Don’t mass broadcast, build an audience

Image credit: REWORK (book by Jason Fried & David Hansson)

Every single time an advert comes on while I am watching a television show, I turn to my phone, flip through channels to see other shows or often, I just mute the damn thing so I can continue reading a book or writing an article for

The point of this is to offer my personal experience with interacting with mass marketing.

The truth is, it does not work as well it used to. Now, it’s become a spray and pray method.

As human beings, I’ve noticed that we find it difficult to change course and adopt a different a way of thinking and doing because we have deep knowledge of things as they stand. So, we stubbornly attempt to maintain the status quo. Even if it hurts us, at least we are masters of the game in its current form and we take solace from that.

So we pray that if we continue down this well-worn path, results will materialise somehow along the way.

The notion of instead building an audience is one I got anchored on when I read the business book, Rework. Jason Fried and David Hansson draw from their own experiences running their business, Basecamp. They talk about how they built a blog — Signal v. Noise — where they write about product updates, new hires, their learnings and also air strong views related to software and design. The blog, according to the book, draws in over 100 000 readers a day!

And here is the punchline: they never buy those people’s attention. Readers return to the platform well on their own to seek out new content.

That’s the value of building an audience instead of mass broadcasting to a larger number of people, hoping some of them will be hooked.

Of course, there is something to sacrifice in order to achieve this. First, you’ll have to let go of the deeply ingrained habit of throwing money at problems — when you want more customers, buying more advertising in magazines, television, billboards or radio. You need to change your posture and be willing to put in the steady work of writing or creating videos (or hiring someone who can) about the goings-on in your business.

The catch? Patience!

Building an engaged audience takes more time to build than conceptualising a TV, billboard or radio spot, but the value is far deeper for your clients.

Case in point: digital media entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, runs web shows. #AskGaryVee is a YouTube show where you can ask any question about business, branding, marketing, et cetera and he replies on the episodes. #DailyVee is a reality type show he does and publishes via Facebook that follows his hustle and life.

When I started following Gary, he had just over 400 000 Likes on his Facebook page. Today, he’s sitting at over 1 million. This did not happen in sixty days. He had to consistently put out amazing content — add value upfront — for his current audience so he could draw more people.

As a parting shot, I’ll leave you with Gary’s wisdom about his web show’s business model. Gary does his web shows without any advertising and as you can guess, many people think he’s wasting time and resources. Gary is hellbent on delivering value upfront, proving his knowledge and thus creating leverage for his brand. At the back of that, he drives sales for Vayner Media and gets public speaking bookings (he is one of the busiest speakers in the world) and he achieved that through his content.

To backtrack a little, a talk he delivered in 2008 went viral online and from that point on, his popularity skyrocketed. And no, it was not an overnight success! Gary had been creating content for a while when that one video thrust him to greatness.

And therein lies the most important factor here: patience to keep creating value upfront and deepen the value for your audience so you can drive sales for your business.

If you’ve not realised, communication that works best is the sort that is personal.