In this podcast episode, an experienced course creator shares their journey and wisdom of bridging the trust gap with a robust, prolific, and targeted content plan to authentically automate their marketing and by using content to train their audience.

You will learn:

  1. Is it possible to build an audience on social media without being on it?
  2. Why content should train your audience to think and get meaningful results.
  3. Why the content goal has to be the first step.

Listen to this episode on:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play | Amazon Music | How To Subscribe

Highlights in this episode:

[00:00:59] Advertising costs you time and money

[00:05:16] We live in a soundbite world.

[00:09:44] It isn’t enough just to create the content. You have to engage and push it along the way.

[00:11:13] Relevant stories requires knowing your audience well.

Social Media: You Have to Engage

Today we’re going to answer the age-old (in internet years, that means, like seven months) question: do you have to be on social media?

We’re going to cover the following:

  1. The history of advertising for small businesses
  2. How + why your content needs to train your audience
  3. Your marketing goal and how that informs your content plan

The History of Small Business Advertising

This is going to be a bit of a controversial episode, but the reality is–

Attention is either earned or paid. What does that mean? It means you’re going to put a lot of time or money in–that’s how marketing has always been and always will be. How that time and money get dispersed will shuffle and flow in different ways, but it’s always going to be a combination of those two things.

In most online businesses, social media is going to take a big space in both the time and money investment. Will there be exceptions? Yes. Are you one of them? Most likely–no.

When I started my first business, it was on the cusp of the online era. Many small businesses didn’t create websites at all and wouldn’t for several years. Facebook was only a thing for Boston-area colleges. I had to publish my business announcement in an actual newspaper and pay for a print ad for five weeks.

Did you hear that? I had to pay for an ad. It got me zero business, by the way. It was simply a requirement for creating a DBA.

I had to hustle. I paid for more attention in time than in money, because I was twenty years old and frankly–I didn’t have money. My backup job was at Barnes & Noble to cover my car payment, food, and such.

More established small businesses advertised in magazines, at movie theaters, on local cable channels, and more. Other options were creating business collaborations and joining a weekly local networking group. Again–all a combination of time and money.

Online businesses take social media for granted

This is going to be another controversial statement, and I’ll stand behind it: social media is not a winner-take-all playing field. If you want to build an audience on social media, you, too, will have to pay in time or money. 

If you don’t want to be on social media, you have decisions to make:

  1. Will you hire a team member to be on social media for you?
  2. Will you pay an ad agency to build an audience on social media?

And I’ll take it a step further:

  1. Will your hired team member provide thoughtful, deep content as if they were you?
    1. Will they also engage with comments, posts, and audience members as if they are you?
    2. Or will you only hire to create content and do the engagement yourself?
    3. Or will you only hire to engage and create the content yourself?
  2. Will your ad agency provide the content, or just create the ads?
    1. Will you engage with the comments on the ads?
    2. Or will you hire for that as well?

Did I mention hiring a lot? I did.

And did I also leave out the option of you simply not being on social media? Yes, I did that as well.


Elevated Online Businesses Need to Train Their Audiences

Established online business owners with cohort-based programs, whether those are proven courses or higher-tier memberships, quality coaching programs or service-based deliveries–they need clients who can think to get the results they promise.

content should train your audience to think with depth

You’re not fluffy. Your teachings have depth. You’re a creator who aims to serve. So… how can you expect your students to go through these meaningful training courses if you don’t train them to think with depth?

Short attention span marketing

We live in a soundbite world. I call it short attention span marketing

Tiktok, reels, YouTube shorts… they have a lovely promise that they’ll grab a new audience for you with your virality (and we’ll be talking about that more next week with Julia McCoy).

But here’s a fun fact: I have a handful of videos that HAVE gone viral, and not a single one has netted a client for me. They’ve not even gained leads. If you look at the likes and comments on each of them, they’re not even business owners who could potentially desire my services.

Yet, we still live in a soundbite world!

How are you supposed to find the thinkers in an audience used to soundbites? You train them.

Content should train your audience to think with depth

I’m not suggesting delving into a dissertation on logical fallacies! 

And this doesn’t have to be academic-level training, either. It simply needs to grab their attention (attention, interest, trust is a framework for a reason!) and answer these questions:

  1. Is this worth my attention?
    You can yell fire in a crowded room, but you’ll lose interest quickly if there’s not a fire. And, you know, incite a riot and face some criminal penalties.
  2. Now, is this interesting to me?
    There are a lot of things that will grab my attention, but is it the right time and right place for me to keep my attention?
  3. Can I trust this person for my unique situation?
    As an elevated business, this is going to be the most critical. You can grab my attention, interest, and even general trust, but for a higher-end purchase, you’ve also got to nail the timing for an offer that’s so unique it feels tailor-made for that specific person.

It’s a big reason I love content that helps your audience think with depth–giving them a quick win along the way helps build that situational trust, even in content geared towards a broader population. This is what small business social media is for!

Thinking critically will give the audience members an a-ha moment they wouldn’t have had otherwise–and you’re associated with that moment of clarity. (This is also why content templates aren’t doing you any favors!)

You need to always look at the purpose of your content. You need to answer the question–what’s the freaking point?

Your Content Needs A Goal First

you have to earn attention, but creating content shouldn't be hard

Realistically, most people start posting content, creating content, without actually stopping to answer this question. What is the point of you creating your content? What is the point of you spending all of this time? Effort? Consternation?

You need a goal. Do you have a solid, reasonable, attainable, and sometimes even lofty goal? 

Is your content objectively doing a good job answering those three AIT questions for each audience member?

Otherwise, what is the freaking point?

Social media–you have to engage

And that brings us back to the ultimate question–do you have to be on social media?

Why are you putting all this time into creating content if you aren’t going to respond to engagement and take it that last mile to finish the marathon and build that situation trust we talked about?

Remember, attention shouldn’t be easy.

Creating content shouldn’t be hard

And also, creating content shouldn’t be hard. If it is feeling hard, you’ve got some questions to ask yourself: 

  1. Are you trying to create content that doesn’t align with your values?
    I’ll spend the same time creating a reel versus a carousel, but one feels way more work to me. And if something is feeling like a lot of work, it’s a good idea to reassess that tactic.
  2. Do you expect every content to stack up likes, or do you expect it to bridge the AIT gap? That’s the real value content.
  3. Do you know the problem and solution you offer intimately? 
  4. Do you know the type of person reading your content so you can use relevant stories?

As you can see, choosing not to be on social media is the right choice for some, but not most online businesses. Bridging the trust gap is easiest with a robust, prolific content plan.

If you need help with any of these questions, let’s chat.


Resources Mentioned

Music by Michael De La Torre. Thanks, Mikey!