There are two ways to build a strong relationship with a member of our audience.
The first is the default for most creators:
Build trust and connection through a steady stream of dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of pieces of content mass-broadcasted to our podcast listeners, email subscribers, and social followers.
This broad but diffuse approach certainly has its benefits—namely its infinite scalability.
But it’s not without its drawbacks.
Specifically, relationships and trust built via a slow, steady drip of broadcast content take a long time to mature to the point of becoming genuine fans, customers, and advocates.
This isn’t a problem when you’ve already built up an audience of hundreds or thousands of people, scattered across the spectrum of trust and engagement.
Sure it might take six to twelve months for someone who discovers you today to develop into a true fan, customer, or advocate, but when you’ve got a healthy pipeline of audience members already at that point, you can afford to wait.
The same doesn’t hold true when you only have a small audience, however, and are desperate for feedback, engagement… and quite possibly, income.
Which brings us to the second approach to audience relationship building, which revolves around what I think of as getting potential audience member’s First Meaningful Engagement.
At its core, this approach is about inverting the equation and condensing months’ worth of slow-drip value into a single, high-touch interaction with just one person.
In my experience, a single meaningful interaction is often enough to turn a casual follower (or even complete stranger) into a genuine fan, advocate, and sometimes even a customer.
When practiced regularly, this approach is a guaranteed way to add dozens of new highly engaged audience members per month.
So how does it work?
The key word in the First Meaningful Engagement strategy is “Meaningful”.
To me, this boils down to the act of going out of our way to deliver above and beyond what might be expected of us in a given scenario.
Think about it.
It’s one thing to post a two-sentence response to a question from a potential (or existing) audience member on social media or in an online community.
It’s entirely another to write up a 500-word recommendation based on their specific scenario or to record a 5-minute Loom video talking through it.
No one does that.
Which means you stand out if you do.
Not only do you stand out, however.
For many people, this single act can skyrocket you to their most trusted source on your topic.
Because in one fell swoop, you’ve demonstrated that you:
- Know your stuff
- Understand their situation
- Are willing to go out of your way to help your audience… at personal cost to yourself
Plus, you’ve broken the ice and established a personal connection that makes them more likely to engage with you in the future… not to mention listen to your show.
All this from just 5 or 10 minutes of focused attention.
The best part is that while that attention may be focused on delivering a single meaningful engagement to just one person there’s a natural spillover effect.
When pursuing this strategy in a public forum (such as a post’s comments section) other members of the community will see your response, and be exposed to your knowledge and personalization, thus increasing your stock with them as well.
Now, if there’s one downside to this approach, it’s the lack of scalability.
You’re not going to convert tens of thousands of audience members through this approach.
But if your goal is gaining traction and growing a highly engaged core audience, this is easily the fastest way to do it.
It’s entirely possible to deliver 1–5 First Meaningful Engagements in an hour or less a day.
In a month, that adds up to 30–150 potential new audience members. In a year, 360 to 1,800.
I don’t know about you, but in my experience, having an audience of even a dozen—let alone a hundred—true believers makes a world of difference.
This is how to get them.