As a small business, finding your target audience in the initial stages be tough. Actually, DEFINING your target audience can be an extremely hard decision too. If you can’t be specific about who you are trying to sell your products to, it’s going to make your life as an entrepreneur difficult, resulting in time and money being wasted.
And for more established small businesses, even after you’ve already defined your audience, growing your database and finding new prospects is always a challenge. There are vast amounts of online courses around the web, telling you how to grow your email list of targeted followers, or spend x amount on facebook ads and you’ll make x amount of money. There’s so much information in fact, that one could get sidetracked.
So I’m going to list just five key places where you can experiment with identifying and reaching your target audience.
Importantly – some of these ideas are not easy to implement, it takes thinking and researching, it takes time. Marketing and business development activities are almost never easy. They can be fun, yes – but there are no magic pills.
Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are a fantastic avenue for testing the waters to see if there really is a market for your product. Invest into great graphics and a quality video for your Kickstarter campaign, and it’ll give you a chance to see how many people are interested in your product.
Facebook Groups & Ads
Over the last year Facebook has lost a substantial number of small business owners and entrepreneurs. The reason? Because we now need to pay to reach our audience. Even on our own established Facebook Page!
However, using the Facebook Advertising system is a good way to reach out, test, and discover who your potential target market is.. The benefit of Facebook ads is that you can narrow down your targeting to a very specific criteria. For example, you can target Facebook users by age range, gender, where they live (town, city), what other interests they have, what smartphones, tablets, and computers they use, and even what they spend money on.
You can use Facebook ads to promote products, webinars and offers, and collect emails to market future products to. Creating a good Facebook ad can take time, but it’s worth it as it will help to reveal more information about your target audience.
Another way you can collect market data through Facebook is by signing up to Facebook Groups that are visited by potential customers. You can interact with these communities, engage in conversations, and encourage them to discuss issues that your products might help resolve.
Twitter chats are another way of promoting your product, conducting market research, and connecting with your target audience.
Twitter chats are free and can be hosted by anyone with a Twitter account. Just choose a date, time and a hashtag so your audience can follow along. Then monitor your #hashtag to read and reply to those who take part. It’s best to advertise the chat well ahead of time through your traditional methods of promotion (email list, blog, other social networks).
With Twitter chats, you can encourage people to talk about a subject matter that relates to your audience, and the problem that your product/service might solve.
One good example of Twitter Chats that I’ve noticed recently are by the team at company, Buffer. They set up a Twitter Chat that runs on Wednesdays at 9am PST and is monitored by the hashtag #Bufferchat. Buffer invites guests to respond to any questions, and anyone who wants to join in and ask a question can simply search #Bufferchat on Twitter to see a live feed of the questions and responses.
Here is a perfect guide on how to host a Twitter chat
Niche Youtube Channels, Social Media Accounts, and Blogs
Connecting with niche blogs that already have a following is an ideal way to reach out to your target audience. There are various ways you can work with niche blogs. Guest blogging is an option. Show off your value on a topic by writing a blog post for them. It’s a way to promote yourself, your blog/product, and best of all, it’s free! You are leveraging their audience. The one issue with this is that it takes time and effort. It’s important to build up a relationship with the blog owner instead of just emailing and asking to be featured on their blog.
Not only are there influential niche blogs you can connect with, but there are also YouTube channels, instagram accounts, and many other social networks. You could partner with influential youtube channels, and co-create a video that somehow promotes your product or brand.
Offline Events & Groups
Interacting with your target market online is good, but still, in my opinion, it doesn’t beat face to face conversations with people at networking events and other events where you get to meet potential customers.
Search around for meet-up groups in your local area and start attending some of these. Talk to other small business owners, pitch your idea to them, and find out what they think. Go to festivals and local events where you can meet people and businesses in your area. And keep an open mind – use these opportunities to ask questions and find out more about what people need, so that you can provide some solutions later.