Whenever someone tells me they’re starting a new business, there’s one simple question I always want to ask. In my experience, the answer to this question is usually the biggest factor in determining whether that business will be successful.
The question? Where’s your audience?
Successful entrepreneurs can quickly list off the places where their audience congregates (and where they can market to them). Struggling entrepreneurs may instead start talking about the problem their product solves, or the demographic they serve.
That’s not what I’m getting at here, though those things are certainly important to know. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how to define a targeted audience for your business. This is one step beyond that.
In this post I’m going to be covering general principles, but to help you apply what I’m talking about here, I’ve also created a free guide full of practical suggestions you can start following today. Click the button below to download it now:
After they’ve decided who their audience is, some people are tempted to start building landing pages, creating content, and running ads right away. But if you want your marketing assets to really connect with your audience, first you need to find out where your audience hangs out.
Where do they spend their time? What do they talk about when they’re there? What does it tell you about the things they really care about?
When you can answer these questions and join your audience where they already are, you’re able to position yourself much more effectively.
Think of it like a river. When you’re a brand new business, trying to get people to come to you is like trying to get them to swim upstream.
Instead, you want to position yourself downstream. That way, they’re already heading your way. They can’t miss you. And they’re likely to be a lot more receptive to what you have to say.
So what do you do once you find the places where your audience is hanging out?
You join the conversation they’re already having. You get to interact with them. You get to become one of them.
You get a fine-grained look at your market that tells you how to structure your content, what words and phrases to use, what pain points you need to address, and so on. It’s invaluable qualitative data. Collecting it does take time, but everything about your business will be better once you have it.
Where to start? Typically, you need to market yourself as much as your product. You’ll want to talk directly with people that can benefit from what you offer. You’ll want to network and build contacts that can help sell your product. And you’ll need to display your expertise, so that when it comes time to sell, you’re the logical person your audience should buy from.
All of this takes some skill, but you don’t need to be a born networker to pull it off. To find your audience and engage with them where they’re already hanging out, begin asking yourself these questions:
Where does your audience hang out? Consider online and offline sources. Think about local events, trade shows, conferences, web forums, social media groups, etc. Both Facebook and LinkedIn have recently made their groups easier to find and browse.
To get a more detailed look at 10 (sometimes unexpected) places you can find your audience—and what you should be doing to get leads once you find them—I’d also recommend you download my free guide below:
What do they care about? Once you’ve located where they hang out, start poking around and you’ll quickly discover the hot-button issues for your market. You may be surprised with something you weren’t even considering.
How can you provide value to these people? When you dip your toes into your audience’s conversations, you don’t want to talk about yourself and your product all the time. To be successful, you need to provide value in some way to people in this group.
For example, say I make a product for video marketers. I’ve found some Facebook and LinkedIn groups where they seem to be talking video.
I wouldn’t want to join the group and just start talking about how awesome my product is and how it will help them. Most likely I’d get kicked out of the group for spamming—but beyond that, no one would care because no one knows, likes, or trusts me yet.
Instead, I’d want to comment on other members’ posts, adding thoughtful responses to what is already being said. The best responses will provoke people to reply back. Instead of writing “Great post, I fully agree,” I could try: “Great post. I fully agree. Have you considered turning your long video into a series of shorter videos—one for each point? I’ve seen this drive up engagement in the past.”
If there are no discussions you can easily jump into, try posing a question to the group. People love to show their expertise, so you’re more likely to engage with someone in this conversation.
I’d highly recommend staying active on multiple conversation channels—not only because it allows you to get more exposure, but because it allows you to add more value in each place. Let’s say in a LinkedIn group I saw a conversation about a new video marketing technique that was getting great results. I could flip over to a Facebook group and tell them about this new technique, providing value and establishing my authority.
Once people in your audience know, like, and trust you, they’re more likely to want to find out about what you have to offer. That’s when you can direct them to your landing pages and blog posts (with lead capture forms, of course) in order to start building an active and engaged email list you can market your products and services to.
For more on that, be sure to grab my free guide below. It’s full of tips on joining authentic conversations and finding appropriate ways to generate leads from them.
In the comments below, I’d love to hear your techniques for finding where your audience is hanging out and how you’ve joined in conversations there.