Introduction: Why AUDIENCE?

Part I: The Audience Imperative

Chapter 1: Audiences as Assets: Think Like The Boss

The Boss Is Worried

The Audience Imperative

The Audience as Asset

Proprietary vs. Owned

Chapter 2: The Audience Imperative: Our Hybrid Source of Business Energy

Marketing’s Fossil Fuel

Renewable Marketing Energy

The Hybrid Marketing Era

Chapter 3: Your Proprietary Audiences: Seekers, Amplifiers & Joiners




Chapter 4: The VIP Joiners: Subscribers, Fans & Followers




Chapter 5: Beyond Don Draper: Paid, Owned & Earned Media

Paid Media

Owned Media

Earned Media

Converged Media

Chapter 6: Increase What Matters: Size, Engagement & Value



Chapter 7: A Larger Font: Our Long-Term Responsibilities

Embrace Change Permanently

Ditch The “Not My Job” Atttitude

Retrain Your Agencies

Respond to Results, Not Headlines

Never Stop Learning

Part II: The Audience Channels

Chapter 8: Website: Marketing’s Magnetic Center

Chapter 9: Email: The Bedrock Audience

Email Is a Must-Have

Chapter 10: Facebook: Making It Personal

Chapter 11: Twitter: Real-Time Characters




Chapter 12: Blogs: A Website by Another Name

Chapter 13: Mobile Apps: Audiences on the Go

Answering the Why

Build Mobile App SUBSCRIBERS

Build Email and Push Reengagement Channels

Optimize Your Mobile Audience Experience

Chapter 14: LinkedIn: The Professional Audience

Content and Influence

FOLLOWERS and Amplification


Chapter 15: YouTube: Internet Built the Video Star

SUBSCRIBERS on the Tip of Their Tongue

Ask for the SUBSCRIBE

Chapter 16: Google+: The Great Unknown

Chapter 17: Pinterest: A Collection of Beautiful Followers

Chapter 18: SMS: Cutting through the Clutter

Chapter 19: Instagram: Moving Pictures

Chapter 20: Podcasts: Listen Carefully

Chapter 21: Other Audience Channels: More? You Want More?!?

Part III: The Audience Roadmap

Chapter 22: Map & Align: Strategy and Team

1. Assemble a Team

2. Audit Your Existing Efforts

3. Set Your PAD Goals

4. Articulate Your PAD Strategy

Chapter 23: Build & Engage: Audiences on Demand

Tactic #1: Talk to People

Tactic #2: Websites & BLOGS

Tactic #3: Content Marketing

Tactic #4: Search Engine Optimization

Tactic #5: Organic Growth

Tactic #6: Product Packaging

Tactic #7: Email Opt-In Form

Tactic #8: Social Login

Tactic #9: Social Icons

Tactic #10: Overlays & POP-UPS

Tactic #11: Signage & DOOH Advertising

Tactic #12: Cross-Channel Promotion

Tactic #13: E-Commerce Checkout

Tactic #14: Post-Purchase Confirmation & Communications

Tactic #15: Search Advertising

Tactic #16: Facebook, Twitter, & Other Social Advertising

Tactic #17: In-App Mobile Advertising

Tactic #18: Television, Video, & Radio Advertising

Tactic #19: SMS

Tactic #20: Mobile Apps

Tactic #21: Direct Mail, Print Advertising, & Circulars

Tactic #22: Co-Marketing

Tactic #23: Contests & Giveaways

Tactic #24: Hashtags

Tactic #25: Events

Tactic #26: Social Widgets & Mosaics

Tactic #27: Appending

Looking for More?

Chapter 24: Serve, Honor, Deliver, Surprise & Delight: The Red Velvet Touch

1. Serve (The Red Velvet Glove)

2. Honor (The Red Velvet Throne)

3. Deliver (The Red Velvet Theater)

4. Surprise (The Red Velvet Rope)

5. Delight (The Red Velvet Cupcake)

Chapter 25: Test & Evolve: What Marketers Can Learn from 5,000 Years of Football

Test, Measure, and Assess

Marketing Lessons from 5,000 Years of Football

The Many Ways to Accommodate Your Audience

The Next Big Thing





To the weird, wonderful, and loving audience that energizes me every single day, Jenny, Declan, & Bailey Kate.

And to the entire ExactTarget family, may you always be Orange.



I first met Jeff Rohrs back in 2004 when he was president of Optiem, a digital marketing agency in Cleveland, Ohio, and one of ExactTarget’s first reseller partners. His keen eye for business trends, passion for digital marketing, and sense of humor made an immediate impression on me—and it wasn’t long after that I found myself asking Jeff if he’d be interested in joining our team. In 2007 he made the leap, and both of us couldn’t have been happier with the results.

