Let’s talk about online business… and why I think you should stop trying to build your email list.
Now, before you click away – I’m not saying ditch your email list. Not at all. Instead, I want to invite you to see your subscribers in a new way.
You see, I think we should drop the terms “list building” and “email marketing”. I don’t believe these concepts are serving you. Your email subscribers are human beings and not numbers on a list.
Because here’s the problem. People are sick of receiving sales-y newsletters. They are wary about providing their email address. And when they do, they are quick to hit “unsubscribe” or the “spam” button.
The long and short of this is this – traditional online marketing methods no longer work the way they used to.
So, what does all this mean?
It means you need to view your email subscribers through different eyes. Treat them as valued members of your community. Be ready to go above and beyond to ensure they want to keep hearing from you.
In other words, you want to build a tribe of true fans.
NOTE: I’ve created a free video and workbook that goes deeper into how to build a tribe of true fans. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, click the image below to get instant access to the Tribe Building training and more than 20 other free resources.
What Are True Fans
You may already be familiar with the idea of 1000 true fans. In this 2008 article, Kevin Kelly introduced the term. He described a true fan as:
“… a fan that will buy anything you produce.”
But there’s still a problem with this concept. Finding 1000 true fans can be daunting. Especially when you’re starting out.
Luckily, you don’t need 1000 true fans. At least not in the early stages of your business.
I recommend you start by attracting just 10 of the right people into your world.
With 10 true fans you can earn your first $1000, $5000, or even $10,000.
10 true fans are more than enough to prove your business idea. And once you’ve passed four-figures, scaling your business becomes much easier.
Let’s look at some numbers, so you can see how this works.
Say you have 10 true fans. These are the people who open all your emails and engage with your stuff. They read your blog. Comment on your social media posts. They write back to you.
These 10 people love your work and resonate deeply with your message. They are your innermost tribe members. These true fans are ready to buy your offerings. They WANT what you are about to create.
Now, let’s say you introduce your first digital product.
Perhaps it’s a short online course and you price it at $100. If 10 of your tribe buy, then you make $1000.
Here’s another example. Imagine you’re a coach and you launch a new $1200 coaching package. If 10 of your tribe buy your package, then you earn $12,000.
With just 10 true fans you can easily earn your first $1000 or more in your business.
So, how do you create your first 10 true fans? That’s what we’ll talk about next.
How To Create True Fans
There are three steps to build your tribe and create true fans. They are:
- Describe: Get clear on what you stand for and why your tribe should care.
- Invite: Ask the right people to join your tribe.
- Engage: Lead your tribe, demonstrate your expertise, and build trust.
This is NOT the same as internet marketing and cannot be achieved with one email funnel. Please don’t expect to create true fans with a series of automated emails.
Email funnels can still generate sales (though conversion rates may be low). So, there’s no need to abandon your funnels. Instead, I want you to expand your current marketing efforts.
Because funnels don’t create true fans. To build true fans you need to go above and beyond – you need to provide real human connection.
Let’s look at the three tribe building steps in more detail.
Step 1: Describe Your Tribe
In this first step, you get clear about what you stand for and why people would want to join your tribe.
You need to have a vision for your business. A reason why you do what you do. A purpose that you – and other people – care deeply about.
One way to do this is using an exercise I call the WOW statement. WOW is an acronym, it stands for:
- Who: Your ideal audience or your tribe.
- Outcome: A positive outcome your audience wants (must be something they care deeply about).
- Why: Why you are different from others in your field.
To come up with your WOW statement, spend time researching your target audience. Get to know them and understand their deepest pains and secret dreams.
Many successful businesses solve a problem the owner personally experienced and overcame. This is the basis of my business.
I worked for years to build a business so that I could stay home with my kids and make money – without feeling torn between the two. I understand my audience because I’ve been through their struggles, shared their dreams, and still am.
Having a deep empathy for your tribe and being able to communicate their secret hopes and deepest pains, will help you quickly create true fans.
Step 2: Invite People To Join Your Tribe
Now you know who your people are and what they want, you can invite them to join your tribe.
The usual process is to create an email list and offer a freebie to encourage people to sign up. And this is where I suggest your start.
Your freebie wants to be a bite-sized solution to one of your tribe’s deepest problems.
But before you jump in and read those posts, there’s something you need to know. This is a secret many internet marketers won’t tell you.
You must be prepared to test multiple freebies before hitting on a winning formula that builds your email list and creates true fans.
Running a business is all about experimentation. You try something, see if it works, then either improve on it or try something else.
You must keep iterating through the idea -> test -> refine cycle until you land on one or more freebies that people love.
Nobody hits on the perfect email opt-in the first time around. And so, I challenge you to come up with at least 25 ideas.
Then be prepared to test all 25. Hopefully you’ll hit on a winner much sooner than that. But if you don’t, think of this process as valuable research.
The more offers you put out, the more feedback you receive. You will discover what people like and don’t like.
You will also get better with practice. You will learn how to write enticing copy, master the technology, and know how to create content people love.
Now, if you’re not sure how to create a freebie and build your email list, here are the two blog posts again:
And if you need help marketing your freebie, then check out this free training I created for you. In it, I share three powerful ways to get the word out about your email opt-in for little or no budget.
Step 3: Engage Your Tribe Members
Okay, you’ve defined your tribe and you’re busy inviting people to join your email list. What next?
Just because someone downloads your freebie, it doesn’t automatically qualify them as a true fan. It takes time for someone to get to know you and decide whether they share your ideals and want to be a part of your tribe.
Many people will decide they don’t belong in your world. And that’s okay. Remember – you only need 10 true fans to prove your business is viable.
If 10 people want to buy your stuff, then you can go on to find another 100 people or more.
Be confident about what you stand for and who you serve. Don’t be afraid to discourage people who don’t belong in your tribe. When you do this, more of the right people will become true fans.
Now, let’s talk about how to engage your subscribers. You want people get to know you and understand what you’re about.
You also want to listen to your tribe members. Discover their greatest needs and how you can best serve them. Be open to having two-way conversations – don’t limit yourself to email newsletters and blog posts.
Here are some practical ways to build a deeper connection with your tribe. You don’t need to do all of these. I recommend picking one or two (in addition to sending a regular email newsletter):
- Launch a YouTube channel
- Create a podcast
- Post regular live videos, e.g. on Facebook
- Start an online community such as a Facebook Group or forum
- Host a recurring online meeting like my monthly Coffee Q&A
- Host a recurring in-person meetup, e.g. using Meetup.com
- Hold free workshops or webinars
- Offer mini sessions over Zoom or Skype (for example if you sell a one-to-one service or coaching)
All these ideas provide a level of engagement beyond the written word.
Options 1-3 are broadcast options, where people can see your face and/or hear your voice. This helps you form a deeper connection with potential tribe members. Options 4-8 provide the opportunity to have two-way conversations.
If you’re struggling to decide what’s best for you, play to your strengths. If you prefer to talk but hate video, a podcast might be a good idea. If you like to connect in person, start a local Meetup Group. Pick one channel and go with it.
Stop Trying To Build Your Email List
So, what do you think? Are you building an email list or a tribe of true fans?
If you’re not sure, then I encourage you to look for ways to go deeper with your audience. Which ideas from this article can you use to create more true fans?
When you build a tribe of true fans, you form lasting connections with people. You create a meaningful business that impacts more lives. And you grow an audience of people who are eager to buy your offerings.
If you’d like more support building your tribe. Then check out Home Business School. In October, I’ll be helping members create irresistible freebies and build a loyal and engaged following. Click the image below to find out more and get immediate access to everything inside Home Business School.