Growth October 17, 2020

Ask IH: What to do 🤔 if you are not good at building an audience?

Mihir Naik @mihir

I am a maker and right now working on 2 side projects. I am decent at coding but I am bad in marketing and building audience. I am working on that skill but what to do if you are not good at building an audience?
Is it fine we if the focus on making a product that people really want and let organically build an audience around the product?

Do share your thoughts.

  1. 9

    So here's the deal from someone like myself who is also a "maker/inventor" and later learned marketing.

    It's about getting out of your comfort zones. You are asking this question because it's not that you do not have the skills to market, it's your midnset holding you back (i.e., getting rejected sucks, you don't think your product service has value, etc).

    The easy way I figured this out is to ignore salesy, high converting landing pages, etc. Ignore all of that now.

    Just go and share your ideas wherever you audience is. Provide value from your expertise. People will naturally follow you. No one likes snake oil salesmen. People love smarts. You have smarts. Share and people will follow.

    Then, you can think about monetizing that audience.

    1. 1

      "It's about getting out of your comfort zones."
      Great advice. Thanks.

      I always have that fear in my mind that if I will write a blog or tweet or anything. All internet people will judge me or my writing skills or my product and that's stopping me.
      Maybe I should work on my fear and should start sharing my thoughts, idea or learning more publically.

  2. 6

    Do these:

    1. Start with 1 blog per week - Do some basic keyword search and write on topics that people are searching for but still related to your product.
    2. Automate your Twitter account. Every weekend, schedule around 10-20 awesome tweets and forget. Reply to every comment if possible.
    3. Learn basics of SEO and improve your website. Keep updating and improving.

    Try these 3 things for 3-4 months and you should start seeing results.

    Do not worry too much about building audience.

    1. 1

      Agree. soon start with a blog.

    2. 1

      1 quality blog per week can be very hard tbh (especially if you're starting out), just pointing this out so OP doesn't get too discouraged if he doesn't hit this target.

      1. 3

        He would need to allocate a part of his time towards this even though it might come at an expense of building a new feature.

        Intial blog posts need not be great. But the whole idea is to get into the habit of writing.

    3. 1

      Thats a very measurable advice 🙏🙌

  3. 5
    1. use twitter
    2. tweet more, tagged more.
    3. share how the product works and give others to try it out 5-10 people
    4. get feedback, ask them what can be improve and what feature they need

    you have 1 month to do this.
    break it down to 4 weeks
    5 days
    1 day

    Do it 1 time a week or 2 times a week.
    Be consistent.

    1. 1

      Thanks, my mate.

  4. 5

    What is your product? If you're charging more than say $10/month, you should be out there doing sales, not doing marketing. Go hustle for users!

    Would you open a restaurant in some isolated strip mall and expect customers to just magically start appearing at your shop for dinner?

    Of course not! You'd be trying to get reviewed in the local paper, listing yourself on Yelp and maybe running ads to promote yourself, and dropping flyers at households / businesses nearby with your menu and hours. If you were a real hustler, you might even stand on a busy street nearby and invite passersby to come try your restaurant and give them a discount coupon!

    The same thing is true with software. Just because you're writing code instead of flipping burgers doesn't change the need to hustle to start any business.

    In the early days, your go to market can be very simple: go to where your users are and tell them about what you're doing directly. The more direct the better -- if you can call them, do that. If you can email them, do that too. Post on forums where they hang out. Don't fuck around with Twitter or starting a blog. I see a lot of people on this website talking about this stuff -- I think it's because they want an excuse not to talk to potential customers and get rejected. You have no audience yet. Blogs and social media content will be useful later, but right now it's just an excuse now to not go out and hustle for users. Set up a basic landing page and a company email and just start reaching out to potential customers.

    1. 1

      Thanks for explaining it with an example.

  5. 3

    Then don't do marketing.
    Do Sales.
    @louisswiss made Sales for Founders.
    Sales is a lot simpler than marketing because you get immediate feedback, and you can still be analytical. Measure your efforts and iterate. Just like developing.

    Once you get a few sales, you can use the learnings and cash to do better marketing. You can use your revenue to get past organic growth techniques that cost $0 but a lot of time. You can jump right into knowing your exact customer demographic, pyschographic and what works to get them to pull out their credit card.

  6. 3

    Q. What to do if you’re not good at building an audience.

    A. Forget building an audience. Focus on building a great product and then advertising it anyway you can with straight up paid ads. If your product is good enough and solves a real problem well then it will grow organically when you start to get eyeballs on it.

  7. 2

    Focus on content marketing. If you're not comfortable on video (which would give you the fastest bang for the effort usually) then just focus on written content.

    You'll find the first 6 months of any content marketing campaign will bring back depressing results, but keep pushing through and stay faithful to the process and you'll start gathering a following.

    Since you'll likely have no audience yet, I would post these blogs on your website but also on Medium as a syndication channel. Take snippets of the content to post on social media too (which would be pretty much a void when starting out but that's okay). Repost it on Hacker News too which is an easy syndication place.

    One of the best kind of content pieces you can do is a data study - preferably data that you yourself own and related to your product.

