How to search for your audience

December 21, 2020 · 11 minutes reading time

Transcript of episode 2

In this episode, I’m going to talk about how to search for your audience. I assume that you are here because you’re a founder or indie hacker or indie creator who creates something interesting and is now looking for the audience whom you want to help with that.

The process that I typically use for audience development. I call it FUSE.

It has four steps. Find, understand, select, and engage.

“Find” means finding your audience in general. Where do they hang out? What do they talk about? When are they reachable, and so on.

“Understand” means, really “get” them, really understand what are they talking about? What are their problems? What are they looking for? What are their needs? And all this in order to judge how you can help them.

“Select” means: Select a few members of that audience that you find in order to continue to work with them. You can’t work with the whole world at once. Let’s say pick three people who you want to work with, as a start.

And then “Engage” means: Engage with them in a conversation. You found those three people who you want to work with, engaged with them in a fruitful conversation about their needs, about what they do and so on and so on.

Finding your audience

The FUSE process will allow you to develop an audience for your product or service. In this episode, I’ll talk especially about the first step: How to find your audience.

I have to take one step back because I can’t really tell you how to find your audience. I can only tell you how to search for your audience and maximize the probability that you will find them. That said, let’s get started with an example.

An example

Let’s say you are a user interface developer who creates all these really nice user interfaces that the users can work with. You have been that for some time, you are a senior user interface developer, and you want to try something new. You set yourself two goals:

Goal no. one is: Help other, more junior, UI developers to get started, to improve their work, to save time creating UIs, and so on.

Goal no. two is: You want to make money with this.

You don’t know their problems yet. Therefore, you cannot know a solution yet. But that will come. Will it be a job website, a tool or a framework, will you write a book, or will you create an online course? Decide that later when you know the problems of your audience.

This week, I read a nice article by Jelmer Pé, it’s called: The ultimate guide to building audience-first. I put the link to that article in the show notes and in the blog post. He tells you the typical steps that you do when you try to understand your audience.

Step one is: You think of your audience, your typical member of your audience, and you ask yourself: What do they do the whole day long? What do they do in their jobs? What do they do when they get up, when they have breakfast, and so on. I would suggest you also ask yourself: How can that be made visible?

In the case of user interface developers, what do they do? They create UIs the whole day long, they use tools, they use methods, they use frameworks for creating good UIs. Maybe they want to develop their craft, so they read books, and they take online courses to learn more.

While I’m talking about this, I’m drawing a little diagram on a piece of paper, the UI developer is in the middle, and I put everything around that I have identified, for example, the UI developer works with frameworks, something like React, like Vue, like Svelte and what all these frameworks are called that they use.

UI developers as example audience

They use methods like drawing, coding, testing. UI developers also use tools like Figma or like relate.app – pretty new, pretty attractive. They finally create real UIs made of HTML, CSS, JavaScript. They use colors, they use typography to have nice fonts and good spacing between text parts and so on.

Maybe they want to develop their craft, so they read books. For example, Learning React by Alex Banks and Eve Porcello. React is one of those frameworks that they use, to write their UI software.

Maybe they take online courses: There’s a page on reactjs.org that describes the online courses that are available in the community and as paid courses. Why do I tell you all this?

From visible evidence, via the creator, to the audience

These are all visible parts that you can see. For example, a book is visible. You can find it on Amazon. You can look who’s the author. The author is a person. This is good because you can find them on Twitter, the well-known social network.

The advantage of Twitter is that you can easily contact those persons. If people are on Twitter, they don’t have a problem with being contacted, in contrast to email, for example. Cold emailing someone, well, it takes some more preparation!

When I take the book as an example, “Learning React” by Alex Banks and Eve Porcello: He can be found at @moontahoe on Twitter, and she can be found at @eveporcello on Twitter. If you look where your audience is hanging out, I would start looking at the followers of Alex Banks and Eve Porcello: Who are they? What’s their bio like? If you look at the bio of the followers: What do they do ? Who are they? This would be a good example to get started.

Or, the other way round: online courses. When you look on the ReactJS website where the courses are listed, you will find, for example, Tyler McGinnis. He has lots of good courses on front-end development. He also has a site called ui.dev where he sells all his courses. You’ll find both on Twitter, Tyler McGinnis at @tylermcginnis of course, and ui.dev at @uidotdev. So, two other good places where you could have a look for the followers: Who is following Tyler McGinnis, who’s following ui.dev? These people must be interested, obviously, in UI development. So they are members of your potential audience!

You can continue with this – books and online courses are only an example! How about all these artifacts that a UI developer is creating, for example, HTML code, CSS code, JS code. What are good tools to create that? Where are resources where people like to read about all this?

Or, color and typography, there must be books about that! There must be online courses about color and typography. So, lots and lots of places on the Net where you can find your audience and where they hang out.

