Have you noticed how social media pundits use the term followers? They use this word to describe people who are reading their blog-posts, downloading their content and connecting with them on social sites. The big goal, according to the social media pundits, is to get thousands of followers.
But is that really a viable goal? Will it really help service firm leader achieve their business objectives? I’m not convinced of that. Here are my reasons and also my recommendations for connecting with people to achieve meaningful business value.
What matters most is not how many people are following you but instead how strong your connections are to these people.
I struggle with the concept of followers for three reasons:
- I dislike the religious overtones.
- If there are followers, then there are leaders.
- Why would someone “follow” you, me or anyone else?
I dislike the religious overtones of the term followers. It strikes me the same way as the sensibilities I hear from the internet marketing gurus. They use the terms like “disciples” and “marketing apostles” to describe people who consume their content. I don’t know about you, but I’m not trying to build a cult. I’m trying to run a business.
If there are followers, then there are leaders and this raises an important question. What is the character of those leaders? I was schooled in the notion that servant-leadership is true leadership. This means leaders exist to ensure the success of their constituents, those entrusted to their care. When I peruse the content that exists today, I often ask myself – whom is this content designed to benefit – the leader or the followers? I’ll let you be the judge.
But I also struggle to understand why someone would follow you, me or anyone else? This really is the heart of the matter for me. I don’t know about your average work day, but in my average day I barely have time to follow the lunch-line. No. I don’t believe people really follow.
So-called followers, in my opinion, are busy executives who have big goals on their plate and not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Sound familiar?
I believe, as professional service leaders, we have the amazing opportunity not to create followers but instead to empower those who connect with us to achieve their goals, realize their opportunities and overcome their challenges. This is why content marketing exists.
Smaller is better
I have a sense that the biggest myth about modern marketing tactics is that you need a huge list of followers to achieve your business goals. I do not believe that to be true. In my experience, most professional service firms sell a limited number of products and services to niche markets. Sometimes those markets are industry-specific and sometimes they are geographically specific.
Most professional service firms would achieve all of their client acquisition and profitability goals if they could just connect with the right decision-makers. Usually this universe of prospective decision-makers is measured in the hundreds of contacts, not thousands of contacts.
The impact imperative
If you focus on a finite group of decision-makers, you actually put yourself in the best possible position to succeed. Why? Because then you can ask these three most important questions:
- What goals are my ideal clients trying to achieve?
- What opportunities excite them?
- What challenges frustrate them?
If you can definitively answer these three questions for the finite universe of people you hope to serve, you can then create content that will amaze them. This is the most important goal for the modern marketer, not growing your list of followers.
The impact imperative is the key to realizing your growth goals. When you deliver insights to prospective ideal clients about their goals, opportunities and challenges, you set yourself apart from the pack. You become a trusted advisor. You become someone not that they follow, but someone they like and even admire.
So if you are trying to grow your service business, acquire new clients and differentiate from competitors, focus on your ideal clients. Come to understand them deeply. Create content that looks at the world from their point of view.
What matters most is not how many people are following you, but instead, how strong your connections are to these people.