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When you play the game of building a list, it’s best to use the right strategy.  Last week, we looked at two strategies for playing the big game —

  • The old school Product First Strategy that often leads to frustration and disappointment and
  • The softer Audience First Strategy that makes it much easier to get your product/service offerings right for your market.

Let’s do it the easy way — audience first.  For those of you relatively new either to business or to online marketing, that begs the question:

Where do I find that audience online?

I’ll be honest with you.  Initially you guess.  It’s guesswork on purpose, and with a strategy and some tactics to take the guesswork out as time goes on.  It works something like this.

You know your area of expertise and have a good idea of either the service you want to deliver or the products you want to create.  You also have a good idea of your market.  The people you most want to serve. 

A word of warning….

If it’s “anyone who….” or “Just everyone, really”, you’re playing the wrong game.  You need to Know Your Niche first. 

And even with this pretty clear idea of who you want to serve, you’re guessing, often without even realising it. 

Guess your audience

You assume, rightly or wrongly, that this group of people — your market, your audienceactually wants what you have to offer.  That you actually understand what their problems are and have a solution that they want and are willing to buy.  Take these untried and untested assumptions down the product first route, and you’re asking for trouble. 

Take them the audience first way, and you can test this, and every other assumption you have about your business.  And adapt and change them as you go along.   

Let’s say your market is stay-at-home mums wanting to set up a business now that their children have reached school age.  You look for them in the obvious places — where they are most likely to hang out online.  On websites like, on FaceBook, Instagram or Pinterest — and on those social networks, the groups devoted to mothers with small children, and mums setting up a new business.

The first stage of your strategy to reach them is passive.  You set up your shop window on these social networks, making sure your profile shows you, demonstrates your expertise, and speaks directly to their biggest need, or what you assume is their biggest need.  You may not know that yet.  It’s all part of playing the Audience First game.

Your passive strategy also involves setting up your web pages, the ones that matter most to your business.  The ones that will help you uncover your customer’s needs and the suitability of your product/service offering as quickly as possible.  This means having a blog and consistently posting valuable content on there — content that is relevant and meaningful to your audience. 

It means having at least one lead magnet to entice your potential customers to your site, and a landing page where you can encourage them to sign up to your list.  And that all important email campaign set up in your auto responder.

Not just any lead magnet either; one that offers exceptional value to your audience.  You’ll soon know whether your lead magnet resonates with them, and whether you’re making the right assumptions as you start to deploy your active strategy  This is where you

Find and connect with your audience online. 

Identify and join groups where your potential customers are active online.  And listen.  This is sooooo important.  It tells you whether you’ve got your assumptions right.  Do you really know their biggest problems? What they most want and need?  Listen and you’ll soon discover what most worries them.

You may find there are different market segments here, with different wants and needs.  Even better.  You can now refine your offer so that you are specifically addressing the needs of just one group within this bigger market of stay-at-home mums.   

Contribute to those discussions.  Post useful information — tips, approaches, offer suggestions.  A link to your blog where a particular post could answer someone’s question or resolve a problem they’ve brought up.  You could in time, suggest they download your lead magnet and join your list.  Whatever you deem to be of value.  You’ll soon know.  Because

You’re keeping tabs on what’s working and what isn’t

Monitoring your traffic

This is important and involves monitoring the response you get to your posts, your suggestions and engagement online.  Initially, this can be simply checking out the comments or number of likes you get.  It’s only an early indication of how well your offer lands with this group. 

On your website it will involve checking out who’s visiting your site, where they’re coming from and what they’re doing once they get there.  That means setting up, or having someone set up, Google Analytics so that you can track what’s happening.  More on that on another post…

As they get to know you and realise you have expertise that is useful to them, you can set up your own group, and begin to grow a following of your own.   Posting here on a regular basis, engaging your audience, consistently delivering great content, and asking your followers to invite those they know to join you.  Eventually, word will get out that you are the expert worth following, because your content is relevant and helpful, specifically to that niche.

And once you know your market and what they want; once you know your offer is resonating with them, you can engage in your pro-active strategies — where you reach out directly and find the right prospects for your business.  More on that in our next post.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it on social networks with the coaches, consultants and change makers you know who would find this useful. 

As you apply these principles to your business you may come unstuck.  Run into problems you don’t understand or know how to solve.  I’ll be live on Wednesdays at 12:30pm UK time for a Q&A. Bring your questions — or post them here — and get them answered.