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When reading online marketing advice, you're often bombarded with an endless stream of tactics: use this software, buy these ads, tweet, Instagram and other things you know nothing about.
With all this "noise" it can be challenging to figure out what to focus on and where to spend your money and time, especially for those side-hustling entrepreneurs.
For Tough Love Tuesday, Entrepreneur's Facebook Live series in which we connect side-hustling entrepreneurs with amazing experts, Derek Halpern of Social Triggers, an internet marketing firm, provided some refreshing advice on how to streamline your marketing process: focus on the people first, the tactics second.
While his marketing expertise covers the gamut, for this specific episode, we were talking about building a solid email list (these subscribers are gold for businesses).
"The golden rule of online marketing is each and every email on your email list is a human being. Treat them like one," he said.
As a side hustler (also the founder of This Dog's Life) this was an interesting point, as I, like many others, tend to focus just on metrics.
"People get so obsessed with numbers. They look at the size of their email list," he says. "But those numbers they're looking at? Those are real people."
This is important, especially now. When you forget that you're talking to people, there's no way your marketing can resonate with anyone.
But before you figure out how to build this list, you need to determine who you want on the list.
During the Tough Love Tuesday, he discussed a four-step formula to attract the right people and keep them engaged. Called the T.A.P.P. technique -- target, appeal, produce and promote -- the strategy examines the "people first" mindset of marketing.
To help people understand how to use T.A.P.P., Halpern focused on a real-life example. For his newsletter, which helps entrepreneurs find success, he wanted to, at one time, focus on getting more hairstylists on it. This was his target.
He thought he could help these entrepreneurs make more money, as they often complain about charging less than they are worth for their service. To tackle this, he wanted to show the difference between an expensive haircut, and one that is inexpensive (a $50 haircut). By discussing the $310 haircut, it appealed to their desire to charge more.
He created an engaging content piece: a video he filmed of himself getting a $310 haircut. He decided to focus on this medium to get the best hook, while keeping people intrigued throughout the experience.
At first, Halpern focused on cold emails. He reached out to different hair stylist publications, but no one bit. So, he decided to approach them a different way.
"I bought Facebook ads targeting hair stylists," he says. By targeting these hair stylists, the hair stylist publications were also exposed to the video. Soon, these publications were asking him to use the video. His clickthrough rate was 10 percent (people are often happy with 1 percent).
"I know this seems like common sense, but most people -- writers, entrepreneurs -- create a piece of content and hope people find it," says Halpern. "Maybe they share it on their own social media a few times and keep hoping. This is a failure. You need to target, appeal, produce and promote."
By giving people what they want, you can build a popular email list.
Check out the video above for more about the T.A.P.P. method and other tips Halpern has about growing an email list the right way.