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Question: What is one tip for small business owners to grow an authentic audience?

Be Authentic With Your Community

“Your audience is a community of extended relationships. So the classic relationship advice still holds: Be yourself. Communicate as a person with personal experiences, goals and personality. Relate to this audience as with your own friends. Express connection with them, be it through humor, support, sharing stories, solving problems, cheerleading and, most importantly, asking questions.”

Build Relationships on Their Turf

“Start with who the audience is, where they hang out, and what they lack first before you think about what you want and where you want people to go. Then create content specifically for the places where that audience exists. Figure out how to get them to your website after you build a relationship on the audience’s turf.”

Show Appreciation to Your Followers

“Growing an authentic audience begins with a single follower and builds one person at a time. The challenge comes when flaky or disrespectful followers make criticisms or demands of you and your brand that aren’t in line with your values. Will you allow them to shape your content and company, cause you to give up, or change the way you present yourself to the world? Or will you stick to your guns?”

Don’t Buy Traffic

“Having an internal goal of “only” growing through organic function serves as a forcing function for authenticity. You can create video content, post on social media, and write great content on your site — but you cannot fool yourself into growth if you don’t have a marketing budget. You’ll see that the more real you are with your audience, the more you’ll grow.”

Don’t Offer Discount and Freebies

“As a small business, do not offer discounts and freebies to win an audience. A great audience will come for quality, custom solutions and customer service, not for discounts. Customers walking in for freebies are not organic and may not stay for long. As a small business, charge the right price but provide more value. Word-of-mouth will bring you organic customers and profitability.”

Focus on Your Craft

“An authentic audience is one that cares about what you’re doing and how it’s done. My business involves a craft, so most of our authentic audience is people who are interested in the quality and style of our work. Strategy-wise, attracting them means a lot of detailed pictures, outreach that respects their experience and intelligence, and technical details they’ll appreciate.”

Walk the Walk

“If you want to grow an authentic audience, then be authentic. Building a CEO brand for yourself by sharing your candid insights allows people to get to know you better and connect with you at a deeper level. Many entrepreneurs say they want an authentic audience but are unwilling to be transparent and candid. The input you put out will determine the output you receive.”

Focus on Consistency

“My audience grew exponentially after I committed to consistent weekly content and followed through by delivering weekly value. The people who subscribe to She Takes on the World know when they will hear from me, and what they can look forward to. Consistency builds trust and loyalty, and it shows you really care.”

Inject Yourself Into Your Messaging

“Few owners can project themselves through their craft. Designers, illustrators and other content-creators are lucky. Their creative works represent who they are. If you’re not in a creative industry, however, you’re going to have difficulty developing your business’s personality. Injecting yourself into your messaging can give your company a genuine voice, and with that comes a genuine following.”

Tell Your Story

“Your customers are interested in connecting with you and your business, as well as your products. Tell your story about how you got started, where you’ve failed, what your brand stands for, and where you are headed. People are looking to be a part of something greater than themselves. And in today’s culture, an entrepreneur building a company is a sexy thing your customer will want to support.”

Find and Share Your Voice

“Business owners will find no shortage of advice about how to build an audience online, but an authentic audience requires an authentic and personal voice. Of course you write for your audience, but unless you write and share content with an authentic personality, the audience won’t be interested. Don’t be afraid to be unique and individual, and to foreground your passions and personality.”