I'm struggling to narrow down my target market, how should I decide who to go after first?

I've made the usual mistake in that I built something before I narrowed down my focus onto a specific target market. The project is https://forte.chat which is an expert video chat marketplace.

Some day I'd love to have all kinds of people using it to make some extra income, or maybe even a living, but first I need to narrow down who would be the best group to try and help first. My thinking is that it should be people with a little bit of an audience and who are looking to offer extra interaction (maybe tutoring, consulting, etc.) but I don't know how to best decide who that group should be.

I'd really appreciate any general or specific advice anyone might have! Thanks.

  1. 3

    Have you talked to 10 people who you think should be using it?

    1. 1

      Only a few:

      • A freelance developer told me that they weren't interested in the marketplace aspect, only in easy video conferencing and taking payments
      • A course creator thought it was interesting, but they prefer asynchronous help - they don't want anything live
      • A photographer was interested more in a webinar-style recurring subscription based class, with more of a presentation/instructor video chat model (many watching, only one/few broadcasting at a time)
      • A few others who are very supportive but I don't think they'll actually use it, they're just being nice

      I feel like I'm casting too wide of a net right now, and getting such a wide variety of conflicting interests in features - it's hard to know what to take seriously.

  2. 1

    Explore who your primary and secondary personas should be.

    Talk to people who you think should be using it as per @joshdance. Once you've done this, literally draw out the personas. Google Search for a persona template and map them out. You might come across MANY personas. That's okay. That's the discovery part of this.

    Then focus on the primary person whose immediate needs you are able to most effectively tackle and put your blinders on. Of course, you may find a secondary persona that you can loosely tackle as well, but key is focus.

    1. 1

      Thanks! I'll check out persona templates right away. Any you'd personally recommend?

  3. 1

    Are you able to leverage your existing network? Do you happen to have a pocket of potential customers for your product that all exist in the same niche?

    Gonna profile you a bit, as you're a developer (as am I). You probably know a ton of software engineers, many of which you may consider to be "experts" at their craft. I'd start there. If there's any other patterns in your existing network, dig in there as well.

    I did a small bit of freelancing on Upwork last year (had to pay them bills while the ship was sinking) and a lot of my customers from then hit me up periodically not necessarily looking for me to do work, but to answer a quick question. That said, while I may not be a user, I know that having on-demand engineering resources to just bounce an idea or ask a quick question to is probably a decently viable market.

    1. 1

      Also probably worth nothing... and you may or may not have experienced this a bit as a freelancer.... people that need a developer to help with stuff, but are too damn paranoid to add a key to a server or divulge their password to somebody that they hired to help them.

      Those folks are definitely the people that would /use/ a platform like yours. Doing stuff on Upwork like that felt like a bait and switch, "I need somebody to do X" when in reality it was "I need somebody to hop on a video and walk me through X"

      1. 1

        Thanks for the reply! I do know engineers and you're right, I need to leverage that network much more heavily.

        One concern I had with going after engineers initially was that I feel like they actually need help the least in terms of making income on the side. Perhaps stupidly, I wanted to focus on the people I thought would benefit more - rather than the people who might be most likely to actually use it. I'll reconsider that.

        Follow up question : Do you think I should do cold outreach to upwork (and similar) freelancers? If so, how would you want to be approached in that context? I've never used them.

        1. 1

          So this brings up an interesting question... who's your customer?

          Is it the people serving as exports, or the people seeking experts?

          I know topical answer is "both" but for the sake of building an audience, which is going to be more important to focus on?

          Chicken and egg, you can't offer services to people seeking experts without experts and the experts can't help people if there's nobody to help.

          Regarding engineers and their ability to generate income, I actually think you're incorrect in that statement. Not everybody is a hustler, not everybody wants to work outside of their 9-5. And most importantly, especially folks that work at agencies, they tend to be underpaid in comparison to a product engineer.

          That said, often times those people that I've met that fit the aforementioned criteria, they have an innate desire to help people. I think it's because they are seeking validation in their own skills.

          Impostor syndrome is real, maybe there's an angle there you can play up with people.

          Not sure about reaching out on UpWork, not really a site for networking like that, unless you wanted to post a "job" to be an expert for your site on a short term contract, perhaps paid per "session". Could do a milestone based thing where people are on contract, once they do a session, you unlock the payment, and give them another milestone.

          I do know there are some Slack teams out there for freelancers that you may want to hit up and see if anybody is interested in being an expert.

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