As producer of our award-winning SUBSCRIBERS, FANS & FOLLOWERS Research Series (SFF), Jeff was one of the first to highlight the fragmenting nature of consumer/brand relationships. Whereas many were taking a one-size-fits-all approach to their cross-channel marketing efforts, Jeff and his team were urging companies to better understand and meet the consumer expectations created by each channel. As the SFF research demonstrated, SUBSCRIBERS wanted different things than FANS and FOLLOWERS—and vice versa.

In early 2013, Jeff approached us with a new idea—one that seemed revolutionary at the time but has proven to be true: There’s a hole in our marketing organizations. Advertising, brand, content marketing, demand generation, interactive marketing, product marketing, and sales all have leaders; but no one leader is responsible for building, engaging, and nurturing our proprietary audiences. Sure, there are great folks on the front lines of email, mobile, and social, each developing audiences specific to those channels. However, companies that don’t have a singular voice to speak for the needs of proprietary audiences will be hard-pressed to deliver on the promise of today’s convergent marketing technologies—true one-to-one relationships with consumers across all channels.

AUDIENCE is a wake-up call for every company today. Before you acquire a customer . . . before you can build a relationship . . . there must first be an audience for you to address. Your company may be content simply buying advertising to reach audiences, but Jeff and our entire team see a different future—one in which companies embrace an asset-based approach to marketing and work to constantly improve the size, engagement, and value of their own proprietary audiences. This is not an either/or proposition. Paid, owned, and earned media can and should work together to produce more revenue at lower cost wherever possible. And that’s the simple, powerful message of AUDIENCE: It is within our ability today to leverage data, permission, and technology to better sell to and serve consumers across all channels and devices.

Frankly, I don’t think there’s a more important book that companies can read today. Jeff has laid the groundwork for the responsible, long-term, profitable development of proprietary audiences. The structure you choose to build upon that foundation is up to you. However, if you build wisely, you’ll find yourself with a competitive advantage that will last for years to come.

—Scott Dorsey (@ScottDorsey)

CEO and Cofounder

ExactTarget, a company

Introduction: Why AUDIENCE?

It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.1

—Alfred North Whitehead

Welcome to the audience of AUDIENCE, the book! The moment you began flipping through these pages, you became a READER. I’m hoping you’ll soon purchase a copy and graduate to my CUSTOMER audience.a And if the subject matter really strikes a chord with you, perhaps you’ll become a website VISITOR (, email SUBSCRIBER, or a FAN of the book on Facebook. Who knows, you may even become one of my FOLLOWERS on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+, where I ponder how to build and engage audiences while masking a lifetime of pain caused by rooting for the Cleveland Browns (@Browns).

Ultimately, the choice is yours because you—the consumer—determine whether or not to become a part of any audience. You are not owned. Your attention, action, and loyalty have to be earned by all those who want it.

That’s how it works today. We like, follow, and subscribe to our favorite brands, companies, and people any time we want. We usually do so when it brings us joy, saves us money, or provides us with timely information. As consumers, we are in control. We decide which audiences to join, leave, or ignore altogether.

Unfortunately, not all businesses appreciate this dynamic. They operate under the false assumption that paid media still rules the roost and provides all of the audiences needed to fuel their business. That may have been the case at one point in time, but no longer. Consider that as you read this, there are the following phenomena:

Each of these entities has a distinct advantage over their competitors who rely on driving business through paid media alone. With a push of the button, they can message their audiences directly in cost-effective ways that drive measurable sales, response, and engagement. In these pages, I’ll share their stories and those of other brands that illustrate the simple fact that:

Proprietary Audience Development is now a core marketing responsibility.

If you embrace this responsibility, you’ll be a part of the team that turns audiences into long-term, profitable assets for your company. However, if you neglect it, you will fall behind competitors with less dependency on paid media thanks to their development of audiences that they—and they alone—can access on demand.

The choice is obvious, but many companies will fail to embrace the tenets of this book because it requires a consistent, long-term effort. Marketing staff turnover, campaign-based mentalities, and siloed objectives all work to undermine your audience development efforts—and this will never change. It will always be far easier to call your media buyer, rattle off some target demographics, and rent audience attention than it will be to command your own.

But we know the truth. Always doing what’s easy is a path to poverty, not prosperity. Just as consumer behaviors are changing thanks to mobile and social technologies, so too must our marketing organizations evolve to reflect our new realities. The time has come to stop treating proprietary audiences as afterthoughts and instead embrace them for what they are—a source of critical business energy in need of investment, leadership, and support.

