You've had some success with your public message; you've seen the changed lives, the engaged and expectant faces, the new hope generated by your speaking to crowds - you'd like to take the power of your message to a wider group of people but don't know how or where to start.
You've heard how others have leveraged their business online and are growing their influence exponentially and enjoying the side benefit of a growing 'passive' income. And to be honest, you might feel some of these 'speakers' aren't as good as you and haven't a message as transformational as yours and yet they are seeing incredible online success - doesn't seem fair - what is their secret?
In this article, I want to unpack some of the lessons I've learnt in helping speaking businesses create their online movement and leverage their message beyond their normal audience.
1. The Movements Dream - scaling up from great roots
As with any influential and growing entity, the roots are all important. I was tempted to use the phrase 'foundation' but we are talking about an organic entity here, not a structure or institution, but a living community of people catching your message, applying the ideas to their lives and then gossiping the message to others. This online community is designed to spread, to become exponential, to become a movement; its alive and needs nurture.
Time needs to be spent working among the roots of your new movement, checking the health of the roots, watering and feeding the ideas and the business development philosophy behind your new community - is it scalable, does the message need refining to make it 'stick' better, what would your perfect business be like, are you ready for a scaled-up business or is your new community going to flounder and fade?
There is so much digital content around about how to start your online business, what tools to use, what skills you need. When I first started I spent the first year or so in an overloaded ‘new tools coma', paralysed with fear that I'd use the wrong strategy or pick the wrong tool. So yes, do reflect, learn new skills and do trial new tools but also get going after that season of reflection – create a ‘lean startup’, get something to market that can then be optimised and developed and then, and only then, you’ll get back that precious feedback – what’s working, what’s not connecting, how can we improve? Its like that old saying about how you can only steer a moving ship – get moving, get doing, get experimenting, ask lots of questions of customers and clients and improve your message and delivery accordingly.
Oh and do drill down to find your core purpose because when times get tough and they will, you will need your core purpose to carry you through and motivate you.
2. Persona Building
Understanding the needs of your audience has always been the key to great speaking so speakers are well equipped to take this skill and apply it to the online world. But your persona-building needs to be upped a gear – creating a well-thought through profile of your ideal customer – their persona. Think deeply about their demographics, educational background, career aspirations, big questions they are asking, cultural emphasis, biggest challenges they are facing, social media platforms they’re on, TV/Films/YouTube stars that they watch and their financial resources.
“Then connect your offer and your message with their needs and aspirations = success every time.”
3. Build your Funnel
We now get a bit technical because its one thing to have the strategy planned but getting the online infrastructure (or digital funnel) in place will take time, energy and financial investment - if you don’t want to do it yourself.
At the top of your funnel you’ll run your social media, paid ads and produce great free content – this will attract people further down into your community, where they will leave some contact details and you can start building quality relationships.
The middle and heart of any online community is the ‘Customer Relationship Management’ Software – the CMS. Here you can keep track of your growing network and host great and relevant responses to their evolving needs. A good CRM will tell you where people are on their development journey and suggest what they might need next. It will help you build relationships of trust and integrity where you always follow-up and offer great service because the CMS reminds you of tasks that need doing or the automations are programmed to do it for you. After playing with lots of CMSs, I recommend HubSpot as their CMS is free up for up to 1 million members and you can run automations like email autoresponders and social media posting (in fact I loved HubSpot so much I became a HubSpot Agency partner – but that’s another story).
Now for the meat on the bones – the learning platform on which you’ll build your community. This is where they will communicate with you and with each other, make payments, manage their account and where they’ll attend webinars, download resources or watch motivational videos. Personally, I use WordPress with LearnDash, an incredibly powerful learning platform plugin, but there are other solutions out there too.
4. Get your Analytics in Place and Optimise
Of all the steps, this is the key to your ongoing survival and development as an online speaking business. When you have the statistics from your website visits, your social media posts, your paid FaceBook Ads, etc… you can take a genuinely data-driven approach. Cut out what isn’t working and invest more into what is. Powerful online optimisation tools now exist to help you track and develop your business impact and progress. Again HubSpot can do this or Google Analytics is excellent.
5. Get some Advice and join a Community of like-minded purposeful people
There is nothing better than connecting with those that have already walked the path and with those that are on the path with you. So find those speakers that are starting online and hang out together – they’re not competitors, whats great about the internet is that it’s too big to have competitors – they are colleagues, friends and fellow pilgrims on a walk towards their own successful online movement.
There are no competitors online - only fellow friends and pilgrims
In concluding, when your roots are healthy, then is the time to scale, to push above the ground like a blossoming plant. Don’t scale too early - scaling involves optimising and working out what is really working - which Ad, which copy, what social media platform is best for you. Then and only then, can you invest more time, money and energy in seeing that new 'plant' reach for the sky and scale its growth.