    A few examples of this at Empire Flippers was me creating our State of the Industry Report. It's an annual 83-90 page report analyzing all the businesses we sold for the year, what went down, how it compares and trends with previosu years etc. It's especially unique in the industry because we sell enough deals it actually has some weight, but also because it's the only report of its kind to reveal real sales prices ( everyone else has to scrape the data because they don't do enough deals to make their own report, thus no access to the true sales price).

    Almost every company will have some sort of data, and those are going to be some of your most fascinating reads to your target market. You'll be able to use that data over and over again throughout all of your content as well :-)

    I would also recommend signing up for an Ahrefs account for at least a month and just collect reams of potential keywords you can target on the blog to get some SEO traffic to start flowing in a few months time. SEO is absolute gold when you do it right and if the niche can support it, but similar to traditional content marketing it'll take a long time to work.

    If you see a piece of your content on say Medium or your blog converting really well into customers or subscribers etc, then take that piece of content throw it into facebook ads or google ads with a retarget campaign. Make sure your whole audience sees it. You already know this content worked well organically, so it should theoretically work well in a paid environment targeting people that already know you. If it does work well, then you can expand it into cold traffic too. After people hit that blog URL have a custom audience slice it up to do a retarget campaign to everyone that visited that URL for 3 or 5 seconds or more (you want people who stayed who didn't just bounce right away) and you can do a direct call to action to sell your product or service you've built as these people are likely very warm. You slice this data by different timelines too as the audience is built bigger, so say you have a 3,000 visitors in the last 30 days, you could target them with the more CTA triggering ad cause they've shown engagement recently, then for all users after that 30 days you might target them with more content that has proven to work organically and just repeat the cycle basically.

    The key to producing an audience that loves you is obsessively asking "Does this add value to them?" not "Will this convert for me?"

    The second question is important too, cause you could write something that adds extreme value to your audience but has nothing really to do with what you do, so it's always worth asking that question too but the priority is on the value question.

    A high quality product is a huge boon when it comes to marketing, but in my opinion you still need to do the marketing. Unless you went viral somewhat with other people talking about you, you still need to get the word out. If your product is really great, you can feel great about marketing it, because you know you're really helping someone and that is also another key component to doing lasting great things with creating a real audience :-)

    1. 1

      Thanks for taking the time and sharing it in details. I am finding out right now that where my audiences are hanging out and based on it I will plan my content.

      1. 2

        Great thing to do :-)

        It's always best to find the room where everyone you want to reach is hanging out before shouting in a charismatic way :D

  8. 2

    You learn, you experiment, you stay consistent. There's no other way.

    You want to play entrepreneur?

    Then sales/marketing is non-negotiable.

    That said. If you need some pointers on where best to start, I'd say the lowest-hanging fruit is Twitter.

    Social media is a lot less intimidating than something like content marketing, SEO, cold emails, etc.

    All you really need to do is be present, optimize your Twitter profile, follow high-profile influencers in your niche, and then comment consistently (add massive value) on their content, day in and day out.

    I wrote a succinct guide for indie hackers who want to build their audience from scratch, you might find it useful:

    Disclaimer: founder of a Twitter growth tool

  9. 2

    Building an audience is not rocket science. Engineering folks look for shortcuts to automate things. Building an audience has NO shortcuts, just hard work. Don't wait for folks to find you. Don't advertise so some .005% sign up for your newsletter. Be proactive and use cold outreach. Learn how to break out of the introvert shell. Offer something of value to keep your audience engaged.

  10. 2

    I don’t know about your product, but let’s assume your product is SaaS.

    1. You can use Paid ads, it will drive traffic to your website fast, but need investing some money for trial and error.

    2. Cold outreach, cheap and slow, but if you know how you do it, you can get sales and valuable feedback.

    3. Invlove in forum & group disscusion which related with your project, but be careful to not spam.

    4. Launch on producthunt, just kidding :)

  11. 2

    Great question.

    I have the opposite problem. I'm a 20 year marketing veteran and working on being a better coder.

    In March, I decided I wanted to stumble through building/coding my project. It's hard, I am horrible at it but I just keep doing it.

    Steps I took:

    1. I found a Youtube channel that speaks to me - coding for newbies (I needed pictures). I found a channel that breaks things down at a level I can understand.

    2. Starting applying what I learned, failed and kept failing until I got a small win. A small win pushed me to keep going.

    3. Repeat!

    Simple advice, If you want to be a great marketer, just do it.

    Have a listen:

    Good luck. Feel free to reach out for marketing advice. Happy to help.

    1. 1

      Sure and thanks for the links.

    2. 1

      What's the youtube channel you follow to learn coding?

  12. 2

    I feel you. I think I have great tech skills, but I lack marketing / growth experience.

    You can't expect to get clients just by having a great product. How will they find out about it?

    My 2 cents: you have tech chops, probably self-taught. Apply the same grit and learning skills, and build up your know-how in marketing and customer acquisition, and complement these with other soft skills. For myself, I've been working on my writing. Not that it shows, this comment is terrible!

    Best of luck!

    1. 1

      This comment is just fine 🙌

  13. 1

    You need a marketing partner, it's important

  14. 1

    Will you paid someone to execute your side projects from 0 to 1 ?

  15. 1

    I have the same question :P

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