AUDIENCE is as much a book for CEOs as it is for marketing professionals. Its lessons and advice are as relevant to small businesses as they are to Fortune 500 companies. You should feel free to read it from end to end or jump straight to the parts that interest you most. After all, you’re the audience; you’re in control.

In Part I, we’ll explore The Audience Imperative. Through its mandate, I explain what proprietary audiences are, what they have to offer our companies, and why it is more important now than ever before for your company to build them.

In Part II, I provide a deep dive into the top Audience Channels for Proprietary Audience Development. My goal here is to help you understand how these channels might fit your strategic needs, and how to pursue additional resources to aid in your use of them.

In Part III, I present an Audience Roadmap that you can use to build, engage, and value your proprietary audiences in ways that will deliver measurable results. I conclude with thoughts on what marketers committed to Proprietary Audience Development can learn from 5,000 years of football (yes, football—trust me, you’ll enjoy it).

One quick note—in the spirit of helping all of those whose stories, support, and encouragement have helped me make this book a reality, you will find that any mention of a specific individual or brand is accompanied by their Twitter handle (if they have one). I would encourage you to follow the folks that interest or inspire you. I know they’ll appreciate you joining their audiences as much as I appreciate that you’ve joined one of mine.

So welcome! Grab a seat, settle in, and let’s learn how to build your proprietary audiences for the long haul.

a I use ALL CAPS throughout to refer to specific, proprietary audiences that are detailed in Chapters 3 and 4. My hope is that it will avoid confusion and help you refer back to key audiences of interest.

1. Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York: Macmillan, 1925).

Part I

The Audience Imperative

Audiences are all around you. They are direct, responsive, and extremely cost-effective. They’re also new, constantly evolving, and quick to anger if you cross them.

Your company needs audiences to survive. If you aren’t building, engaging, and activating proprietary audiences of your own, you’re falling behind.

It’s high time you discovered why.

Chapter 1

Audiences as Assets: Think Like The Boss

[T]he audience is not brought to you or given to you; it’s something that you fight for. You can forget that, especially if you’ve had some success. Getting an audience is HARD. Sustaining an audience is HARD. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.1

—Bruce Springsteen

Quick! What are the most important assets of your business today? Your brand? Intellectual property? Physical facilities? Inventory? Employees?

All of these are likely answers; however, there’s one asset that is constantly missing when I ask companies this very question. Audiences.

Yes, audiences.

This answer tops your list if you’re in the media, sports, or entertainment industries, because you’re in the actual business of putting people in seats. You build audiences for a living and know the competitive advantage to be gained if your audience is bigger, better, and more energetic than the competition’s. Media companies build READERS (print), LISTENERS (radio), and VIEWERS (television). Football teams feed off of FANS. And Lady Gaga . . . well, she loves her “Little Monsters.”

Even lay consumers who aren’t in media or entertainment inherently understand that each of these audiences has monetary value. Loyal FANS pay cash for tickets to a live event, and a percentage of that money goes to the performers. The equation is simple: bigger audiences = more revenue.

You may think that this equation doesn’t apply to you if you work outside of an audience-centric industry, but it does. Do you pay for advertising? Then audience matters. Do you have a website? Then audience matters. Do you want to grow your business? Then audience matters.

Audience is the bedrock upon which every business is built. After all, what were your customers before they were customers? They were members of some audience that was exposed to your products and services.

Not that long ago, companies were totally dependent on print, radio, and television gatekeepers to reach audiences. Today, however, every company can build its own global audiences via websites, mobile apps, email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest (just to name a few). The rapid adoption of mobile devices and social media also gives those same audiences the ability to communicate right back to companies—often, in very public fashion.

Ahh . . . that sounds familiar. You’ve got “a young gal” who works on social media, “a guy” who is in charge of email—and you have some videos on YouTube. Your website “kind of” works on smartphones and you’ve got a LinkedIn profile for your company, so you must be building audiences correctly. Right?

Wrong. These are siloed tactics that produce siloed audiences. Moreover, they’re often managed by people with conflicting objectives and few organizational incentives to collaborate. What I’m advocating—what this book is about—is the creation of an entirely new marketing discipline focused solely on Proprietary Audience Development. To fully appreciate the importance of this cause, we had better check in with The Boss.

