One of the main dogmas that is preached from people in Silicon Valley is that you need to validate your idea before building your product. This idea has several caveats that should be explored but for now we are going to keep it simple.
We will be looking at why you should work on building an audience before making a product. How to use content marketing to build an audience, and how to use your audience to figure out what products to sell?
Debbie and Susan are two fashion friends who play squash when they are not working. They love everything about the sport except the clothes. One day after a game they started to talk on how much they disliked the clothes. This conversation gave them the idea that they ought to start their own squash apparel.
Even though they know style, they never started a business or made a product before. They are not sure if there is a market for more fashionable squash clothing.
How could we find out?
Who would be the target audience for Debbie's and Susan's apparel?
- Squash players
- Fashion models
- Anyone who buys clothes
How can Debbie and Susan find out what kinds of styles and products people would be willing to buy?
- Make the product first and then see what sells
- Start a squash fashion blog with product ideas and see how people respond
- It's impossible
Their target audience are squash players, but they don't know what products those people would buy. Making the product first and seeing what sells could be costly. But if they start a squash fashion blog they can attract potential customers, throw out ideas, and see if there's interest.
Usually a business creates a product, markets it to their target audience. But there's also an "audience first" approach to making products.
In the "audience first" model you still need to identify and research a target audience. But instead of creating a product, you engage with that audience through content marketing like social media and blog posts.
While creating unique content and work towards building an online community around it, you can research and learn more about which products and services your audience really wants.
You can create a new product based on these insights. Once you are ready to launch your product, you'll have the advantage of already having a loyal audience that's familiar with your brand.
The first step is to think who is your target audience. What type of people are they? Where are they active online? And so on.
Instead of spending time and resources developing products for your audience you've found online, create and curate online content that they will find enjoyable. For Debbie and Susan this could mean starting a squash style blog that will attract the most fashion-conscious players.
The content that you create could be anything. It could be videos, images, or written posts. For your audience to keep coming back you will need to write consistently. It could help if you create a schedule of what and when you'll publish to keep yourself on track and organized.
As you are building content and sharing it with your audience, pay attention to which posts are popular and unpopular so you can craft your future content to appeal to what your audience likes the most.
Collect people's emails by including calls to action. Encourage them to sign up for a newsletter or email alerts by selling value of your special offers and exclusive information. Then when you launch a product, you have a jump-start on your email marketing.
There is a lot of value you can get from taking an audience's first approach. Your audience will be able to tell you what they actually want before investing any resources. Just remember to keep producing content while working to sell products. This will allow you to continue building your audience and making more and more sales.
As you build your audience make sure to be friendly and maintain your brand's voice.