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Start With An Audience Not A Product If You Want To Win

May 1, 2017   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business  //  3 Comments

This is another in my series for small business owners and entrepreneurs.  The full posting appears on my small business and entrepreneur blog, BobWarfield.com.

Many Entrepreneurs identify too much with their product or idea.  They want to go from a product idea to a plan for success.  But that’s not the best way and if you insist on following that approach, it can often lead into a long blind alley.

Here’s a question I saw on Quora recently:

I want to be an entrepreneur but I have no idea what business to start.

The answers were all about going for it with whatever product or service was easy to hand:

  • “If you have a skill that is in demand, do that as a freelancer.”
  • “Just get it started.  There is no work called failure.”
  • “Sell anything that comes your way by chance.”
  • “…the other suggestions about starting a business solving other peoples’ problems, i am a firm believer too.”
  • “The problems you face or your family or your friends.”

Those were the most upvoted answers.  Every single one jumps ahead to selling somethingrather than on finding someone to sell it to.

Minutes later, I answered a friend’s question on Facebook, and it was the identical theme.  He’d read my post announcing this blog.  He said he was joining the mailing list, but since he had no product ideas he wasn’t sure how useful it would be.

I told him to build an audience first and then build the product.  His reaction was that I was putting the cart before the horse.  But it’s really not–you need to start from audience, not product.  The reason is simple, and this is what I told my friend:

 

It turns out building the product and hoping they will come is how you put the cart before the horse. Until you know your audience well and know that you can reach enough of them to matter, the product doesn’t matter.

There are so many ideas and products out there that have never succeeded because of that. But, there are very few cases of building a significant audience that never got monetized.  I can only imagine those that didn’t were due to lack of trying.

I started preaching this approach way back in 2012.  I wrote about finding an audience before a product on my Smoothspan / Enterprise Irregulars blog that year.

I believe in it fervently.  It’s how I went about starting my Solopreneur business, CNCCookbook.

I wasn’t as systematic about finding my audience as I would be today.  But I made sure I had an engaged audience that I could grow before I tried to do anything else.

Click through to the full article on BobWarfield.com to see a step-by-step guide for how to find your audience.

 

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Start With An Audience Not A Product If You Want To Win
3 (60%) 3 votes

3 Comments

  • Very interesting article. I would agree that for the majority of businesses, this is a very important concept and one that is likely not very well understood by many. Even by me for my own business. We started out with a product we thought would be well received in industry and it was, just not on the level expected. Over time we found a better audience and have been growing ever since. It’s still a challenge to get in front of our new audience and to show them what we have and how it will benefit them – but we are learning more and more about that as we go along too.

    For sure, do not underestimate your target audience – the ones you expect to buy your product(s). You may think you know what they think and want – best to make sure. Consumers are fickle at best.

  • Yeah, that’s all fine and dandy. But it’s really hard to engage your audience without a product!

    Seems like you need to know your audience, AND you need to have something to offer them!

    I’m reading this because of gwizard. I needed that product. I wouldn’t be here without it. Plenty of other machining resources to read. The product (gwizard) is what differentiated this blog/email list for me.

    In fact, a lot of companies are getting it wrong now. They offer some wiz bang product or service before it’s stable! That just wastes my time and money…

    Yes, know your audience, but you’d better well have a solid stable product or service to offer them when you open your mouth for the first time! Or disaster will surely follow!

    • Dan, I appreciate your perspective and I’m glad you discovered us via G-Wizard, but it may surprise you to know that the vast majority of visitors to CNCCookbook don’t come here because of the products. They come here because I have written so many informative articles, many of which don’t even relate to the product.

      I know this because Google analytics tells me that’s the case for literally 96% of my visitors!

      You can hardly search Google for a CNC Machining related topic without coming across CNCCookbook.

      You really don’t need a product to attract your audience. In fact, you can get started building that audience with way less effort than it takes to create the product, and you can keep building the audience and learning from them the whole time you’re thinking up, creating, and perfecting that first product.

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