How Helpful Content Builds (and Primes) Your Target Audience

“If you build it, [they] will come.”

This phrase from the beloved baseball movie “Field of Dreams” sometimes gets thrown around in the marketing world. In other words, “If you make a good product, it will sell itself.”

James Laws sees another side to the story. He wants you to give your audience something to get excited about before you start selling a product or service. 

James wears a lot of hats with his parent company, Saturday Drive, which operates three WordPress businesses and an award-winning coffee shop, BonLife Coffee. Through his experiences building those teams, James found that his real passion was discovering management best practices and fostering workplace culture. From that interest, he launched Ciircles, a one-stop shop for leaders looking to provide fulfillment for themselves and their teams. 

On an episode of How I Built It, James and I cover a variety of topics (hello, Jerry Springer and Yankees/Red Sox). But, most importantly, we talk about the benefits of remote work, leadership fulfillment, podcasting, and even TikTok. Check out these key takeaways from our discussion:

  • Give customers free, valuable content long before you’re putting out a product for sale. This hones the target market for the product you eventually create, both giving you insight into their needs and building their trust in your qualifications.
  • No matter what content you’re creating, keep the target audience in mind. For even better results, focus on the one person who will love the messaging.
  • When podcasting, set a pace that works for you. If you stress yourself out with a hectic production schedule, the quality of the content will suffer.

With or without you: in-person or remote work?

Since 2020, the conversation around remote work has only gotten louder. Companies are fighting to offer the most competitive remote opportunities to lure in new employees. Having worked on WordPress companies for so many years, James has long had the chance to offer his staff at-home opportunities. So which is his preference?

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James finds benefits in both virtual and on-site staffing, but he, personally, feels that there are more benefits to remote work. Ninja Forms was originally co-located, with its main operation in Cleveland, Tennessee. 

The company grew and acquired Caldera Forms, which had employees across the globe. Rather than forcing those workers to relocate, James opened himself to remote work, allowing the other WordPress-based Saturday Drive companies to do the same. 

And what about all these companies aiming for the best of both worlds by offering hybrid work? James isn’t a fan of the approach. Though he admits there may be companies who have cracked the hybrid code, he hasn’t been so successful in creating a harmonious hybrid environment. 

He’s found that hybrid work tends to create an “us versus them” mentality. To some team members, it appears that those who go to the office receive more recognition for their contributions than those who work from home. 

James knows firsthand that the best environment varies by industry. For instance, a coffee shop like BonLife Coffee cannot be remote, making it the Saturday Drive company that will only ever be in-person. 

But a fully remote environment seems to be the most family-friendly. While having working parents and playful kids under one roof can be distracting at times, it reduces commute time and allows families to get to bond in a different way. 

I personally love being able to see my kids throughout the day, even if it means the occasional interruption. It’s no worse than someone dropping into your office about an email they just sent. 

Creating content for leaders

James’s latest project builds upon his years of business experience, from being a pastor, to operating BonLife Coffee, to all of his WordPress operations. 

While some business owners get their greatest thrill from the start-up portion of a company’s development, James likes to look at management structure and setting up the team for fulfilling work. 

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It’s this passion for fulfillment that led him to start Ciircles. James started writing about his ideas for creating environments where leaders, workers, and, thus, companies as a whole can thrive. Happy workers make for more functional companies.

Currently, Ciircles exists as a free resource with a twice-a-week newsletter and a bi-weekly podcast, Leading to Fulfillment. The newsletter spotlights the latest articles from Ciircles and any new podcast episodes. James also posts helpful tips for leaders on his TikTok channel. 

Through each type of content he creates, James aims to give his target audience high quality advice that will keep them coming back for more.He doesn’t yet have a product developed for his leadership audience. But he knows that, when the inspiration strikes, he’ll be in tune with what those leaders want and what would help them do their jobs better. 

Let’s walk through some of James’s best practices for growing your audience through purposeful content.

6 tips to grow your audience with podcasting

It’s well known that I want you to grow your podcast and have it make you money. 

James’s strategy is a bit more of a long con. He knows that he’s interested in organizational structure and helping leaders create fulfilling work environments. He knows that one day he’ll have another business idea that addresses his audience in a way that can be monetized. 

He started talking about business on his podcast Adventures in Businessing, where he discussed all the challenges that entrepreneurs face. Now, he’s sunsetted that venture for a more targeted future: Leading to Fulfillment

Between the two shows, James has accumulated some best practices to share on using podcasts to grow your audience. 

  • 1) Define your audience: Of course, you want a target demographic and job type, but James wants you to take it a step further. Think about the one person that will benefit from your content, and give them what they want. 
  • 2) Bring guests with clout: James now looks for guests with different perspectives than his own, whether they have different backgrounds or just subscribe to alternative management styles. This helps to cultivate diversity. Additionally, if a guest already has a large following, their audience is then more likely to drive new exposure to James’s podcast. 
  • 3) Pick your style: Are you ready to get on the mic and let er’ rip solo? Or would you rather have a guest? Because having a guest broadens your audience, it might be better to choose the latter. Beyond that, what format do you want the discussion to follow? Some discussions are better suited to pre-selected question-and-answer, while others benefit from being more conversational. Remember that one person you want to target? Consider what style of show they prefer, then cater to their needs.
  • 4) Pick your cadence: Don’t drive yourself crazy with a grueling production schedule. James started off releasing episodes too aggressively. While that was a good way to build starting content, the pace left him burned out, which can hinder good content creation. Now he records an episode every week, but only releases them bi-weekly. He now has a year of backlogged episodes in the queue, so he doesn’t get behind.
  • 5) Don’t get too topical: Because James records up to a year in advance of his show’s release, he avoids current events topics. Keeping the content evergreen makes it more relevant. Plus, he points out, if advice goes bad within a year, it wasn’t good advice to begin with. 
  • 6) Bring it home: Remember when Jerry Springer used to give his Final Thought on his self-titled show in the 90’s? In a similar way, James takes two minutes at the end of every episode to give his take on one of the topics that came up during the discussion. This gives the audience some takeaways and additional insights directly from him. It also helps to wrap up and summarize the content.

Looking to monetize your podcast now? Check out my SMASH framework: 

  • Sponsorship
  • Membership/subscription plans
  • Affiliate links
  • Selling a product
  • Helping (like James does!)

🎙 Top tip: Start building your audience long before you have a product to sell. Otherwise, when you launch, you’ll just be selling to your own personal circle, which may not be the target. Using James’s tips, you’ll have an audience ready and waiting when your product hits the market.

The Tip Top of TikTok

James doesn’t claim to be a TikTok expert, but he does love it as another way to push out relevant content. He’s learned a thing or two from trial and error. Here are the two little nuggets he shared with me. 

👊Be authentic: James may have accidentally created some TikTok cringe in his early work with the platform. What did he learn from the experience? Be you. If you don’t want to use the memeable sounds or do a dance, don’t. TikTok is about creativity, but do it in a way that works for you. Don’t do things just because everyone else is doing them. 

👊Batch your content: This is by no means groundbreaking, but it is a common best practice for TikTok, or any other visual platform for that matter. Batching content saves time to work on your content all at once rather than pressuring yourself to work it into your busy schedule every day. 

So whether you choose Instagram, a podcast, a newsletter, or TikTok, there’s sure to be a way (or two!) to start cultivating an audience, even without a product or service to sell right now. The important thing is to pick your target, pick your topic, and start making relevant content. Then, when your product is ready to launch, you won’t have to scramble to find someone to listen to you. You’ll already have an audience waiting with open arms.

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