strategies and Techniques To Build YOUR Business

Proven Strategies and Techniques To Build YOUR Business

AreYouInTheContentBusinessOrTheAudienceBusiness

Warning: Paradigm shift coming!

I have been getting lots of questions from people who have been hugely burned by Google’s algorithm changes, especially the changes named after formerly loveable black and white creatures.

In most of those cases, these people complained that they did exactly what they thought Google asked them to do…

They created lots of content about their area of specialty.

In many cases, that content was high quality, valuable content.

But they still got burned by Google, in many cases losing 75% or more of their traffic.

Where did they go wrong?

I believe the reason was because they focused on creating content.

But contrary to popular belief, that’s where most people go wrong.

There’s something much much bigger than the content business on which you should be focusing…

The Audience Business.

You see, Google (and pay very close attention to this parenthetical phrase: YouTube) are in the business of building, and more importantly, owning audiences.

They’ve got plenty of content on just about every subject important enough that lots of people to search on it each day.

Their problem is how to choose which to show first in their results.

And this is, in my humble position, what Google has been repeatedly telling us, sometimes obtusely, and oftentimes forcefully, over the last 18 months.

Google doesn’t want you to have tons of content, they want you to build an audience! And they’ll reward you when you do!

But like anyone who’s ever been in an argument, we keep trying to make our point without listening to their’s, forgetting that in the battle of whether your opinion is right or Google’s is, Google’s is the ONLY opinion that really matters!

I could give you literally dozens of evidences to support this content versus audience assertion, but just trust me on this: Google is in the business of building audiences and in working with others who are doing the same.

One simple reason – that’s where the money is!

Loyalty builds profits.

By now, I’m sure you’re seeing the value of building an audience, not just content.

But if you stop there, you’re leaving most of the real money on the table.

The real money is NOT in building an audience, it’s in OWNING your audience!

Think of it this way: Seinfeld build an amazing body of content and a great franchise. He built an audience, and is worth an astounding $800 million.

But did he OWN that audience? No, the network did. And because the network owned the audience, they were able to not only make billions while Seinfeld made merely hundreds of millions, but they were able to use their ownership of that audience to launch numerous other mega-franchises through adjacencies (what program showed just before and after Seinfeld) and also through promotion of other shows during the Seinfeld broadcasts.

I could name many other examples, like Disney, professional sports teams, Lady Gaga, Facebook, and Brendon Burchard.

Each of these companies owns an audience and is able to do amazing things as a result.

So how do you move from creating content
to creating an audience
to owning an audience?

There’s no way this subject can be properly handled in a single already overly-long blog post (the purpose of this post was to seed a concept in your mind, to get you strategically thinking, and driving your self and your team to shift your paradigm and start focusing where the real money lies.)

But there are several points that certainly bear consideration as you start to think about these concepts:

1. Every great audience owner I can think of started with a common factor: great content.

They created a steady stream of content that was so breakthrough that it caused people to take notice and share it with their friends.

How good is your content? Good enough, or breakthrough? We can all use improvement in this area.

2. Every great audience ownership company became social in the process of getting to ownership.

As I say that, I don’t necessarily mean social media, though that’s a viable part of the process. Many of these franchises were created long before Al Gore invented the Internet, much less before Zuckerberg dropped out of college.

But these brands were built on social. They got talked about, they listened to what people were saying, and most of them adjusted themselves accordingly.

I’ll just be blunt. There’s no way that you’re going to own an audience today without figuring out how to properly get social and use social media in that process.

3. Every great audience owner stays in that position by continually producing more great content.

Disney has faltered, because they hired management that took their eye off the audience ball and started focusing on the content ball, trying to shift their audience, and making multi-billion mistakes along the way.

Seinfeld’s wealth drops daily because he is no longer producing content. Football teams that stop winning conference championships rapidly lose at least a portion of their franchise.

Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to retire, but audiences are fickle and they WILL leave when your content production either stops or shifts to something that’s inconsistent with what your audience chose to follow.

With just a few exceptions (the Beatles) you can’t stay on top based on memories. Audience ownership demands constant reminder and renewal with even more, great content.

4. Great audience ownership companies usually expand through integration.

You’ll always be limited if the only thing you do is what you originally did. Seinfeld did one thing, but could have done much more if he would integrated his essence into more ways that his audience could own more of the Seinfeld experience.

Great brands expand their offerings. And, if done correctly, they profit substantially as a result.

There are lots of other ways to expand your audience ownership, which I invite us to talk about in the comment section.

But I want to end with a key point.

You don’t have to be a mega-million dollar company to own an audience. You can own an audience of 500 and live a highly successful and happy life as a result, if they’re the right people.

