“Kaye, how do I grow my audience?” 👈🏻 I’m pretty certain I hear this more than any other question!
Yep, for most of the brilliant entrepreneurs in my orbit, this is the #1 goal that I hear them articulate… They want audience growth.
… And for good reason!
Growing your audience gives you access to more humans whom you can potentially reach, serve, and impact. It eventually leads to more sales. And it’s also one of the keys to scaling what you do in business.
And for all of those reasons, it’s really the lifeblood of a thriving brand.
So in this post, I’m going to share the three most powerful strategies that you can use in your brand – to grow your audience!
Oh, and in case you’re new around here, I do want to take a sec to assure you that I know what I’m talking about here… 😉
Over the course of about a decade, I’ve grown my own email list to over 30,000 incredible humans. I’ve had over a 1,000 people in my online courses and programs. I’ve had 100,000+ entrepreneurs take my brand personality quiz… and I’ve seen some pretty healthy growth on some of my social “outposts,” too.
So, the insights you’ll read below are coming from years of “behind the scenes” work in my own brand – and on the brands of hundreds of entrepreneurs like you. These are the strategies that have worked the best for me and for clients and students – to grow an audience.
So, let’s get into it… So you can get growing!
(As per usual, you can press play on the video version of this blog – or you can continue reading to get the details!)
First, let’s define “Growing Your Audience.”
In the simplest terms… You need to get your brand, your message, and your content, in front of people who have never heard of you before. This is the “ticket” to audience growth.
Because audience growth = showing up in front of *new* people who have an interest in what you do.
So we’re always looking for places where there are existing groups of humans that would be a match. And we’re basically looking for effective and efficient ways to show up for those audiences.
My personal favorite strategies fall into three main groupings…
Audience Growth Strategy #1: Paid Advertising
Let’s start here… just to get the obvious one out of the way, right? 😉
One of the easiest, most scalable methods for reaching new people is the one that’s ‘old as time.’ It’s paid advertising.
Whether you run ads on social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube) or in your local newspaper (or anywhere else), paying to place your messages in front of an existing audience can be wildly effective – when done well.
The people you want to reach are on Facebook. They’re on Instagram. They’re listening to the radio. They’re reading a magazine… They naturally gravitate to certain places. And you’re inserting some type of content or call to action for those people and inviting them to check out your content and/or offers.
Side note: When it comes to ads, I have been fortunate to learn from my client and mentor, Scott Oldford. He is an incredible resource when it comes to some really next level advertising methods to get in front of new people. Scott teaches much more than ads, but I surely attribute by knowledge and success with them – to him. Head over here to check out his resources and his brand. (Brand co-created by yours truly! 🤓)
Now… In my business, the best advertising platforms for me have been Facebook and Pinterest… so let me share a bit about my strategies there…
Growing My Audience with Pinterest Ads (aka Promoted Pins)
I’ve always been a voracious Pinterest pinner, so that may be one reason that I gravitated there when looking at places to pay to promote.
Plus, the user base on Pinterest tends to be female, which aligns well with my existing audience. Pinners also tend to be more affluent, which generally means they have more discretionary income to invest in their brands.
But the thing I love most about Pinterest is that it’s a very search-based and intent-based platform. (In fact, it’s the third largest search engine on the internet, second only to Google and Youtube… More on that below.)
When I promote pins on Pinterest, they tend to reach people who are *already searching* for ideas around brand strategy, brand psychology, entrepreneurship… even brand archetypes. So, rather than interrupting their reason for being on the platform, my ads often actually meet a need that people have right in that moment. Pretty powerful, right?
So, those are all the reasons I love using Pinterest ads. (If you’d like to learn more about my overall Pinterest marketing strategy and results, check out this Youtube video in which I reveal all! 🎩)
Growing My Audience with Facebook Ads
Meanwhile… Facebook allows you to get really granular with your audience targeting, which is one of its big strengths. (Pinterest is catching up, but they still don’t offer the segmenting and targeting tools that Facebook does.)
Overall, my best performing Facebook advertising strategy for reaching new (cold) audiences has been using “lookalike audiences.” Note that this is not a strategy that you can use right out of the gate – because you have to start building your own audience first. But once you have at least 1,000 people in a single country (usually in your email list to start), then Facebook can extrapolate that data and find a million more people who closely resemble your initial audience.
To use lookalike audiences, I upload my email list to Facebook and then I generate a lookalike audience based on those humans. So, basically Facebook helps me find more people who aren’t in my orbit yet – but behave or look similar to the humans that already are here on my list. (The idea is that those people are more likely to also be interested in me and my content, right?)
Offer something free to grow your list of leads.
And just a quick note here… Though this isn’t meant to be a deep dive into my Facebook or Pinterest ad strategies, I will share this important piece of the puzzle…
Offering something of value – for free – has been the best way for me to grow my audience using ads. When someone is brand new to me, and they’ve never heard of me or experienced any of my content, I extend something for exactly ZERO PENNIES!
This is called a “lead magnet” in marketing speak. 🤓
So, the offer I’m placing there in my ads is literally “no risk.” New people get a chance to “try before they buy” and experience my content and solutions for free. In exchange, I get permission to stay in touch with them via email… where I can have all kinds of other conversations with them.
(I’ve offered all types of lead magnets over the years. The one that has performed best for me (and resulted in massive audience growth!) is my brand personality quiz. If you want a high-converting lead magnet that grows your audience, list, and sales, you should TOTALLY consider a quiz! You can learn more about that here.)
Okay, ads ads ads! Now that we’ve got THAT covered, let’s move on to strategy #2…
Audience Growth Strategy #2: Leveraging Other People’s Audiences (OPA!)