The Boss Is Worried

Bruce Springsteen (@Springsteen) is no stranger to proprietary audiences. With over 120 million albums sold worldwide and thousands of live concerts under his belt, he lives for them. And while you might think a veteran performer would be the last person to worry about finding an audience—you’d be wrong. After four decades as a performer, Bruce remains concerned about his ability to build and sustain an audience for his product (i.e., his music) in the Internet age. His quote at the beginning of this chapter sums the challenge up perfectly:

Getting an audience is HARD. Sustaining an audience is HARD. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.

If The Boss is worried about getting an audience, shouldn’t you be worried? Shouldn’t your boss be?

The question of where the next sale will come from has always dogged businesses. Indeed, the entire field of capital-M Marketing rose up to address such fears head on. Over the years, marketers have used a combination of creativity, messaging, and well-placed advertising to help their companies generate the vast majority of their sales—so much, in fact, that we completely lost any fear about on-demand audiences disappearing. After all, there were always print publications, radio stations, and television networks out there, all willing to put your product in front of an audience at a moment’s notice in exchange for cold, hard advertising dollars.

And then, the Internet happened.

New, interactive channels fragmented consumer attention, toppled traditional information gatekeepers, and decimated the business models of traditional media. Consider that:

In Bruce’s industry, once all-powerful, taste-making radio stations now stand as homogeneous shells of corporate efficiency where fewer owners play fewer artists to fewer listeners. Record stores are on life support, sustained by a few die-hard music enthusiasts, vinyl addicts, and the resale market for CDs. As for the music-buying experience, it has shifted from tactile and personal to virtual and impulsive. Practically overnight, the biggest artists went from selling entire albums to pushing MP3 singles for 99 cents a pop.

This is why The Boss is worried. The Internet, mobility, and social media have drastically altered a formerly stable and profitable means of manufacture, distribution, and promotion. Traditional influencers who propelled his albums to platinum-level sales have lost power. And if Bruce can’t find new, cost-effective ways to reach audiences, his records won’t sell, his concerts won’t sell out, and his cash register won’t ring.

But we know this hasn’t happened. The Boss is doing just fine. His 2012 album, Wrecking Ball, topped the charts—his tenth album to do so. He has amassed an incredibly loyal audience over the course of his 40 years in the music industry, and as times have changed, so have the ways they follow him. Instead of learning about his new album from a radio DJ, they hear about it directly from his website, email, or Twitter account. Or they hear about it from a new tastemaker—a blogger or fellow FAN on Facebook. Whatever the case, The Boss has retained his following because his management understands the absolute necessity of Proprietary Audience Development over the long term.

The Audience Imperative

Proprietary Audience Development is a comprehensive, collaborative, and cross-channel effort to build audiences that your company alone can access. This new marketing practice is built upon a mandate that I call The Audience Imperative:

Use your Paid, Owned, and Earned Media not only to sell in the short term but also to increase the size, engagement, and value of your Proprietary Audiences over the long term.

When you build bigger and better proprietary audiences than your competition, you gain a tremendous advantage in the marketplace. You’re able to drive consumers to your doorstep with the push of a button—while your competitors are left fighting for better ad placements and bidding up keywords. Proprietary audiences allow you to:

1. Reach CUSTOMERS and PROSPECTS at a lower cost.
2. Drive sales in a more on-demand fashion.
3. Treat consumers as individuals instead of faceless masses.
4. Optimize your budget across Paid, Owned, and Earned Media.a

Proprietary Audience Development is a comprehensive, collaborative, and cross-channel effort to build audiences that your company alone can access.

While few could discount these tremendously beneficial outcomes, Proprietary Audience Development is a discipline without a champion in most companies today. In Chapters 3 and 4, we’ll explore the different audiences in greater detail, but for now, take a look at all of the potential proprietary audiences at your disposal:


Now ask yourself this: Who manages the acquisition, development, and performance of these audiences in your company? Is it one person? Two? Five? Fifteen?

If your company is like most, your proprietary audiences lie strewn across a variety of different channels, databases, and teams—there’s no primary leader as with advertising, branding, and even content marketing. As a result, your efforts to drive audience engagement through your Paid, Owned, and Earned Media are neither as seamless nor as profitable as they might be. Your messaging is also probably far from optimized since your website, email, mobile, and social databases aren’t fully integrated with one another.

As if this weren’t bad enough, your company runs another huge risk absent a commitment to Proprietary Audience Development. Your audiences—critical business assets that they are—become subject to abuse at the hands of the loudest, most desperate executives, inexperienced newbies, and all manner of well-intentioned colleagues who seek to achieve their personal objectives regardless of the unsubscribes, dislikes, and unfollows they cause. This leads your company (often unknowingly) to sacrifice long-term audience profitability in service to short-term, ill-gotten gains.