You probably already own an audience at some level. It may only be your 3-year old who loves the nightly stories you make up about him slaying dragons and righting the world’s wrongs. But, I can promise you, that it’s rare for audiences to be owned without specific strategic thought, planning, and effort to get there.

What are or could YOU be doing to build and to actually OWN an audience? Let’s talk about it by leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to Like, Share, Tweet and Pin this article!

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  1. Those Google algorithm sure does keep one on their toes or on their game. I am not quite sure about the owning an audience part, is it meaning those that are loyal followers and folks that interact, kind of like keep them coming back for more because you or I should say I am, we both are, providing good content. And, what about this integration piece, almost sounds like an oxymoron, expanding by intregrating. But, I think I understand, expanding the business by bringing parts of your business together, or audience, through blogging, facebook, ebooks, products, youtube, newsletters, etc. Ah yes, a community that adores what you do, have to say and have to offer. And, Google will love you for it too! Thanks Don

  2. Okay, this sounds good, but it also sounds like a vicious circle that us “little people” may never find our way out of.

    Example, you build the content, but you can’t be found to build the audience if Google keeps your site buried because you haven’t built an audience yet because people haven’t found you because Google keeps your site buried…

    That’s my question, because twice now Google has buried my site before I’ve even had a chance to start building an audience with the content I’ve built thus far and keep building. So unless I pay for advertising, I’m pretty much sunk, even though I have a great product that most of my customers – when they WERE able to find me – said is better than my competitors.

    What to do… what to do…

    1. Unfortunately, that is one of the facts of life in this situation. But, as I mentioned in one sentence, Google sets the rules here, so we need to figure out how to work within them.

      There’s lots more on that subject (how to get traffic and build a following) in the many articles on this site.

      Don

  3. Thanks, Don, for a thought provoking and interesting article.
    With your reasoning abowe, you have to continue, (and improve from article to article) produce content like this.
    If not, you risk loosing audience = loose ranking in Google.
    There is no room for errors there, more than once or at the max twice with the whole Internet filled out there.
    How to survive that battle if you are a lone marketer and not abig cooperation or syndicate?

  4. Great insight Don. It is a refreshing concept to just be true to your audience. I have never felt comfortable forcing anything online, whether it is content, backlinks, social updates, etc. just to hit a number or because some algorithm junkie said that was the answer. I have done it though – for a long time. Lately my freedom, and renewed excitement, has been in just going with my passion and voicing things I am passionate about. I’m happier and I know I will attract a more authentic audience now. Thank you.

  5. Finding the right people is easier than it sounds…they’ll find you, once you produce the right awesome content. It may only touch the heart of 2 or 10 people but they will be so moved that it will snowball. Trust this. It may take a while, but be wholehearted in continuously creating that amazing content for those 2 or 10 people and it’ll GROW!

  6. Now I’m more confuse as a result of reading this post…I’ve been focusing on building audience in a specific niche with no worthwhile success…I just shift the focus to purely content in a specific area, and now I read this..So where should I place my focus?

  7. If Google continues on the current path of audience building they will lose authors who are writing high quality, factual, and new content. The winners will be large corporations, celebrities, TV shows, etc who can attract large audiences quickly, but the content will be virtually useless.

    Next will be forcing users to watch commercials if they want any information at all, – even if they just want to take a peek. (That’s already happening on youtube.). The end result may be a shift back to reading books for factual information and a mass exodus from the internet.

    People don’t like advertising. That’s why many don’t watch TV. They get information online. If quality content isn’t there and people are forced to watch commercials, the internet will have little value. It might become worse than TV. People will either avoid the internet or use it on a limited basis for email, sending documents, downloading movies, books, and keeping in touch with close friends.

  8. Hi Don,

    As I’ve become accustomed to hear from you, your post contradicts popular opinion of “content, content, content” – you mention its importance, but go on to discuss the “audience” as being the primary objective.

    How about a blog post dedicated to the mechanics of “social media strategy” e.g. spend x amount of time focusing on the gaining of “likes”, y amount of time commenting on other people’s/pages discussions, z amount of time building friends using “groups”, etc. etc.

    Look forward to reading more from you over the coming days.

    Kind regards,
    Wayne Strickland

  9. Interesting Don. But what stuck out to me was “You can own an audience of 500 and live a highly successful and happy life as a result, if they’re the right people.” Isn’t that the riddle that needs to be solved; finding the right people? Whether it’s 500, 5000, or 5 million?

    It would seem to me, either way, isn’t all still a “numbers” game?

  10. Great post, Don. It’s true (and refreshing to know) that you don’t need a huge audience – just one that’s quality. For example, I think it’s probably smart to focus on developing a quality twitter following vs. a huge one.

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