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Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers

Jeffrey K. Rohrs

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eBook - ePub


Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers

Jeffrey K. Rohrs

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About This Book

Proprietary audience development is now a core marketing responsibility.

Every company needs audiences to survive. They are where you find new customers and develop more profitable relationships. And yet, most companies today treat their email, mobile, and social media audiences like afterthoughts instead of the corporate assets they are.

With AUDIENCE, Jeff Rohrs seeks to change this dynamic through adoption of The Audience Imperative. This powerful mandate challenges all companies to use their paid, owned, and earned media to not only sell in the short-term but also increase the size, engagement, and value of their proprietary audiences over the long-term.

As content marketing professionals have discovered, the days of "build it and they will come" are long gone. If you're looking for a way to gain a lasting advantage over your competition, look no further and start building your email, Facebook, Google, Instagram, mobile app, SMS, Twitter, website, and YouTube audiences to last.

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Part I

The Audience Imperative

Audiences are all around you. They are direct, responsive, and extremely cost-effective. They’re also new, constantly evolving, and quick to anger if you cross them.
Your company needs audiences to survive. If you aren’t building, engaging, and activating proprietary audiences of your own, you’re falling behind.
It’s high time you discovered why.

Chapter 1

Audiences as Assets: Think Like The Boss

[T]he audience is not brought to you or given to you; it’s something that you fight for. You can forget that, especially if you’ve had some success. Getting an audience is HARD. Sustaining an audience is HARD. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.1
—Bruce Springsteen
Quick! What are the most important assets of your business today? Your brand? Intellectual property? Physical facilities? Inventory? Employees?
All of these are likely answers; however, there’s one asset that is constantly missing when I ask companies this very question. Audiences.
Yes, audiences.
This answer tops your list if you’re in the media, sports, or entertainment industries, because you’re in the actual business of putting people in seats. You build audiences for a living and know the competitive advantage to be gained if your audience is bigger, better, and more energetic than the competition’s. Media companies build READERS (print), LISTENERS (radio), and VIEWERS (television). Football teams feed off of FANS. And Lady Gaga . . . well, she loves her “Little Monsters.”
Even lay consumers who aren’t in media or entertainment inherently understand that each of these audiences has monetary value. Loyal FANS pay cash for tickets to a live event, and a percentage of that money goes to the performers. The equation is simple: bigger audiences = more revenue.
You may think that this equation doesn’t apply to you if you work outside of an audience-centric industry, but it does. Do you pay for advertising? Then audience matters. Do you have a website? Then audience matters. Do you want to grow your business? Then audience matters.
Audience is the bedrock upon which every business is built. After all, what were your customers before they were customers? They were members of some audience that was exposed to your products and services.
Not that long ago, companies were totally dependent on print, radio, and television gatekeepers to reach audiences. Today, however, every company can build its own global audiences via websites, mobile apps, email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest (just to name a few). The rapid adoption of mobile devices and social media also gives those same audiences the ability to communicate right back to companies—often, in very public fashion.
Ahh . . . that sounds familiar. You’ve got “a young gal” who works on social media, “a guy” who is in charge of email—and you have some videos on YouTube. Your website “kind of” works on smartphones and you’ve got a LinkedIn profile for your company, so you must be building audiences correctly. Right?
Wrong. These are siloed tactics that produce siloed audiences. Moreover, they’re often managed by people with conflicting objectives and few organizational incentives to collaborate. What I’m advocating—what this book is about—is the creation of an entirely new marketing discipline focused solely on Proprietary Audience Development. To fully appreciate the importance of this cause, we had better check in with The Boss.

The Boss Is Worried

Bruce Springsteen (@Springsteen) is no stranger to proprietary audiences. With over 120 million albums sold worldwide and thousands of live concerts under his belt, he lives for them. And while you might think a veteran performer would be the last person to worry about finding an audience—you’d be wrong. After four decades as a performer, Bruce remains concerned about his ability to build and sustain an audience for his product (i.e., his music) in the Internet age. His quote at the beginning of this chapter sums the challenge up perfectly:
Getting an audience is HARD. Sustaining an audience is HARD. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.
If The Boss is worried about getting an audience, shouldn’t you be worried? Shouldn’t your boss be?
The question of where the next sale will come from has always dogged businesses. Indeed, the entire field of capital-M Marketing rose up to address such fears head on. Over the years, marketers have used a combination of creativity, messaging, and well-placed advertising to help their companies generate the vast majority of their sales—so much, in fact, that we completely lost any fear about on-demand audiences disappearing. After all, there were always print publications, radio stations, and television networks out there, all willing to put your product in front of an audience at a moment’s notice in exchange for cold, hard advertising dollars.
And then, the Internet happened.
New, interactive channels fragmented consumer attention, toppled traditional information gatekeepers, and decimated the business models of traditional media. Consider that:
  • From 2008 to 2012, daily newspaper circulation dropped 26.6 percent in the United Kingdom and 14.9 percent in the United States.2
  • Twenty-nine percent of TV viewing is time-shifted thanks to DVRs, VOD, and Web-streaming platforms (and 41 percent of recorded shows go unwatched).3
  • By 2020, the average consumer will own 50 Internet-enabled devices.4
In Bruce’s industry, once all-powerful, taste-making radio stations now stand as homogeneous shells of corporate efficiency where fewer owners play fewer artists to fewer listeners. Record stores are on life support, sustained by a few die-hard music enthusiasts, vinyl addicts, and the resale market for CDs. As for the music-buying experience, it has shifted from tactile and personal to virtual and impulsive. Practically overnight, the biggest artists went from selling entire albums to pushing MP3 singles for 99 cents a pop.
This is why The Boss is worried. The Internet, mobility, and social media have drastically altered a formerly stable and profitable means of manufacture, distribution, and promotion. Traditional influencers who propelled his albums to platinum-level sales have lost power. And if Bruce can’t find new, cost-effective ways to reach audiences, his records won’t sell, his concerts won’t sell out, and his cash register won’t ring.
But we know this hasn’t happened. The Boss is doing just fine. His 2012 album, Wrecking Ball, topped the charts—his tenth album to do so. He has amassed an incredibly loyal audience over the course of his 40 years in the music industry, and as times have changed, so have the ways they follow him. Instead of learning about his new album from a radio DJ, they hear about it directly from his website, email, or Twitter account. Or they hear about it from a new tastemaker—a blogger or fellow FAN on Facebook. Whatever the case, The Boss has retained his following because his management understands the absolute nec...

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