Understanding your audience is foundational to your marketing efforts. Yet too often when we do our research, we don’t get close enough, preferring to stay safely behind our computer screens. We lurk in the forums where our audience gathers and read blog posts about our niche. But we may never actually talk to someone in real time. You can make huge gains when you change that behavior.
Today’s Action Step: Join some kind of group that lots of members of your target market are a part of and begin to participate without expectation of making a sale. Ideally, you’ll be able to interact with your audience offline. If that’s impossible, at least seek out a way to make connections that will allow you to talk with your target market on the phone.
As you probably already know, Meetup.com is great for this. If your target market belongs to a particular professional organization, you may want to join the local chapter. You might also look for gathering places where your market hangs out – they may be hidden sources of real-life opportunities. Maybe your audience likes the coffee shop in town, and lots of them go to Open Mic Night every Wednesday, for example.
“Without expectation of making a sale” is an important part of this. Especially if you’re an outsider, you’ll find yourself shut out pretty fast if people can feel you have an ulterior motive. Go just to make friends and mean it. Tell yourself that you’re not allowed to work with anyone in the group for the first six months if you have to. The long-term relationship will benefit you much more.
The more we can see the world from our audience’s point of view and let that understanding inform what we offer, the more successful we’ll be. We can obtain that understanding most quickly when we interact in person and can use all our senses to perceive someone. The phone where we can hear tone of voice is a decent substitute, but exchanging emails or surfing online removes us too much from real interaction. Try “getting out of the building,” as they say in start-up culture, and see what you learn.