What the heck do I say to my audience? Whether you have 50 followers or 5000 there will come a time (probably many times) when you feel totally clueless about what to post.
Even though I’ve been creating content for years and have templates, scripts, and systems to figure this out, I still sometimes sit down, open my content doc and feel like I have no clue what to share next.
It’s only when I go back to my systems and data do I feel like I know what to share.
Which is why in this week’s podcast episode I’m sharing 3 ways to figure out what to say to your audience (to turn them into customers and clients) without having that “WTF do I even say??” moment again.
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Sometimes I start writing podcast episodes and I’m not sure I’m headed in the right direction and then I get writing and suddenly it comes together into something epic. Which is what happened with this episode.
This is going to be a good one so, make sure you grab something to write with because you’re going to want to take notes. Content planning tends to be one of the bigger marketing challenges and I’m giving you some specific stuff to do to help you come up with more effective content ideas and come up with them faster.
Here’s what I notice when it comes to content planning, no matter what platform you’re using – blog posts, Instagram posts, YouTube videos, podcast episodes. There’s a tendency to sit down, open a blank page, and try to come up with something brilliant and perfect in the moment that’s going to generate a million sales in 1 day.
You’re probably gonna stare at that page, feel frustrated that you can’t come up with anything, or get frustrated that none of your ideas feel good enough, so you give up and try again tomorrow. Sometimes that happens on repeat and you accidentally disappear from Instagram or stop sending emails to your list or create stuff you don’t really love just so you can show up consistently.
We GUESS at what we should be posting even if we have templates or a post list or a fill-in-the-blank document. I’ve created all of those things and sometimes I still sit down and stare at a blank Google doc trying to figure out what to say. I have to remind myself that I actually have systems for coming up with ideas and all I have to do is go back and look at the information or the data I’ve collected to figure out what I need to say to my audience next.
In order to grow your audience and turn them into customers or clients, you need to focus on 3 things.
1 >> You need to attract new people. This is probably going to be on a platform like Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or by getting in front of other people’s audiences with collaborations, pitching to media outlets, or being a podcast guest. You can grow your audience by offering free information, ideas, tips, advice, and content that is entertaining.
2 >> You need to warm up all of those new audience members. They need to get to know you as a person (what are your values, what are your experiences, how do you teach and share information or work with clients). They need to understand the transformation you can create and how you do that. Video is really helpful in this stage because it speeds up the getting to know you process.
I’ve told this story before but I’ll mention it again because it’s something I have to remind myself of often. I was watching Amanda Frances on stories one day. (She’s like the money manifestation queen and has a massive business.) She was in the middle of a launch and was asking her audience why they purchased from her. She put up a question box and then shared the answers a few hours later and person after person just wrote, “Your vibe.” That’s why people bought.
Which is important to remember because when you find yourself in a niche filled with other people doing similar things, that is what will make the difference. People will buy because they like you as a human and want to spend time working with or learning from you. Even if they can get similar information or transformation elsewhere.
And you will be much happier with the people who show up to purchase or hire you if you show up with all your quirks and tendencies and personality – you will attract people you enjoy working with. There’s nothing worse than getting into a 3-month contract or a big project with someone whose values and vibe don’t align with your own.
This is one of the things I love about running The Essentials – I genuinely enjoy spending time with the members and having discussions and working together because they’re people I would be friends with. I’m a total introvert and I’m over here thinking about how I can get in a room with everyone because I just like these people so much, and that makes my job easier and easier.
Warming up your audience is not just about building trust and making sure they know how you can help, but also focusing on the LIKE part of know, like, and trust. Being my cute little weird self is an easy way to make that happen and make it happen faster.
3 >> You need to turn them into customers or clients. You do this by pitching or mentioning your product or service over and over and over again. If you hang out with me on the podcast you’re going to hear me mention The Essentials. If you follow me on IG, you’re going to see/hear me mention The Essentials. If you’re on my email list you’re going to see me mention The Essentials.
Selling your stuff means talking about the before and after, sharing success stories from yourself or from people who have gone through your program, hired you, or purchased a product. Sharing results or positive feedback on the program or the service helps your audience members who are on the fence see that it can happen for them too.
It’s not one sales pitch a week or a month – I know what y’all are up to and I know you’re not selling enough. Selling is something that should be woven into every piece of content you create so that if someone comes into your orbit they are going to know who you are, what you do, what you offer no matter how long they hang out.
As you’re talking to your audience you need to keep in mind that everything you share is giving them an opportunity to take a step forward and get out of where they’re stuck and into the thing they want or where they want to be.
This is what trips up a lot of business owners selling their stuff and showing up. It’s because we immediately feel like we’re being annoying.
Here’s the difference between TV commercials and radio ads and billboards – things that feel annoying and make us believe that promotion is annoying.
The difference between all of those forms of advertising and advertising to people who are following you, or are on your email list, or listening to your podcast is that they took action to connect with you because they want to hear the information, they want someone to help them, they’re looking for a solution and they followed you in hopes of getting that.
If you have a solution and you are not putting it out there you’re holding your audience back, because they’re not going to DM you and ask if you have a program or service. They might not even look at your website. No, they are going to wait until your program or service shows up in front of them and then they will figure out if it’s what they need.
You have to show up first. You have to make the offer, many times, in many different ways.