Ads are great, but what if you want a powerful audience building strategy that doesn’t require a big monetary investment on your part?
Ahhh, I’m so glad you asked, Genius!
Enter… OPA. Other People’s Audiences. This one might be my favorite…
Getting in front of other people’s audiences (that are aligned) has been a total winner of a strategy for me – and I know it can be for you, too.
Here’s how it works: Other entrepreneurs, businesses, media outlets… they have already built audiences. Your goal is to identify those that you can get in front of – without paying money for that privilege. Instead, the currency you’re “paying” with is usually your expertise and some brilliant content.
There are a few ways that this strategy typically plays out. (This is not an exhaustive list; you can get creative when you pitch these types of win-win arrangements!)
- You could get interviewed on somebody else’s podcast.
- You could collaborate with another creator to co-create a video on Youtube or IG Live.
- You could pitch yourself for some press or for a TV show appearance.
- You could propose a guest post on someone’s blog – or even their IG profile.
- You could get your product or your service highlighted in a magazine or a website that generates editorial content.
- You could invite others to become affiliates for your courses or offers, so that when sales result, they receive a financial incentive.
All of these are fantastic ways to get in front of new audiences.
Now, here’s the key. (Lean in! This is super-important —>) These strategies are relatively time intensive. To make this work, you’ll need to spend time pitching, and then you’ll also need to spend time to create the free content.
So, to get good ROI from OPA (I do love me some good acronyms…🤣), it’s critical that the audiences you get in front of are highly targeted and very closely aligned with your own.
In fact, it’s ideal to look for audiences who have already invested to be there. For example, if you’re selling consultations and services, you may want to aim to be a guest teacher in somebody’s paid program – one that is complementary to what you sell. If you’re a product-based business, then this might look like getting your product included in a paid gift or monthly subscription box.
In these cases, the audience is highly-invested in being there. As a result, they’re more likely to actually use the product, or to value your service, because they are literally paying to access it. And when people pay, they pay attention.
And remember… While OPA doesn’t require the big financial spend that ads do, it does require a significant time investment. Because it’s all about relationships.
The best opportunities will be with entrepreneurs and media outlets that are discerning. So, you’ll need to spend time building trust before pitching – or before they will approach you for collaborations. For that reason, the drawback to an OPA strategy is that it isn’t super scalable. It’s powerful – but not as scalable as ads, for example.
If you’re interested in getting started with some OPA, here’s what I recommend…
- Start by creating a list of potential partners for whom a collaboration would be a win-win.
- Next, start the process of reaching out to them, offering your expertise, and offering yourself as a content creator for their site / program / publication… Be specific about what you’re proposing. Make it easy for them to see the value – and easy to say yes.
- Lastly, keep at it. This is a little bit of “a numbers game.” The timing won’t always be right, right away. Be sure to pitch multiple people and opportunities, because some will come to fruition – and many won’t.
Keep at it consistently, because this is a strategy that snowballs over time and works really, really well!
Okay, moving on to strategy #3…
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Audience Growth Strategy #3: Creating Content That’s Searchable (SEO)
Oooooo…. I know I keep saying that all of these strategies are “my favorite”… but this one is so potent!
Over the years, I’ve seen the power of intentionally creating content that has a high “findability” factor. (And, yes, that is the scientific term. 😉)
But seriously, creating content and placing it where people will FIND it in search… this is one of the most sustainable, easeful audience growth strategies out there.
That being said, have you ever seen that venn diagram? The one you sometimes see that shows that “fast, cheap, and good” rarely overlap? (Here’s an example of a fun blog post that uses this idea.)
… Well, the truism that venn diagram illustrates applies here, too. When you use this strategy, it’s often low-cost, and reeeeaaalllly good… but it’s also pretty slow.
But, did I mention it’s really good? 🤣It may be slow, but using search engines to market is really effective, so I do recommend it if you are in business for the long haul (which I know you are!).
So, what does this look like?
We create content – with the express intent of being discovered in search by new audiences. And we optimize it with keywords that are relevant – so that it can be found when people search on places (search engines) like Google, Youtube, or Pinterest.
This is essentially 95% of my YouTube strategy. I create content on my channel that is optimized for certain keywords. My goal here is for people (who’ve never heard of Kaye Putnam!) to find me when they’re searching for brand-related keywords. I want them to find a specific video, watch it… and hopefully subscribe, binge-watch, and perhaps even follow the calls to action I’ve added – when they want to learn even more from me.
You can do this on other platforms, too. I mentioned Pinterest above. And, of course, Google is the Big Kahuna of all the search engines. So, I know many entrepreneurs that invest time in making their websites and blogs SEO-friendly for Google (SEO = Search Engine Optimization) – and reap massive rewards over time with that strategy.
And, to some degree, you can work to increase “findability” – even on visibility platforms that aren’t technically search engines. There are methods of creating content that is more viral than others.
(Hat tip to my dear friend, Katya Varbanova, who has a membership in which you get access to a system and templates that help you create content on social – like Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn – that is graphic-based and designed for virality.)
Which audience growth strategy will you try next?
As promised, I spilled the beans on three of the most powerful strategies for audience growth. We covered:
- Paying for ads on platforms where your people consume content;
- Leveraging other people’s audiences (OPA!); and
- Increasing your own content’s “findability.”
I hope you’ve been inspired by some of these “behind the scenes” peeks at what has worked best for my brand (and for my clients’ and students’ businesses) to grow an audience of raving fans!
Which one of these strategies will you lean into next? I’d love to hear your ideas and plans in the comments below! 👇