This is not the fearmongering of a deranged marketer; it’s a story I’ve seen play out time and time again.

Sound familiar? Want to help stop the madness and embrace The Audience Imperative? Then it’s time to help your company understand proprietary audiences as the incredibly valuable business assets they are.

The Audience as Asset

Say it with me. Audiences are assets—valuable business assets. They may not be tangible assets, but with the right message to the right person at the right time, proprietary audiences can quickly turn into paying customers.

Of course, a company’s physical assets are more readily appreciated precisely because everyone in the organization can see them. We know the value of a piece of land because of what we paid for it or what the market will bear. We have the common sense to hire security to guard our physical facilities because the alternative is to let thieves or vandals disrupt our business. And we know to invest money in the maintenance of our physical facilities, because otherwise that small leak will become a far more costly problem overnight.

Audiences are assets—valuable business assets.

Unfortunately, we lack the same organizational common sense when it comes to audience assets. Few executives fully appreciate the lifetime value of proprietary audiences and yet, as we’ll see, many of them could be worth millions of dollars in future revenue. Does your company just let anyone walk around with access to accounts containing millions of dollars? Heck, no! We entrust such assets to people who are well trained, well screened, and well compensated. If your proprietary audiences possess such inherent value, shouldn’t the people who are a push button away from your audiences be some of your brightest, most trusted, and most valued people?

This strikes me as common sense, but overall businesses fail to hold audience assets in the same regard as physical assets for a few reasons:

1. The whole concept of proprietary audiences is very new. Prior to the Internet, a proprietary audience was a direct mail database hidden in some huge, distant server. Today, proprietary audiences exist inside and outside of our databases as well as across a vast array of public and private channels.
2. We’re focused on channel management instead of audience development. Many companies have Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube strategies, but few have comprehensive Proprietary Audience Development strategies. This leaves marketing pigeonholed into tactical discussions instead of debates about strategic priorities.
3. Channels are still evolving. The channels that support proprietary audiences haven’t evolved to the point where they provide marketers with simple, consistent ROI measurements. This makes it difficult sometimes to provide leadership with more than anecdotal stories of positive audience engagement.

Today, your proprietary audiences aren’t reviewed as part of your company’s financial statements, but you need to begin preparing for the day when they will be. Indeed, I envision a future in which the people who manage a company’s proprietary audiences command the same respect and scrutiny as the VP of Sales. They do, after all, manage assets (audiences) that account for a huge portion of your company’s future sales if managed appropriately.

Netflix: When Audiences Are Your Most Important Assets
For a glimpse at a future where corporate fortunes rise and fall on the size and quality of their proprietary audiences, look no further than Netflix (@Netflix). The company’s ill-fated 2011 plan to split SUBSCRIBER accounts (one for streaming and one for DVD delivery) caused the loss of 800,000 SUBSCRIBERS in a single quarter. As a result, Netflix stock dropped from a high near $300 per share to the $60 range in a matter of months.5
Granted, Netflix is in the audience business. However, its plight—and subsequent recovery in terms of SUBSCRIBER count and stock price—underscores that when audiences are viewed as assets, their rise and fall can dramatically impact the fortunes of any company.

Proprietary vs. Owned

You may have already noticed that I’ve been going out of my way to say “proprietary” instead of “owned” audiences. Audiences are proprietary to your company and not owned by your company because no audience is owned; members can leave any time they want. Whether at a concert, using a mobile app, or subscribing to an email list, the audience member always has the option to leave the venue, delete your app, or unsubscribe from your email. The same rule holds painfully true for traditional media. If it didn’t, we’d all still be reading printed copies of Newsweek (@Newsweek) while waiting to watch Must See TV Thursday nights on NBC (@NBC).

While not owned, audiences can be proprietary in that the right to communicate with them belongs to a single entity. To better understand this distinction, let’s take a look at someone who’s not quite as famous as Bruce Springsteen but commands a loyal FAN base today, Joel McHale (@JoelMcHale).

For those unfamiliar with Joel, he’s a talented actor, comedian, and “Proud Mom” according to his Twitter profile. In reality, he’s one of the hardest-working men in show business, with a starring role on NBC’s Community, a long-standing role as host of The Soup on E! Entertainment Television, and a lucrative stand-up career built in part on making fun of Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest). Joel and each of his shows have an active presence on Twitter, and as I write this, their FOLLOWER counts stand at:

No audience is owned; members can leave at any time they want.