Now that we’ve established the goal of content (growing your audience, warming them up, turning them into customers and clients), let’s talk about how to figure out what to share.
1 >> Survey them: Your current clients or customers have all the information you need to fill in those blanks. Why people were attracted to you, what got them excited and engaging, and why they decided to hire you or purchase. And while testimonials are helpful, when people can leave anonymous answers they tend to say more.
I have a whole episode on surveying your audience and getting useful feedback from them (that’s episode #44 if you want to listen) but here are a couple of quick suggestions that will help you figure out what to say to your audience.
When I send out a survey, I don’t ask a lot of multiple-choice questions, instead, I ask open-ended questions and I give them space to write. When I recently surveyed members in The Essentials I asked “what do you like about the courses,” “what do you like about coaching calls,” “what do you like about the Facebook group.” Then, instead of saying “what do you dislike” I asked what would make the lessons, coaching calls, Facebook group better? Which feels a little easier than asking what they dislike because then their answer is providing help instead of criticism and tends to result in more useful answers. Sometimes there isn’t anything big to fix but there are little adjustments that might help.
I also ask things like “why did you join The Essentials?” This question is in the onboarding survey in the first lesson. I also ask, “Why did you leave The Essentials?” in the offboarding survey that is automatically sent when someone cancels their membership.
Generally, when creating a marketing message you want to focus on where someone is now (the issues and experiences that they want to change) and where someone is hoping to go or what they want to accomplish. That’s what you get from the onboarding and offboarding surveys. Since they’re sent automatically, every time I go to write something all I have to do is open up that Airtable base and look at the information people have submitted.
2 >> Next you want to look at the content you’ve already shared. Data is really really useful in spending less time coming up with content ideas because you’re not pulling them out of thin air.
Look at your top Instagram posts, most viewed blog post, most clicked email. Look at the content that turned into lots of new followers or new clients/customers. If you don’t know where people are coming from when they purchase from you then that should be at the top of your research list.
Once you find that top content you can do a few things:
Write a part 2 or an updated version. You can use that idea but focus on a different topic. I was coming up with a topic for an Instagram live and so I scrolled through my past lives (which are all archived in my IGTV) and I saw the most popular one was about content planning mistakes, so I decided to do something similar and came up with “mistakes that keep you overwhelmed by your to-do list.”
You can also repurpose that blog post and turn it into an IG Reel, or take that podcast episode and turn it into a Reel. If it worked once there’s a really good chance it will work again in the same spot or on another platform.
3 >> Lastly, answer these questions: What sucks for your ideal customer or client right now? What are they worried about happening in the future if they don’t fix the problem? What do they need right now – what would be a quick stress relief? What dreams do they have for the future?
For my audience – it sucks that you have 50 things on your to-do list at all times and never feel like you’re getting ahead. It sucks that you’re watching other people (maybe even people selling the same stuff) who are having success when you aren’t yet. It sucks that you’re working so damn hard and clients or customers are showing up slow as molasses.
When you think about the future you’re worried that you’re going to keep putting in all this time and effort and money and end up in the same place with your business next year. You’re worried that people don’t really want what you have or that they’ll buy or hire you and be disappointed. You’re worried that you’ll disappoint your family, have to go back or stay at your day job.
On the other hand, what would make things easier right now? For my audience, it’s knowing exactly what to work on first. Having a post on Instagram get lots of comments. Finishing all of your work so you can have your nights and weekends off. Having a content system so showing up consistently feels easier.
And for the future: you all are working to create a business that generates a full-time income, that doesn’t take up every minute of your day, that makes an impact on your customers or clients, and a business that feels fun / inspiring / motivating to work on.
This is why creating content looks easy for some people. Because systems and data take a lot of pressure off. I have a system for figuring out what to say next and this means it takes me an hour to plan a month of content for my Instagram, email list, and podcast. I already know what I’m going to post on each platform for the entire month. Now all I have to do is sit down and create the content.
There is a full training on my content planning system in The Essentials – we go through this content matrix in-depth and I share how I plan all my content for every platform in one spot in Artable (which will probably blow your mind – xosarah.com/essentials give you instant access. I’m in the Essentials Facebook group every day so if you get stuck at any point I’m always around to answer questions.)
Now, if you’re just starting your business and you don’t have an audience to survey or content to get data from, you’ve got a couple options.
If you’re literally starting from zero, no clients or customers yet, you’re going to make this up. You’re going to do the thing I just told you not to. You’re going to guess and be very specific – picture your audience struggling with what you can fix for them and identify feelings, thoughts, actions that are happening. Picture them with everything fixed or figured out – what do those feelings, thoughts, actions look like now?
If you do have some customers or clients, pick your favorites (who would you want to work with on repeat if you could just clone them) and ask them all the questions we just went over. A testimonial is great, but really understanding their experience and motivations will help your entire marketing plan.
Lastly – have fun with it. It feels like there are rules because trends happen and everyone seems to be doing the same thing, but they’re not. There are millions of people on Instagram so if you have a weird idea or want to do something you’ve never seen before, go for it. Have fun with your audience. Then you’ll attract cute little weirdos just like yourself and showing up will be a joy. You’ll feel like you’re talking to real people because your audience will be filled with people you genuinely want to connect with.