First Build an Audience Then Make Products
- Why should I work on building an audience before making my product?
- How do I use content marketing to build an audience?
- How do I use my audience to figure out which products to sell?
Johan and Alberta are two fashion model friends who like to play tennis when they're not walking the runway.
Johan and Alberta love everything about the sport - except for the clothes. After a match, they start talking about how boring they think tennis fashion is. This gives them a big idea: They could make and sell their own line of vogue tennis apparel.
Johan and Alberta know the style, but they've never started a business or made a product and they're not sure if there's a market for more fashionable tennis clothing.
Johan and Alberta's target audience are tennis players, but they don't know what products those people would buy. Making the apparel first and seeing what sells could be a bust, but if they start a tennis fashion blog they can attract potential customers, throw out ideas, and see if there's interest.
Usually, a business creates a product, then 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 then, instead of creating a product, you engage with that audience through content marketing like social media and blog posts.
As you create unique content and work to build an online community around it, you can research and learn more about which products and services your audience really wants.
You can then create a new product based on these insights. Then, when you're ready to launch your product, you have the big advantage of already having a loyal audience that's familiar with your brand.
Your first step is to think about who's in your target audience. What type of people are they? Where are they active online? What are their main interests? Which of those interests is your brand looking to cater to?
Instead of developing products for the target audience you've found, create and curate online content that they'll enjoy.
For Johan and Alberta, this could mean starting a tennis style blog that will attract the most fashion-conscious players.
Content can be videos, images, or written posts. To keep people coming back, you'll need to post consistently. It often helps to create a schedule of what and when you'll publish to keep you organized and on track.
After you start making and sharing content, pay close attention to which posts are popular and unpopular so you can craft your future content to appeal to what your audience likes most.
Learn more about your audience by asking questions. Johan and Alberta could ask readers about their favourite tennis accessory, and the responses could reveal something about their audience like maybe people are really into patterned headbands.
Once you're making content, you can run social media ads to promote it and grow your audience.
Social media channels provide tools that allow you to target specific demographics and those who show interest in subjects and types of content that are similar to yours.
You can also look into collaborating with other sites that serve your target audience. For example, Johan and Alberta could write guest posts about fashion on general tennis sites and link back to their fashion blog.
Collect people's emails by including calls to action (CTAs) in your posts. Encourage people to sign up for a newsletter or email alerts by selling the value of your special offers and exclusive information. Then, when you launch a product, you have a jump start on your email marketing.
When you have an audience, think of new product ideas that could meet their needs and wants. Then share these ideas and see how people respond.
Johan and Alberta could create shirt designs, post images on their blog, and ask readers which ones they like. When their audience shows interest in design, Johan and Alberta know that's a good one to make and sell.
If your audience expresses that they want a certain product, consider offering it via pre-order. This helps your potential customers become actual customers, and helps you get the revenue you might need to make your product.
Tell your readers how many products you're making and keep them informed about how many are left. This helps encourage them to buy while supplies last. Then repeat the process with other product ideas.
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.
Building an audience can seem like a long process at first, so let's get started by making a list of to-do's you can work on now.
- Identify your target audience
- Figure out where your audience hangs out online
- Start following people who are popular and influential with your audience
- Pay attention to the types of posts that people in your audience like and share
- Start interacting with people in your audience
- Brainstorm Ideas for enjoyable and/or useful blog and social media posts.
As you build your audience, you can interact more and more with people on social media. When you do, make sure to be friendly and maintain your brand’s voice.
References: Google Webmasters, Think With Google, Google Primer