One of my favorite lines from Michael Scott (played by Steve Carrel) of the NBC TV Show The Office is when he’s trying to explain to Oscar why he spent $1200 on a piece of fitness equipment. It’s a Core Blaster Extreme. Scott says:
“That is by far, the best way to strengthen your core. This machine… You sit on a stabilizer ball, you put your feet into the power stirrups, you reach up and you grab onto the super-rod, and you twist, and you twist, and you twist. It strengthens your entire core. Your back core, your arm core, your… The Marine Corps actually uses it. I think that’s how they got ‘core.'”
The extended comedy in this is that we often confuse what core actually means, and don’t apply ourselves to understanding one of the (pardon the pun) core principles of strengthening anything.
The Core is the center, the location where the most energy is and output comes from. Merriam-Webster says it’s:
” a central and often foundational part usually distinct from the enveloping part by a difference in nature <the core of the city>; the central part of a celestial body (as the earth or sun) usually having different physical properties from the surrounding parts ; a basic, essential, or enduring part (as of an individual, a class, or an entity) <the staff had a core of experts> <the core of her beliefs>; the essential meaning : gist <the core of the argument>; the inmost or most intimate part <honest to the core>“
All of these are properties that define the essence of who we should be wanting to reach with our creations, be that art, music, innovation, products or services. Our core audience is the central part of our following, the key individuals who are impacted the most by what we do.
In our media-crazed world where, if we’re really honest, our attention span is mere nanoseconds due to the tsumani of information, images, videos, and everything else that is blasted at us online (be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) we often lose our perspective of core in favor of everything else, or everyone else.
To promote our work and reach our goals, we convince ourselves that we have to make our content go Viral, so millions and millions of people will see it. Then we’ll be successful.
Viral is a pipe dream for most people, especially marketers. Many so-called marketing experts have tried to sell a platform that “makes your social media posts/videos go viral overnight.” I’ve seen 3 this morning alone. But at the end of the day, how many people who will see your “viral” video but not engage in your content or care about what you really have to offer?
That’s the problem with viral, there’s no loyalty or love in it. It’s a fad, a bandwagon, a tsunami and blows through but doesn’t stop and interact. It misleads you into thinking that all these people who viewed your content will come back and engage again. Some might, but often once the tsunami blows through those same people won’t be back. You’ll need a new piece of content to go viral to bring the masses back, but they will be a different set of masses, and the need to truly connect will still be there.
Your core audience is not the tsunami. Your core audience are the rescue workers, the giving and caring people who nurture, heal, bless and contribute to things that hit them in their heart in a way that nothing else does. Your core audience connects with people, ideas, products, and services that connect with the core of who they are. Your core audience are the people who naturally are attracted to you and what you do. You know some of them, and others you might not know well. Your core audience are the uncommon people you should make your focus.
Common people in the world of media and promotions are those who see and hear but do nothing to engage or interact. They’re too busy, too pre-occupied, too hungry for something else to see and entertain them for 8 seconds. They’re people who see a great headline to an article or blog and share it on their Facebook or Twitter page, but never actually read the article. They’ve essentially endorsed and promoted something that has no real value to them because they have had absolutely no engagement with it.
It’s all too common to Like and even Share something we don’t actually have any engagement with. Because Likes and Shares only require a click of a button, but no click of the heart.
Your core audience clicks with their heart. And they click with their keys and words when they leave a comment, send you a message or add a line on a Share about how you’ve made a difference in their lives. Your core audience promotes the WHY behind what you do because they know it and love it. They engage with your offering because it’s valuable to them. Your why hits them at their core.
But who is your core audience? Do you know where to find them and how to interact with them? In the pursuit for creating the viral content, it’s easy to lose sight of the people in the middle because everyone on the outside is where the target is aimed.
I hope you’ll take the binoculars off and reset your focus towards the center, to the people in your proximity who you have the best opportunity to really engage with, the people are are already appreciative of who you are and what you do, the people who don’t need the marketing messages to reach. Here’s why:
I spent 13 years working in public media, i.e. public radio/public broadcasting (think NPR). The business model is a non-profit, fundraising based model where local contributors are the lifeblood of stability for the organization. The years when stability and contributions were highest were years where we had achieved at being very closely connected to our local community and the individuals who most strongly supported the core of the organization. Those loyal, dedicated, and passionate individuals, business leaders, and innovators continuously went above and beyond the call “to give” because they believed whole-heartedly in the mission of what we did for the community.
These experiences showed me time and again that the people who continuously support you are the crown jewels of your outreach. And they are at the center of your customer base. The old adage that it’s 300% more difficult and expensive to attract a new client than to get a past client to repeat business with you applies in the nonprofit realm, in music, in small business, and in any entrepreneurial endeavor. Satisfied people who support you, your product, your company, or your endeavor with their money will return again and again. Little to no marketing required.
What is required is continued connection and engagement. This is where we often lose track on what to do and how to do it because our focus is on growth by reaching outside people, the common folk roaming around out there.
What if the common folk could be attracted and brought in by your core audience? Isn’t this how recruiting for the military, many churches, and peer-to-peer selling works? You go out to 5-10 people you know and bring them into the fold. Some will like it, others won’t, some will stay, others will leave. Those who stay may become part of the core over time and connection, relationship and interaction. Then they can go out and do the same thing, only multiplied because the core has now grown.
If you don’t ask anything of your core other than buying your new release or new product, it’s difficult to experience the growth you want. So you allow yourself to be drawn to the so-called marketing experts who promise that they can take your work and get a million people interested in it who don’t know anything about you. Does that seem a little more far-fetched now, in light of seeing how interest from passionate people who know you and have experience with you works?
There are two main center-pieces to everything I do. One is to be an uncommon person who follows an uncommon path. Your path and my path have similarities but they’re not the exact same road. Common people blend into the background. They’re the myriad of people in all the Where’s Waldo pictures. You’re not scanning to find the common people. You’re looking for Waldo. Waldo is Uncommon.
I believe people who have something that makes other people’s lives better, brings them happiness, and solves problems are uncommon people. Common people want to blend in the background, or they want to be famous for doing nothing of any significance, but to be famous and popular. There’s no value in that. You are an uncommon person for reading this post, because I’m not telling you how to be more popular, or what to do to go viral. As a fellow Uncommoner, I welcome and appreciate you.
The other center-piece is focus on core audience for real growth and success. It’s uncommon to talk about this, but that’s why I’m not a marketing expert. I’m a relationship growth person. It’s how I took an offering in a small town and grew it to be heard and loved across the country. It’s how I’ve been able to not only meet and talk with artists, business leaders, innovators, and influential people around the world by also building relationships with them.
The essence of core audience building is relationship dynamics and communication.
I want to share with you my “secrets” to building a solid core audience and how to use social media in ways that the experts and gurus don’t know (or do know but aren’t promoting). Join me for a Free Webinar this week that will cover 2 very simple, yet very practical things you can do each day that will strengthen your core audience connection, and create new success for you.