Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.
This week’s question comes from James McBryan, who asks:
This comment appeared on a post about how to validate your business idea by finding the people in your market and learning from them. Part of the advice in the post was to find the places online that your market congregates: specialized forums, subreddits, blogs and the like.
But the truth, as this question points out, is that not every market necessarily congregates. Many businesses have very scattered audiences.
There are a few approaches I’d recommend to reach those audiences:
1) Get Targeted
If you’ve built personas for who your target customers are, what they do and how they behave, then you should be able to find them using a few different channels.
For example, if you know that your audience tends to be Communications Directors at non-profits, you can use LinkedIn’s search functionality to filter people with those roles and employers. Similar opportunities exist with Facebook. Yes, this requires quite some time and effort, but finding 25 people who match your target audience exactly and spending the time to talk and learn from them could unlock many secrets about even better places to find your audience that you may not have known existed.
2) Backtrack from Popular Content Pieces
Somewhere, someone has written some content pieces, or built a site, that has resonated with at least a significant chunk of your audience.
It might be spread across many different content pieces, but that’s okay. This method will still work.
Enter the content or site URL into BuzzSumo, and click on “View Sharers.”
What you’ll get is a list of Twitter users who shared the content (i.e., found it useful!).
These tend to be either (1) people in your target audience who you can reach out to for validation or sales, or (2) people who influence segments of your target audience, who you can also reach out to for engagement.
3) Scale Up
In James’ question, he mentions that with the “community outreach” approach, his odds of finding people that fit his target customer personas run somewhere around 1 in 50 at best. Now, 2% isn’t that bad! But scaling this up is a numbers game, so I suggest trying to look for opportunities to reach larger audiences, even if it comes at the expense of being a bit more targeted.
- Guest post for larger, more generalized publications (you’ll probably have to start by getting published in smaller ones, and then move up the chain)
- SEO is a huge opportunity here (here’s how we do it), which James is smartly already doing.
- Brute force! Hire as many warm bodies (virtual assistants, online researchers, etc…) as you can afford, and have them apply the first two approaches I mentioned in this post in an effort to build your outreach list as large as possible.
I hope this helps, and would love to hear any other ideas that have worked for our readers. Let us know in the comments!