The New York Yankees took great pride in giving the media a tour of their new ballpark before it opened. They took them to the seats behind home plate – some of the most expensive real estate in New York – and highlighted all the great amenities and fantastical space.
As they wound their way to the “cheap” seats in the stadium – the upper deck area – some in the media noticed what wasn’t there – concession stands. Where would a fan have to go to buy their beer and hot dogs?
One lone media rep voiced the question to the Yankees. By opening day, the stadium added concession kiosks in the upper deck and eventually added permanent stands.
ESPN’s Ryan McGee relayed that story (he had been on the tour in 2009) on the Marty & McGee show this past weekend, and it got me thinking.
Imagine a mistake of that magnitude in the stadium that cost over $2.3B (yes, billion) and involved hundreds if not thousands of decision-makers. No one invested in, recognized, or spoke up for the upper-deck fans.Never forget your upper-deck fans in your #ContentBusiness. They may be your most loyal and may upgrade to better seats down the road, says @AnnGynn. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet
If that can happen to an organization like the Yankees, it also can happen in your content business. You can become so focused on one segment that you forget your “upper-deck” fans. And that’s a mistake because those fans may be your most loyal, and some may eventually upgrade to the seats behind home plate.
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But you can take steps to prevent that from happening by understanding and involving your audience at every level in the content business. Here are some ideas to help:
Walk through your content experience for your audience at every level
Have you ever jumped on your content platform(s) wearing the hat of an audience member? What promotion or product first attracts your attention? What do you do next? Then what do you do? Do you reach a dead end and move on to another site or channel?
How does the experience differ for someone who just learned about your content products (the upper-deck-seat folks) compared to someone who has consumed your content and bought your products for a while (the home-plate-seat crowds)?
Now, some creators may walk through this exercise to understand the functionality of the website (i.e., how many clicks to get to the desired content or the subscribe form). And that’s good, but what I’m talking about here is the content experience based on the audience at every level and their interests and intent.
Frankly, I don’t think you, as the entrepreneur who built the business, can sufficiently pretend to be an audience member to give an accurate assessment. Instead, ask three to five people who represent different tiers in your audience to give you feedback.
For example, a newsletter entrepreneur should look at your subscriber list. Reach out to someone who signed up in the last month and opened one or so newsletters. Then, find someone who has been a subscriber for a little bit and opens up at least once a month. Finally, pick a subscriber who signed up a while ago and regularly opens your newsletter.Walk through the content experience with different members of your audience to learn what they think works well and what doesn't. #ContentEntrepreneur #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet
Have a conversation with each one – yes, an actual person-to-person conversation. While a survey can be helpful, a discussion allows you to ask follow-up questions or get clarification on an answer. All this can inform how you see the content experience and any adjustments necessary to deliver the experience you really want them to have.
Sell an entry-level content product
Some content entrepreneurs build and grow their audiences in hopes of converting them into buyers of their premium product(s). After all, if you sell a higher-priced item, you should bring in more revenue. That could be, but you also may miss the opportunity to retain audience members who can’t afford the premium prices. They also are more likely to walk away from your business because they don’t think they’re the right fit.Creators should offer lower-priced content products to convert audience members who can't afford or aren't ready to commit to their premium products, says @AnnGynn. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet
Sure, you should offer free content (i.e., content marketing for your content business), but also add entry-level-priced content products. For example, an entrepreneur who charges three or four figures for their online courses might add a quarterly class offering for just one or two figures. (You don’t even have to create the class from scratch, just reconfigure some existing content into the short format.)
True, it won’t be a big revenue stream, but it’s a good way to let them test the paid waters in your business. Then when they are able or ready to invest more, they know where to go.
Create an editorial advisory board with every level of your audience
When I worked in newspapers years ago, the editorial board had a once-a-week meeting with its advisory board. A group of interested community members would participate in the discussion to give their perspectives on a multitude of topics. It worked well because the editors could hear directly from voices that they didn’t hear in the newsroom.
Content entrepreneurs can do something similar. Ask your community their thoughts on your editorial plans, content products, pricing, etc. Assemble a group of people who represent multiple facets of your audience. You should look to be as inclusive from both demographic and socioeconomic perspectives. But make sure to be inclusive from your audience perspective, from newcomers with mild interest to your most rabid fans.
Bring the group together at least quarterly. Set an agenda for each meeting and let them know ahead of time so they can reflect on what you plan to discuss. It helps to stick with a singular topic (or maybe two) to have a more valuable conversation.
In between meeting times, you can follow up with the group or individual members to get their reactions when you need gut checks on your business activities with your audience at every level.
Hit a home run to the upper deck
Think about your audience at every level – not just those who can make you the most money. In doing so, you build a stronger business where all people interested in your content tilt have a place. You also will have created an expansion model where the audience can increase their investment (time and money) with your content.
And that’s a grand slam.
About the author
Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.