We’re facing an online epidemic; content creators are saying thank you to the wrong people.
It’s a natural reaction to thank any leader in your niche who shares your content via social media or recommends you in a post. If Chris Brogan, for example, retweets your link, you’re probably going to see some traffic and get some new subscribers. I’m not advocating that you stop thanking these people. In fact, a “thank you” is part of what makes people want to share your content again in the future.
The problem is, often we forget to thank the people who really matter.
“But Allison,” you might be thinking, “Chris Brogan (or insert the name of the leader in your niche) is who matters!”
Not really. (Sorry, Chris!)
Why Niche Leaders Don’t Matter
Chris Brogan matters for countless reasons. He’s not a leader in his niche for no reason, after all. The leaders in your niche have also likely achieved this status for a reason – they’ve been around for a long time, they pioneered in the new media industry, they give great advice, etc. They matter because you can look to them for advice, innovation, and education. They matter because they can be role models for you as a content creator.
But sometimes we’re too star-struck about the ways they do matter that we don’t realize there are also ways they don’t matter.
That big-name guru-expert-ninja-rockstar leader in your niche doesn’t matter because in all likelihood, this is not a member of your target audience. If you podcast about fashion, someone who is a leader in the fashion industry probably already knows all of the ten tips to choosing the perfect little black dress that you talked about in your last episode. Or, if you have a marketing blog, that leader in your niche you look up to probably doesn’t need the free ebook about branding you’re promoting.
In other words, they aren’t the people who are ever going to become your customers.
So why do niche leaders share your content? Because they have a similar audience who is hungry for what you’re dishing out. They send lots of traffic your way – and those people are your target audience members. It’s worth saying thank you! But you should care more about saying thank you to the people who will be your customers someday – or those who already are.
Saying Thank You to the People Who Matter
Continuing to use Chris Brogan as an example, let’s say Chris does take a moment to promote something you write, sending lots of traffic your way. Some of those people sign up to your mailing list, and some even buy one of your products.
Are you thanking these people? Because it didn’t cost Chris Brogan anything to send a tweet. It barely even “cost” him any time. But John Doe who spent $97 of his hard-earned money to buy one of your products? If Chris deserves a thank you, John certainly does as well.
Similarly, we should be thanking people who send us emails. This is one of the biggest gripes I have: content creators act annoyed when fans send them emails. I reply to every email I get (or at least I try – sometimes the occasional email falls through the cracks), and I’m happy to do so. Because if I’m getting emails, it means people are responding to what I’m writing online. Even better, people who feel strongly enough to actually send an email are more likely to buy something from me in the future. These people are the backbone of a community. You should be vociferously thanking them for taking the time to email you. It’s like fan mail. How cool is that?
Lastly, are you thanking the people who buy your products? I don’t just mean in a canned automatically-sent email that they get when they make a purchase. I mean a real email or even a blog post that thanks people for supporting you.
Sucking Up Doesn’t Work Anyway
Online, I see people sucking up to the “gurus” in their niches, and it always makes me laugh a little. Come on, do you really think that your behind-kissing isn’t totally transparent. If all you’re trying to do is leverage your relationships with people online, you’re doing it wrong. Build relationships because you genuinely like people, not because you want them to do something for you in the future.
And if you want to actually make money online, you’re focusing on the wrong people altogether by butt-kissing the big names in your niche. Suck up to the people actually spending money with you. You don’t have to stop thanking leaders for supporting you, but if you’re ignoring the people handing you money, you’re doing it wrong.
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