May 30, 2019

EP 211: Building An Audience With Tara McMullin

EP 211: Building An Audience With Tara McMullin

A year ago this week, I deleted about 12,000 people off my email list.



That meant that my audience shrank by about 80% with the push of a button.



GDPR was going into effect and, while I wasn’t caught up in the mass hysteria happening in the d









A year ago this week, I deleted about 12,000 people off my email list.



That meant that my audience shrank by about 80% with the push of a button.



GDPR was going into effect and, while I wasn’t caught up in the mass hysteria happening in the digital marketing world around compliance, I did look at the regulations as an opportunity to take a new approach to building an audience for my brand.



Quick aside—pro tip: never get caught up in any mass hysteria, especially when it’s about digital marketing.



The me of 2018 felt pretty calm and collected about the whole thing—but the me of 2016 or 2017 would have lost my marbles.



That email list—and the number attached to it—represented all of the work that I had put into writing, speaking, teaching, and positioning my business over nearly 10 years. But there was a problem…



I had become more attached to the number than the people on that list.



And that number was holding me back.



I viewed every marketing, branding, sales, or product development decision through the lens of that number.



I would experiment with messages, angles, and stories to see what would happen to that number—and all of the smaller numbers it would spit out, like click thru rate, open rate, or unsubscribes.



It wasn’t that I didn’t care about the people reading—I cared about them deeply. It’s just so easy to forget that numbers are people… and that sometimes the people I care about most just aren’t represented by the big number but by one that’s much smaller and harder to discern.



When I made the decision to all but start over with my email list, it was a decision to do the work to find that number, rediscover the right people, and rebuild my audience from there.



This month, we’re tackling a topic that tends to be top of mind for most small business owners: building your audience.



Whether your business is the kind that thrives with an audience of 10 or whether you’re aiming to reach millions, we’ll be exploring what works for a variety of entrepreneurs as they work to attract the right people and earn attention for their brands.



Now, I’ve been building an audience online for over 10 years but my perspective has recently made a big shift.



To kick off this month’s theme, I decided to share what’s working for me as we build an audience around honesty and transparency in small business—including my own.



The first thing that’s changed is who I show up as.



When my company made a big shift 2.5 years ago to focus on The What Works Network, I declared that I was no longer the teacher or coach. My products weren’t going to revolve around how much I knew and how much of that I could teach you.



I simply recognized that I didn’t have all the answers—and I wanted to turn my focus to gathering a group of people to build collective knowledge.



This represented a huge change in our business model—and I knew that.



What I didn’t realize at the time was how much that was going to change the way I approach audience-building, too.

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