How to Build a Massive Audience

It's not flashy, but it works.

Hey folks đź‘‹, I'm Kenneth Burke. #BurkeBits is where I share stories, data, and frameworks to help you become a better marketer. Subscribe for free to level-up.

Building an audience is one of the more valuable things you can do for yourself and your company. It’s not rocket science—when you position yourself as someone worth listening to and can back it up, the world becomes your oyster.

Winning new customers gets easier, hiring gets easier, and innumerable opportunities open up because you’re who people want to work with and learn from.

So how do you do it?

Or, more importantly (at least to me), how do you build an audience ethically, honestly, and authentically without trying to game the system?

Here’s a simple 7-step framework to do it.

1. Choose your audience.

If you’re a company: Focus on your core buyer. You probably work with lots of types of customers, but pick your most common and easiest to work with.

Start with one, not “everyone.”

If you’re an individual: Focus on people who are at your level and beneath you in rank or experience. These are the people who can relate to you and learn from you.

This audience will naturally grow over time as you grow.

2. Find the overlap.

What are you interested in, that you can provide a product or advice for, that your core audience will be interested in?

That’s the sweet spot.

For reference: I’m interested in B2B marketing, have enough experience and war stories to share lessons, and share them with an audience of other marketing managers.

3. Codify your content.

Content is your vehicle to growing an audience, whether it’s through email, text, video, in-person presentations, podcasts, or some other channel.

You need to iron out your:

  • Voice (how you’ll communicate)

  • Format (articles, videos, social media text posts, etc.)

  • Channels (where you’ll post, like email, YouTube, or LinkedIn)

  • Topics (what you’ll cover)

  • Standards (content goals for you and your audience)

If you’re new to this, it may sound like a lot. It’s not. Just work through each and don’t overcomplicate it.

E.g. I’m going to communicate like we’re professional peers chatting over a cocktail. I’m a better writer than anything, so I’ll use articles and social media text posts—primarily on this newsletter and LinkedIn—to cover marketing, sales, and go-to-market topics that will help other marketing managers make better marketing decisions.

4. Create a schedule.

A harsh truth: People are not thinking about you. No matter how large or small your audience, there’s so much going on that they won’t notice if you’re hitting a consistent schedule or not. But the schedule’s not for them.

The schedule is for you.

Unless you get picked up by Oprah or Messi, the one thing that will have the biggest impact on your audience growth is consistency. Building a great reputation that leads to customers and opportunities takes time. Be diligent.

Me? I post a #BurkeBits article every Wednesday morning. That works for me. It may change—one time I wrote an article every day for a year—but the point is to make it a habit.

5. Give way more than you get.

Creating and distributing quality content is a great approach for getting people’s attention. Use it well.

Think about it from your audience’s view. What value will they get from what you’re sharing? Make sure they’re getting something. That gives you room to sparingly ask them for something in return.

A good rule of thumb is to give 5x for every 1 ask. E.g. I may post helpful ways to improve your marketing 5 times, and then share 1 post about why you should use our product Text Request to reach your customers.

You’ll build your audience best when they feel like they’re getting more from you than they could give in return.

6. Create individual conversations.

It all comes down to people, and building relationships with those people creates clear audience growth. So use your content as a conversation starter.

Share something interesting, find people whose opinions you want to get on that topic, and reach out to ask.

Over time, be a friend, try to help them, and keep the conversations going. For starters, this is just being a decent human. It also helps you grow your audience—they’ll be loyal to you, and refer others to do the same.

7. Be consistent, with everything.

Create consistently. Offer value consistently. Keep your voice and messaging consistent. Talk about the same topics consistently. Stay consistent with your standards.

You need this to really find your rhythm, and your audience needs this in order to know what they’re getting from you. If every other post is something different, you won’t be known for anything in particular, and you’ll struggle to grow an audience.

Bonus: Find your own way

This is a basic framework anyone can use. But as with most advice, you’ll likely find what’s best for you is a variation of this framework. That’s fine.

If you do care about growing an audience, then put the effort in to share value and find your people. Once you do, the benefits can be enormous.

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Have questions about this topic or something you’re working on? Ask away! I’m an open book and happy to help.