You read that right. Joel McHale has over 13 times more Twitter FOLLOWERS than each of his shows. In fact, as I write this, he also has over 11 times the Twitter audience of the NBC Network itself (@NBC—364,945 FOLLOWERS)! “Must See TV” has definitely seen better days.

But here’s the twist: Not one of those FOLLOWERS is owned by Joel. He must work to retain their attention with each new tweet. Still, Joel’s Twitter FOLLOWERS are his proprietary audience in that he is the only person that can message them in the aggregate. E! and NBC can’t. They can message their own FOLLOWERS; but to reach Joel’s, they must ask (or pay) him to message them.

As it turns out, Joel does encourage his Twitter FOLLOWERS to watch both of his shows. This is of tremendous benefit to NBC and E! as it extends their promotional efforts for zero cost. Similarly, Joel has to love it when NBC and E!’s main accounts (@NBC and @Eonline, respectively) include his Twitter handle (@JoelMcHale) in their promotions. This helps him build his Twitter following—an asset that he will take with him long after he departs from Community and The Soup.

Audience Exercise #1: Check Yourself
If you want to understand audiences as assets, look no further than your own behavior.
Write down the brands you currently like on Facebook or follow on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or elsewhere. Now check your personal inbox. What brands did you give permission to send email to you? Which ones do you still look forward to? If you have a smartphone, pick it up and browse your open apps. How many are provided by companies you do business with?
Now ask yourself this: Is your company doing all it can to build its proprietary audience across these channels?

Twitter definitely provides Joel with his largest proprietary audience, but it’s not the only one that he commands. He also has a website audience (, a Facebook FAN audience (, and a live audience of CUSTOMERS when he headlines as a stand-up comedian.

Does this sound familiar? It should, because aside from being an actor/comedian, Joel is really a business—a business seeking to increase the professional opportunities and income for one Joel McHale. He does this when he can create energy in the form of buzz, interest, and ultimately sales around his projects. The same thing holds true for Bruce, and the same thing holds true for your company.

In fact, if you’re in marketing in any capacity today, it’s time to embrace the fact that you, my friend, are in the energy business.

The Relationship between Audience and Customer
As I’ve hammered out the concepts in AUDIENCE, I found myself referring back to three books that helped to shape many of my beliefs as a marketer:
1. The One-to-One Future by Don Peppers (@DonPeppers) and Martha Rogers (@Martha_Rogers)
2. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog)
3. Flip the Funnel by Joseph Jaffe (@JaffeJuice)
Each of these works envisions a future where marketers could increasingly leverage technology to build deeper, more meaningful, and more human relationships with consumers. Each also values consumer permission as the key to unlock both the channels (email, SMS, Facebook, etc.) and the data to power more personal, relevant, and timely communications.
AUDIENCE stands on the shoulders of these giants, seeking to remind marketers that before you can gain a CUSTOMER or build a relationship with a PROSPECT, you must have an audience—preferably one that’s bigger, better, and more responsive than the competition’s. That’s the heart of Proprietary Audience Development—and hopefully, a worthy heir to the fine work of Don, Martha, Seth, and Joseph.

a I’ve elected to capitalize the terms Paid, Owned, and Earned Media from here on out to better highlight how they support Proprietary Audience Development.

1. Ken Tucker, “Springsteen Speaks,” Entertainment Weekly, February 28, 2003,,,261357,00.html.

2. “Fold the Front Page,” Graphic Detail (blog), June 4, 2013,

3. Motorola, “2013 Media Engagement Barometer—Unveiling Our Global Media Habits, One Question at a Time,” Arris Solutions Blog, March 19, 2013,

4. Reuters, “The Internet of Things: By 2020, You’ll Own 50 Internet-Connected Devices,” Huff Post Tech, April 22, 2013,

5. KeithWagstaff, “Netflix Loses 800,000 Subscribers after Price Hike, Qwikster Debacle,” Time, October 24, 2011,

Chapter 2

The Audience Imperative: Our Hybrid Source of Business Energy

[T]he difference between a theatre with and without an audience is enormous. There is a palpable, critical energy created by the presence of the audience.1

—Andy Goldsworthy

As Britain’s foremost environmental artist, Andy Goldsworthy doesn’t usually perform with an audience. He works alone or with his team, assembling often fragile sculptures out of natural materials including sticks, stones, leaves, and even snow. However, Goldsworthy changed his approach in 1996 when he partnered with ballet choreographer Régine Chopinot to produce Végétal, a piece of performance art that married dance and with environmental sculpture.2 Goldsworthy reflects on the experience in his book Midsummer Snowballs, which perfectly captures what an audience provides to the artist:

Critical energy.

