David Maister asks for advice on creating awareness

David MaisterManagement guru and author David Maister has posted a request for advice on how to reach a broader audience with his blog and podcast.

Over the years I have read and benefited from David Maister’s wisdom in several of the books he has authored and co-authored.

So, I’d like to give something back to David by offering my thoughts on what he should do.

First, David, I’d advise you to start by reflecting on the nature of blogs and podcasts. Blogs and podcasts are not based on the broadcast model. They are based on the notions of community, sharing and conversation. In this medium, number of readers is less important than the quality of the relationship you have with those who become part of your community by visiting or subscribing to your RSS feed.

A passionate core community can help you achieve your objective. For example, you’ve reached me. I’ve read your books and now I recommend them to others who lead public relations consultancies. I buy copies of your books for new employees, ensuring that tomorrow’s leaders become familiar with you and your teachings. I link to your blog and note when others share my enthusiasm for you. And I’ve added you to my blogroll.

I’ve done all of this because I run a public relations firm and I subscribe to the perspective on trusted relationships and professionalism. I try to put into practice the approach your recommend in your books. And I value the insights you offer in your blog and podcast and the conversations that you spark. (In fact, you may recall that many months back I posted a comment on your blog encouraging you to add the Trackback capability so that bloggers like me could continue the conversation through postings on our own blogs.)

But that’s me. What about your other subscribers? You can learn a great deal about what draws readers to you by analysing your blog statistics and comments. The comments people offer and the number of links you get to individual postings should provide you with insight into what is popular and what draws and holds your community’s attention.

And you can be even more proactive in understanding your community. Why not conduct a survey of the subscribers to your blog and your podcast. Ask them why they have subscribed. What are they looking for? What do they value? What more or different content/features would they like you to offer? What do they do for a living? Where do they live?

This will provide you with much greater insight into what your current readers value and who they are. And you can use this information to refine the content you provide. After all, it’s all about the content.

Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson conducted a survey of listeners to their For Immediate Release podcast. And the results provided them with real insight into their audience and how they could fine tune their podcast to better serve their interests. And in this medium, the key to bigger numbers may be to drill deeper into a defined audience.

Of course, you could broaden the content of your postings to appeal to a more general audience. I think that this is the approach followed by Manager Tools. Their content is useful to anyone who works in any kind of office environment. If you were to do this, of course, you might disappoint and lose some of your core audience, who value your insight into the particular challenge of managing professional services firms.

Finally, do more of what you just did. By asking for advice, you engaged your community in a discussion. That bound them more closely to you. That generated links. And you can be sure that it increased awareness of your expertise and your blog as others read posts like this.