Danielle and Max are both running for student body president. With college quickly approaching, and applications nearly due, both students want something to set them apart from the crowd. They form campaigns, build strategies and the race is on. For Danielle anyways.
Max doesn’t feel the need to race. He is confident he’s going to win and is betting on his classmates seeing that too. Max gets better grades than Danielle, has better relationships with the teachers and has the better ideas.
“I’ll get her in the debate,” he says. “No way she’ll be able to hold her own.”
Meanwhile, Danielle is investing time, effort and money in making her campaign perfect. There are signs with her face plastered across the halls, she’s setting up meetings with all the after-school clubs, and she’s even started speaking with teachers on ways to work together.
Max finds it amusing and so do his campaign mates. With Max’s popularity, there’s no way Danielle stands a chance. Plus, there’s still the debate.
Months go by without Max holding a single meeting. He doesn’t hand out a button or bake a cookie. If high school elections had polls, maybe he’d see his mistake. But he doesn’t.
When Danielle wins on election day, Max is shocked. How could a girl no one really knew five months ago be class president? He’s the one with hundreds of friends. He’s the one invited to every party.
“It’s pretty simple actually,” Danielle says. “I listened.”
“Listened?” Max asks. His voice is harsh.
“You thought you knew what everyone wanted because you’re popular,” Danielle explains. “I took the time to let them tell me what they want really.”
Max crosses his arms and squints his eyes.
“You took everyone for granted,” Danielle states. “You figured they would vote for you because you told them to. Relationships are two-way streets, Max. If you want people to invest in you, invest in them!”
There are several things we can learn from Max, but perhaps the most important of all is the importance of engaging with your audience. Your audience is made up of people. People with thoughts, plans and feelings. It’s not enough to tell them to support you, you need to incentivize them to.
This means understanding their motivations, taking time to appeal to them and building relationships. Oftentimes people are making emotional decisions, not logical ones. So even if Max was the better option, the student body had already started liking Danielle.
Don’t expect people to invest in you if you won’t invest in them. Too many of us are scared of releasing blogs or sharing content online. The content you share isn’t a freebie, it’s an investment. Investing in your audience builds a relationship with them and proves the worth of your knowledge to them.
Do not take your audience for granted! Your audience doesn’t inherently owe you anything. Not support, not business, not even a follow. Remember that relationships are two-way streets, and all good relationships take time!
Let’s Sum Up
Our relationship with our audience is perhaps our most important relationship of all. The best product in the world can be ruined by a bad reputation. There are thousands of people out there opting for small businesses because they are looking for good service. Invest in your relationship with your audience, or there is no way they’ll invest in you.