More Clients Memorandum
Why I follow people
Last week I asked you to think about the people you follow: newsletter subscriptions, youtube channels you tune in to, etc.
And to ask yourself “What is it about them that makes me follow them?”
Because a better understanding of why you follow people may give some clues as to why people might follow you. Which means you can build the relationships you need to turn them into clients.
Many of you kindly wrote back to me with your thoughts on why you follow people. Now I'd like to share mine with you.
But I'm going to start with a caveat: humans are notoriously unable to reliably understand their own motivations.
Study after study has shown we tend to do things for reasons we don't understand then when asked why, without knowing it, we fabricate something plausible and believe it.
So do take what I'm about to say with a little pinch of salt.
That said, here's why I think I follow people.
Firstly, like everyone I guess, I follow people who share useful stuff.
But it has to be relevant to me and my interests. And being human, my interests change over time and business priorities change too.
Secondly, the people I follow have to be interesting in some way. Adding value is necessary but not sufficient. Their communications have to keep me engaged.
So it might be they write charmingly. Or they're funny. Or tell interesting stories. Either way, it's rare that someone is so brilliant they can keep you paying attention just through their ideas alone. They have to entertain in some sense.
Thirdly, I have to feel aligned with them in some way. Some of it is ethics. I can't make myself follow someone I believe is unscrupulous or untrustworthy for very long, no matter how much I could learn from them.
But alignment goes further than that I think.
Personally, I like to look on the bright side. I don't like to criticise or complain or rant at things.
I know that an angry, ranty style works for some experts. And it attracts others looking for someone or something to blame.
But it just leaves me flat. And it just doesn't feel good to me when people pepper their content with angry rants about the government or the left or the right or big business or lazy people or people who unsubscribe from their list or whoever they want to pick on.
I don't follow those folks for very long.
So I believe people usually tend to gravitate towards those with a similar outlook on life to them.
Now your list of “why I follow” factors may be similar to mine, or it may be very different.
What's important though are the clues it gives you as to why people might follow you and what you need to do to make it happen.
There's an old saying in marketing that “you are not your customer”.
And it's often very accurate. Marketing people, for example, spend exponentially more time on social media than “normal” people. And often they let their own preferences unduly bias what they think other people want.
But when it comes to building a following, I think it's very difficult to adopt a “fake” persona to attract a certain type of client if you're not like that naturally.
That's why your shortlist of the reasons you follow people is a good starting point for why people might follow you.
In my case, it leads me to think about whether I'm sharing enough really valuable information. And am I doing it in an interesting and entertaining way?
And every now and then when I've got angry about something and am about to dash off a ranty email castigating some poor soul who served me the wrong type of coffee or whose software was full of bugs, it gives me pause for thought.
Is that really the person I want to be? Because it's not the person I want to follow.
Worth thinking about.
Ian Brodie teaches consultants, coaches and other professionals to attract and win the clients they need using Value-Based Marketing - an approach to marketing based around delivering value, demonstrating your capabilities and earning trust through your marketing.