Picture an empty arena. Quiet. Still. Serene. Now picture it full of people overflowing with excitement for the sporting event they’re about to see. Even in the abstract, the difference is palpable—because we’ve all been there. Each and every one of us has been a part of an audience that’s chanting, singing, and stomping our feet for more.

There’s a reason comedians, stage actors, musicians, and athletes say they “feed off the crowd.” It’s because audience energy can literally make or break their performance.

Think about when you’re more energized in your own business. Are you sitting alone in your office or interacting with prospects and customers? And which room is more “electric”: an empty store or one filled with people? The answers may be self-evident, but I raise them to point out a fundamental truth:

Consumers are the fundamental source of business energy.

When consumers channel their energy into your business, the cash register rings. When they don’t, it’s lights out. What separates the winners from the losers is the ability to keep consumer interest (i.e., energy) flowing when and where your business needs it to propel sales, donations, or whatever pays the bills. Of course, the corollary to this proposition intrigues me even more:

Each and every company is in the energy business.

You may not consider yourself to be akin to an explorer when you put on your marketing hat—but you are. You spend your professional life on a constant quest to locate, tap, and transform consumer energy into sales for your company. And frankly, the effort to convince, cajole, and coax consumers off of their couches—and smartphones—to pay attention to your products or services is no less difficult at times than drilling for oil beneath the deepest ocean.

Attention is the precious natural resource all companies are struggling to acquire and retain. The fragmentation of consumer attention across channels, devices, and locations has created a genuine energy crisis for marketers. As a result, companies are scrambling to find additional sources of energy to fuel their businesses.

Attention is the precious natural resource that all companies are struggling to acquire and retain.

Marketing’s Fossil Fuel

I remember standing dumbfounded at the sight of a Sinclair Oil (@SinclairMemory) station sign as a child. It was a largely green, white, and red affair that would have been unremarkable save for one element—the green dinosaur below the red Sinclair name. You must understand one thing: Dinosaurs are irresistible to eight-year-old boys. They are big, scaly, and terrifying—in short, THEY ARE THE COOLEST THINGS EVER!!!

Now I’m not sure why Sinclair wanted to appeal to my particular demographic of dino-loving tweens, but their logo did lead me to ask my father why a brontosaurus (or another ’saurus of unknown etymology) was shilling for a gas station. A learned man, my father turned to me and said (without missing a beat), “Because oil comes from dinosaurs.”

Jaw dropped. Mind blown. I probably called in sick to school the next day so my eight-year-old self could sit contemplating how many triceratops it took to fill up our Ford Econoline van.

Of course, my dad was pulling my leg. He knew full well that oil, coal, and natural gas didn’t come from dinosaurs but rather from organic plant materials subject to millions of years of pressure under the Earth’s surface.3 Granted, it’s far less cool than the dinosaur theory, but it’s still pretty amazing to think that the majority of our energy comes from ancient resources that companies extract from the ground, refine, and sell to us.

Sort of like advertising.

Yes—you heard me right. Advertising is the fossil fuel of marketing. I say that without any intent to cast aspersions. In fact, there’s a strong argument to be made that advertising has never been more alive than it is today.

Advertising is the fossil fuel of marketing.

Companies today run ads via traditional print, radio, and television outlets as well as all manner of Web, video, mobile, and social-powered networks. With the help of tracking cookies, advertisers can use consumer demographic, Web surfing, and purchase data to better target and retarget those ads to increase their performance in ways that look like something straight out of the science fiction film Minority Report.

Yet no matter how geo-targeted, data-driven, or socially infused today’s ads are, they still rely on a basic economic exchange:

An advertiser pays a fee to receive a limited amount of time in front of an audience whose attention is obtained by a third party.

With fossil fuels, big energy companies drill and mine the earth in order to lay claim to vast repositories of oil, coal, and natural gas. With advertising, media companies mine consumers for their attention that they then sell back to advertisers in pages, impressions, clicks, and 30-second increments. In both situations, a middleman controls access to the natural resource, adding cost and building an addiction of convenience.

The Rising Cost of Super Audiences
There is perhaps no more public barometer of the value of audiences than the Super Bowl. As the game has become a cultural event, audiences have grown and so has the cost to reach them; however, rates are going up due to greater demand rather than bigger audiences.4
  AUDIENCE (U.S., millions) 30-SECOND AD COST (USD)
2004: 89.8 $2,200,000
2005: 86.1 $2,400,000
2006: 90.7 $2,500,000
2007: 93.2 $2,600,000
2008: 97.5 $2,700,000
2009: 98.7 $2,700,000
2010: 106.5 $2,500,000
2011: 111 $3,000,000
2012: 111.3 $3,500,000
2013: 108.4 $3,800,000
That’s right. In just one decade, Super Bowl ad costs jumped 72 percent while the television audience grew only 21 percent. Clearly, it pays to have proprietary audiences that lots of brands want to reach.

