Why And How To Build An Audience – Long Before You Got A Product

Again and again, I hear from entrepreneurs and founders „we do not need marketing yet, we are still working on our product“. And later when they are nearing their launch or are trying to find their path to growth, what they are severely lacking is an audience, which they failed to build long before the launch.

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding social media I still meet over and over again is the belief that social media success can be switched by pushing a button and comes within days (or weeks). People still think of turning to social media marketing and the results coming with it as a decision and not a process and a long term commitment.

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The need to build an audience

Social media marketing success comes with an audience, and you need to grow this audience over time, cater for and feed it with content and intelligence to build trust.

Social media marketing is great for young companies, and startups as the minimum investments you need to make are your time, creativity and intelligence – rather than money. But this comes at a price: You need to build an audience first, and that takes time.

And the best time to start building an audience is the minute you decide to become an entrepreneur, to become a founder, start a company and will need to market a product or service some day in the (near) future. The sooner you start building your audience, the better, the more time you have to choose the right content, the right channels and voice, to try different processes and connect to your audience – and grow trust.

In social media, your marketing can start long before you have anything to sell. In social media marketing is 99% NOT about talking about your product. If you already build your audience while you are still working on your product, you can also use this audience to give you feedback on your plans and product early on. This way you can avoid building a product, which your potential customers would never buy. It can even go as far as starting to build an audience long before you ever know what your product is going to be.

And if you fail with your product, you still have your audience and can use it for your next venture.

Before you start growing an audience, make sure you know what your target group looks like and what they are interested in – otherwise, you may well end up with having an audience, just not an audience in your target market. If your targeting is amiss, your audience will not be of value and not give you the results you were looking for.

Here are some ideas for you to build an audience, before you have your product – or if you do not have a product at all.

1. Grow a Social Audience

Growing a social audience does not depend on having anything to sell at all. Growing a social audience is about providing compelling content and value on your social accounts and knowing how to spread the word. While your own content will help with growing a social audience, it is not mandatory. You can totally legitimately use other peoples’ content and curate it for your social channels.

In addition to sharing valuable content that is of interest to your target audience, you should join conversations in your niche and build relationships with influencers and role models. Be active, accessible and of value to your target audience.

2. Grow an Email list

You can do much more than set up a landing page for your future product and include a signup form for people who are eagerly awaiting the release of the product. The number of signups such a landing page generates is usually inconsequential – if you do not actively hunt for more email addresses.

Still, you can grow an Email list long before you have a product. There are several ways to do that. One of the most commonly used ways is to offer a Freebie like a whitepaper, an explanatory document or a how- to-illustration of a general problem from your niche – in exchange for an email signup.

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3. Use other peoples’ audiences

And brand yourself as a knowledgeable person in your niche. Guest blogging is a good way to do that. By writing articles for established blogs from your target niche, you can get yourself in front of an already existing audience. You can also mention the product you are working on in the author bio and create some buzz while you are still developing your product.

4. Start a blog (and content marketing)

No, your blog is not only a place to talk about your product, but it is also a place to offer value to your target audience. If you are creating a product, you should be an expert for the niche you are tackling. Create content with the insight and knowledge you have and publish this content on your blog.

The best time to start to build an audience is when you decide to become an entrepreneur, a founder, start a company or need to market a product.While other peoples’ content can help you grow an audience, your own content can establish you as an expert, as a helpful and valuable person. Branding yourself will help you gain interest in everything you do including releasing a new product.

5. Connect to influencers from your target market

By connecting to influencers from your niche, some of their shine can rub off on you.

The best way to connect is always in person. Networking events are a great place to start. But there are many more ways to do so, that do not require you and your influencers to be in the same town or country.
Why not interview some influencers for your blog? Or ask them for short statements to a current hot topic from your niche and make a compilation of different influencer opinions.

Most influencers are still honored to answer interview questions. With interviews, you acknowledge their influence – and can establish a first connection. And at the same time you get valuable and unique content for your blog.

6. Combine all of the above

The best results and the fastest growing audience, you will see if you connect the dots between the methods mentioned above to build an audience:

  • Use the author bio of your guest posts to mention your freebie for email list building
  • Share the interviews with influencers on your social channels and mention the influencers’ Social Media accounts – they are likely going to share your content
  • Ask influencers you already interviewed if they would be interested in a guest post by you
  • Use your blog posts on your social channels, this will help you grow the channels and grow an audience for your blog
  • Send out blog posts to your email subscribers, if your content is useful they will like it
  • Mention your social channels in your Email signature

And all the time while building your audience, you can go to them for feedback on your product development, some of them might be willing to test it beforehand. And when your product is finally ready for launch, you not only have an audience you can tell about your product. Also, your audience already knows who you are, and if you did the audience building right, they will trust you much more, as if they would have heard from your for the first time.

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  • http://www.drewgriffin.co/ Drew Griffin

    Enjoyed this article. I think the area I get stuck with sometimes is building the email list and wondering if the lead magnet (white paper etc) is strong enough to compel a reader or the traffic I do receive to opt-in….I guess there is only one way to find out and try. Perhaps the question I should ask myself is..”Would I opt-in to receive this?”

  • https://successpromotions.wordpress.com/ Benjamin Carter-Riley

    I have a email list, but I need to offer a strong incentive (rather than updates for my blog posts). I’m going test how well the email form converts if I give them a FREE eBook in exchange for their email address.

    Wish me luck! Haha. 🙂


    • Nikhil Dop

      Hi Benjamin Carter-Riley

      I happened to read your comment.

      I am a writer at various blogs like http://blog.slideserve.com etc

      I wanted to know how the free eBook exchange went about.

      Wishes to your goal 🙂


  • http://www.vinishgarg.com/ Vinish Garg

    Some really useful tips for startups to build an audience. Founders should think like filmmakers, showing teasers and behind-the-scenes shots to create the buzz and excitement for audience. Thanks for the great post!!

  • Nikhil Dop

    Yes this part of marketing is blurry and it helped a lot to know these new techniques. But do everyone allow guest blogging and the other tips that you mentioned?

    • TheSocialMarketers

      Hi Nikhil,
      the short answer is no, not every blog accepts guest blogs and not every blog will accept a newbie as a guest blogger.
      The longer answer is: There are blogs in every niche that do accept guest posts and are happy to do so. You can identify these blogs either because they have guest posts on their site, or they may have a guest posting policy somewhere on their site. Or you can simply email them and ask. The most successful way is usually to work your way up: Start with small blogs, once you have some reference guest posts you can aim for larger blogs. Research the topic very well and make sure you can offer them a valuable piece on a topic that is of interest to their audience. Make sure your piece of content meets the requirements of the blog: How long are their usual articles? How are the articles structured? Should you add some images? etc.

      Hope this helps,

      • Nikhil Dop

        Hi Susanna,

        That’s valuable info that you have given to my question on guest blogging, will try out niche blogs smaller blogs first. Or will email them and ask. Yes will try to do as you have advised.

        But what is the professional way to approach bloggers in the email way?

        Is there a structure to such email approach?

        Thank you yes it helped.