One of the most seemingly difficult things that any business looking to grow online must figure out is where their audience hangs out. With so many channels, from Google search to social media, it can be extremely intimidating to know where to start. In this post I am going to give you some practical advice on how to find where your potential customers live online.
Buyer personas are supposed to represent who your target audience is and what they are supposed to be like. Before you can find out where your potential customers are, you first need to define who they are.
Defining your ideal customer is going to not only help you create great products, it’s going to help keep you focused on your sales and marketing efforts. By simply defining who you want to target, you can begin creating messaging that aligns with their goals.
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is assuming that their product or service is for everyone. Sorry, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you market your product to everyone, you will end up selling to no one.
Just think about it, we like to talk, hang out and do business with people like us right? Well, your customers feel the same way. When you water down your message you alienate everyone and connect with no one. Think about your average politician. They strive to make everyone happy, take no stance, and as a result, everyone dislikes them.
We can segment at a much lower level than ever before. The internet allows for people to connect and create small networks that were not possible before. There are niche communities all across the web that serve very specific needs.
There are millions of communities for things like video gamers, moms to be, farm equipment, honestly, if you can think of it, it probably exists. In fact, internet marketing expert Russell Brunson made his first million dollars selling a DVD that showed people how to make a potato gun.
So what does that mean for you and your business?
Just because you have a website, doesn’t mean that potential customers are going to come flocking to you. This is one area that many in the inbound marketing community seemed to overlook. If you want people to find you, you first need to find them.
Here’s what I mean.
If you have a small business that sells custom pet tags, just having a website and publishing content isn’t going to drive business quickly. By the time your prospects find your site, you may be out of business.
A smarter approach would be to find out where pet enthusiast hangout online and connect with them. You’ll be able to build relationships with people you are creating a product for and you’ll be able to tell them where they can find your product.
There are many tools out there to help you find online communities, but I want to show you a few quick and free ways to get started.
Google search is a great place to start. But searching for groups and communities is a little different than searching for products or answers. When searching for groups, you’ll want to modify your search. To make sure you get better results, we’ll use something called an advanced operator. This will restrict what Google will pull and give you better results. In this case, we want to use quotations around our search term. This forces Google to only returns sites that have an exact match of our query.
In the case of our customized pet tag business, we could use the following to find potential groups.
“Pet Community Online”
“Dog Owner Forum”
“Cat Owner Forum”
Using terms like forum or community will also help make sure that we find sites where our potential clients hangout and chat.
Facebook has more than a billion users. So chances are, there is at least one person on there that would like your product. Because of updates to the way Facebook shows content, it’s harder than ever for a business page to gain visibility. But, Facebook groups are a great place to connect with potential clients.
On Facebook, you can search for groups in two places.
First, you can simply use the search bar. Type in something like, “Dog Owners Group” and they will give you a few options. Now, some of these groups will likely need to approve your membership. If you get approved, don't just start selling, instead build relationships!
The second way to search groups is with Group Discovery. Login into to Facebook and go here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/?category=discover
Facebook will look at your profile, what you are interested in and then suggest groups for you to join. This is a great way to find groups of people that have similar interests as you.
If you are in the B2B space, LinkedIn is a great place to connect with other business leaders and decisions makers. Just like Facebook, LinkedIn Groups provide a great place to build your authority and create connections with potential customers.
To search groups on LinkedIn, login to your profile and use the search function at the top of the page. Put in a keyword and you’ll see some results start to pop up. Look for results with the “group” label. Check out the groups, see how many people are in the group and join if it’s a good fit.
While Twitter doesn’t have groups, it can be a very powerful platform to find potential customers and build your community. Twitter has a great search function that can help you get connected. Search one of your keywords and you’ll find popular hashtags as well as thought leaders you should follow.
By building your base on Twitter, sharing your content as well as content from other thought leaders and using hashtags, you can begin to attract others to you as well. I’ve used this platform myself to build a following of over 28,000.
Once you’ve connected with your prospects online, your first goal should be to build credibility. People won’t come to your site just because you tell them how awesome you are. You have to show them that you know what you are talking about and that you want to help them.
Whether your selling services or products, your approach should be similar. Look for pain points and frustrations in the groups. If your product or service helps to alleviate problems, empathize with the pain and share some content from your site about how you’ve tried to solve the pain.
You need to position your self as a trusted adviser or a guide. When Phil Knight was starting Nike, he would go to local track meets and connect with the runners. As a runner himself, he knew their pains and worked to develop a solution to alleviate that pain. As a result, Nike crushed their competition and still maintain their dominance today. They are able to do this because they found their potential clients and solved their pains.
Whether you’ve been in business a while or just starting out, if you want to have success online, you need to find where your potential customers are and then go to them. Share your knowledge with them. Empathize with them. By building the relationship first, when it’s time to sell your product, they’ll be ready to buy.
To help you get started prospecting for potential new clients, we've created a worksheet that you can download for free. This social media prospecting sheet will help you stay focused and get the most out of your social prospecting activities. Just click the call-to-action below.
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