This is why the fossil fuel analogy works. The Paid Media audience is an energy source collected by others and drawn from a finite natural resource—consumer attention. And just like fossil fuel, Paid Media also has some downsides:

1. It puts companies at the mercy of third parties. You are always “renting” audience attention from someone else. While some quality assurances about audience composition are provided, companies that advertise are always left feeling as if half their budget was wasted; they just don’t know which half.5
2. It leaves marketers subject to the whims of the marketplace. Just as drivers cringe when prices at the pump rise, so too do marketers when the cost to reach an audience increases 50 percent year after year. CPM (cost per thousand impressions), CPC (cost per click), 30-second spot, and other advertising-unit price spikes strain budgets and force marketers to make up for sales or lead shortfalls elsewhere or miss their numbers. And nobody wants that.
3. It “pollutes” the consumer environment. Estimates suggest that the average American consumer is exposed to thousands of advertising messages per day.6 That’s all noise pollution that your message must break through in order to connect with consumers.

If you’re not a high-volume, multichannel advertiser, it’s safe to say that relying solely on the fossil fuel of advertising is a path to certain extinction. Increased competition for fewer and fewer resources has never been a great survival plan. Just ask the dinosaurs.

Renewable Marketing Energy

Renewable energy is a very romantic notion. You install a solar panel, put a wind turbine on the prairie, or tap the geothermal energy under your home, and you’re no longer at the mercy of the energy barons. You can suddenly access all of the clean, abundant energy you need—without ever having to pay a third party ever again.

Only it doesn’t quite work that way. At least not yet.

Solar is viable only in certain sun-soaked areas of the world. Wind turbines are great if it’s windy, but they tend to kill birds and require a backup power supply when the wind stops. And while geothermal is a great system for newer homes, it’s expensive to retrofit. Despite these issues, renewable energy advocates see our future not in fossil fuels but in abundant, natural resources—the sun, wind, tides, and Earth itself. With the help of technology, they hope we can harness these forces to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

The Internet is marketing’s renewable energy source. After all:

Proprietary Audience Development is built upon these renewable sources of audience energy. Instead of “paying at the pump,” you build your own audiences to propel your growth. Individuals may opt-out, dislike, or stop following your brand over time. But engaging in ongoing Proprietary Audience Development efforts allows you to constantly add new consumers who are eager to hear from your company. To better understand this concept, let’s examine the market for baby products.

Babies—or more specifically, their parents—are a renewable source of marketing energy. That first baby may stop using formula, but there’s a good chance another will be on the way. And if not, then another new set of parents will be in the market for formula again soon. If you’re a brand like Enfamil baby formula (@Enfamil), you understand this. You therefore concentrate on capturing the attention of those fresh, new parents through a website, great search engine optimization (SEO), email, Facebook, Twitter, and other direct online channels. And when their baby no longer needs your products, you cycle those parents out of your direct marketing efforts.a

Consumer energy (i.e., interest in your product) can shift quickly; it’s driven by forces such as age, career, convenience, health, income, interests, life stage, and location. Our companies cannot control these changes; therefore, we must be constantly seeking to replenish our renewable, proprietary audiences with new members. And therein lies the rub: We cannot depend solely on fossil fuel advertising or renewable Internet marketing to fuel our companies. We must embrace a hybrid marketing approach.

Audience Exercise #2: Desert Island Tactics
One of my favorite questions to ask marketers is this: If you could use only five tactics to grow your business, what would they be?
Inspired by the long-running BBC Radio show (@BBCRadio4), Desert Island Discs, the question gets you focused on the tactics that generate business—not just headlines. So—what are your five “Desert Island Tactics” and why? Which ones require you to pay for audiences versus building your own? Now go ask your marketing colleagues the same question, and let the debate begin!

The Hybrid Marketing Era

When Motor Trend (@MotorTrend) named its 2013 Car of the Year, car enthusiasts found themselves face to face with the first winner in the award’s 64-year history not powered by an internal combustion engine—the all-electric Tesla Model S (@Tesla). Motor Trend itself called the car a “shocking winner” and “proof positive that America can still make great things.”7 That great thing, as it turns out, is a luxury sedan that seats seven and can go 265 miles on a single charge.