Summary: 4 steps to search for your audience

I have shown you a step-by-step way to search for your audience. Let’s summarize:

Audience search

Step 1: Think about your audience, imagine them, imagine what they do all day long.

Step 2: Search for visible evidence of what they do. Search for books, courses, conferences, blogs, tools, frameworks, whatever comes to your mind that could be a visible evidence of what your audience members do.

Step 3: Then find the creators of that visible evidence. Find the book authors, the course authors, the conference organizers, the blog writers, whatever – find the creators!

Step 4: Contact their followers. Find the followers of those creators, they must be interested in this subject, so they are potential members of your audience!

Contact them, engage with them, and you will be good.

Yeah, this would be the first step: Simply following your audience, looking where they hang out, what they talk about, and the next step would be understanding them. I talk more about that in the next podcast episode.

Progress on my startup GetTheAudience

Now for this week’s status of GetTheAudience, of my startup: Last week I told you why I started it and how it’s doing, and I want to continue with a brief status of the startup this week:

Today is day number 56 of the startup, so I’m now eight weeks into that.

This week I’ve got 32 users in my system, that’s 10 more since last week. The Audience Explorer function is working. If you are interested to see your audience live on screen, you can import their tweets from Twitter, you can see what they’re talking about, you can filter what they’re talking about, using keywords. You can also see the most often used words that occur in those tweets, and you can also filter using these most often used words.

You can see the people who are talking with each other. You can see when they post the most tweets, so when would be a good time to engage with them?

This sounds all very nice – almost too good to be true, right?

Switching towards non-vanity metrics

Well, all this works, but… Last week I said, I want to go a little more strategic, a little more planning, and systematically developing things forward.

I thought I need some kind of North star, some kind of a metric that tells me how I’m doing. I found Dave McClure’s AARRR metrics, the very old startup metrics called Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and Revenue. It’s called “arrr!” because it’s spelled AARRR, right? The pirate metrics.

youtube:https://www.youtube.com/embed/irjgfW0BIrw

Dave McClure defined these metrics because he saw that most startup founders work with too many vanity metrics, for example, the number of Twitter followers, or the number of visitors on my website. I also report these vanity metrics each day, every day, but they are not really that important!

These acquisition, activation, retention, referral and revenue metrics are much more important! Let’s have a look at them.

Acquisition means, am I at all able to acquire users and customers? Yes. I obviously am because I have 32 users in my application, so yeah, there must be some acquisition. People are visiting the website. People see me on Twitter. People hear my podcasts. So these are my acquisition media.

Activation? Yes. Also activation takes place. People sign up for the app. They get an invite code. I send them the invite code, and they really register and login to the system. They try the first functions, the audience Explorer function for example, to explore their audience.

Now comes the interesting part: the retention.

Here’s the hurdle!

At the moment, I must say: Oops, this is not working yet! This is where my bottleneck is. Because what happens is that people come in, they try a few things, and then they go away. They don’t return. There’s no retention at the moment, except … One person!

There is a lady, she lives in the United States and is learning no-code tools like Webflow, for example, and she’s so kind to use GetTheAudience and give me feedback every time. She returns every few days and uses the system.

When she hits a roadblock, she records a short video on Loom and sends me the link so I can see what happened, what were the blockers? Where can I improve GTA so that she’s able to continue. And… she does simply great! She makes me aware of all those tiny little quirks and things that don’t work at all, things that work well, too, so that I can improve. I’m very happy to have at least one user, so user retention is equal one!

Referral is zero at the moment. Nobody’s referring GTA to anyone else. Revenue is also zero because the product is free and I still have to make it paid. This will take time putting the payment functions into the product and would also put a little stress on me because if something’s not working yet then I’m a little hesitant to charge for that.

Taking action

What will I do the next weeks? I think I continue with these metrics, and I’m trying to improve upon them. I should definitely get more retention. It’s not good that the users vanish into the haze. What I will do is to email my list of all those users and ask them what’s happening.

Is it simply life getting in the way? Is it that the system gives them not enough feedback? For example, is the system telling the user, what it has just done? This was not the case last week – it may be that users come, they do something, and they don’t know how to continue. I will ask them what happens, and I think I will learn very, very much from these 32 users, potentially, to improve. I really like to improve retention first.

Referrals will come automatically by word of mouth, I think, when people are really excited about the product, then referral shouldn’t be a problem. Revenue, okay, that will come later!

Closing

That’s pretty much it for this week. Have fun and … Keep developing your audience!

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Outro

Thanks for listening to The Audience Explorer podcast, today.

You can find me on Twitter at @GetTheAudience and you can checkout the blog at gettheaudience.com

If you have any questions about this episode, reach out on Twitter or send an email to matthias@gettheaudience.com

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