You're the hired entertainment at a private party.
It's two minutes before you go on stage and there's a few hundred people in the banquet hall. People are relaxing after dinner.
You check your set list and pat your pockets to make sure you're set then check to see that your lapel mic is on standby. The host asks if you're ready as they step up to introduce you.
You step onto the stage to a polite reception and as the applause dies down all eyes in the house are on you.
They're curious to see what a magician does, and if you're anything like the guy they've seen at their kids birthday parties. In fact most of them are wondering how long they have to be polite and pay attention.
What you do and say next is going to set the stage for the rest of the evening, and it better be good. And thankfully, again, you do a great show.
Everyone had a great time. People were doubled over laughing, jaws were dropped in stunned silence as you read minds, and gasps of delight filled the crowd when you revealed you were wearing the watch of the surprised CEO that was just up on stage with you.
But that's not even the best part.
Because people want to "mingle" with the magician. They want to shake your hand and tell you how much they loved the show.
Inevitably others come and try to drag you away because "there's just someone you need to meet."
So what's this got to do with anything making more money? A lot.
I've been a professional magician (mostly part-time) for over a decade and I've learned a lot of things about how to move an audience.
Has it always been like that? Not by a long shot.
I could tell you about a few nightmares - embarrassing shows I'm finally starting to laugh about. All performer's have them - but that's another post
I used to stink. A lot. I had a long learning curve.
It took time to be good. And a good show takes work. A lot of work and a lot of time.
But my audience is never aware of that.
Because I've worked at making it look easy. And this is the point.
Every interaction with the audience is scripted and every moment is designed to evoke different feelings and reactions.
You see, every reaction I get from my audience is carefully cultivated and planned out. None of it is by accident. While it took years to fumble towards this, I finally got it.
It should be the same with all of your communication with your customers.
Like most of you I'm on a number of different email lists. I pay attention to different blogs and keep up with subjects that interest me. I'm a part of their audience, sometimes even a customer.
And if you have a long-term business with clients and customers who trust you, you have an audience too. And if you want to mean something to someone, you need to be someone.
You have to have an opinion. You have to have personality. People want to be led and they are always looking for someone to distract them, entertain them and lead them.
And you can't do this if you're a friend to all. You have to be a 'hero' to a few. In other words, don't be bland!
You will polarize yourself anytime you take a stand, but this pays off with your customer base in the long run. Think Rush Limbaugh. People that know him feel pretty strongly about him one way or the other. There's not much middle ground. That's because he plays to his audience and makes no apologies.
You need to learn how to deliberately create the picture you want your customers to see about you and your product or service so it's always to your advantage.
And do it in advance as part of your business planning.
If you have a blog as a part of your business (you should) and an email relationship (you should) then you are halfway there.
But you need more than that.
You need a relationship, and one that's built on a role you play for your list. While I see a lot of great communication between marketer's and their lists, I don't see a lot of trust building in the way of allowing your customers to really "know who you are."
You need to foster at least a perceived two way relationship. When you have your own products and a list that trusts you - trust based on always delivering value and an insight into who you are as a person - you can live off that list for a very, long time.
While this isn't true for all online models, it's true for any long term business.
You want to cultivate an image to your audience.
In my shows, I'm funny (hopefully), casual and interested in just having fun and "wowing" my audience. I don't do big illusions, I'm not "goth", I can't see dead people, and I don't pull a furry little bunny out of a hat.
When I created the show I wanted, I made sure each line and effect fit that presentation, and it's the same with your customers.
With your list you have a lot of options.
One might be the "authority" guru. This person is an expert, a leader, and they love teaching because they love to share what they have learned with others. They have a lot of answers you may not know and they know how to pass on that education.
You'll find the "insider" guru. This person may have insider knowledge about how something 'really' operates. And they want to share these secrets with you. Think of the debt cure guy. They operate by being benevolent and letting you be "in" with them on the inside.
Another one is the "champion" persona. This person will be someone a lot like you. They'll be fighting the same fight you are and they understand your anxiety. They fought and they won, and they want to help you win as well.
There are some very important questions to ask yourself if you want to keep your customers loyal and happy...
You need to find out what you are to your customers and continue to be that person and foster that image.
What kind of solution are your providing? How would that shape your emails and blog posts?
Be pigeonholed if you can. You want to be known for a few things (maybe even just one or two) before you become an expert in "everything".
Once they trust you, they'll trust what you know. And with that comes customers that will continue to purchase from you again and again because they know who they can go to.
So go out there and BE somebody. (Just not a magician please, I like less competition )
And enjoy it, it's fun too!