Why Audience Development Must Come Before Business Development
I was recently asked to help a mid sized software company devise a marketing plan.
This organization claims they just don’t get marketing, and no one at the organization really owns it, so they struggle.
Of course struggle is a relative concept. They have a head of sales, head of service and head of product – all of whom do marketing. In fact, I believe that’s the tricky part these days – it’s harder to determine where marketing lives because it’s really everyone’s job.
This organization, as you may have picked up, does not have a head of marketing and that’s an issue that’s starting to cause them some heartburn.
I don’t believe I’ll recommend they create a CMO position, however. They actually have many core marketing functions successfully distributed across the organization. What they don’t have though, is what I might call a head of audience development. They don’t have anyone driving their CEO’s incredible thought leadership. They don’t have anyone in charge of owned, paid and earned media assets. They don’t have anyone who’s primary concern is building an audience drawn to their unique approach to addressing the challenges of a rapidly evolving industry.
My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jeffrey K. Rohrs. He is the Vice President of Marketing Insights for ExactTarget, a salesforce.com company, and author of AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers
In Audience, Rohrs boldly claims states that, “proprietary audience development is now a core marketing responsibility,” and I concur.
An engaged audience is an essential driver of value. Organizations that build, nurture and serve an audience will outflank and outprofit their competitors every time.
Your clients will likely come from your audience but so will your referrals, partners, shares, mentions and permission to pitch your goods.
An audience can elevate an organization’s brand by pushing their message through industry influencers. An audience can pull business through channels by clamoring for goods and services in social media.
Of course, Rohrs is also quick to point out that an audience is a gift and unless you treat it as such you will lose it.
“We don’t own our audiences. They can leave at any time. We cannot force them to engage in our content. They’ve given us a great gift… we must be sure to thank them every day with epic content marketing.”
Every marketer today must understand this significant shift in thinking and embrace community and audience building as a significant initiative – or perhaps even elevate audience development to a stand alone function.