How to build an audience without product (while developing your MVP)
So you're building an MVP - great! Here's to how to build your audience, so you can launch it with thousands of ideal customers in your network.
So you're building an MVP.
That can last for a month, two months, six months, or a year.
So, what should you do in the meantime?
Does it make sense just to focus on the product?
Well, not exactly.
From day one, when you start working on your new SaaS idea, you shouldn't waste a minute when it comes to building your audience.
Because six months down the road, what do you think is a better scenario?
Launching your MVP without an audience?
Or, launching your MVP with, let's say, 2000 people inside the newsletter who might be your customers.
By building an audience at the same time as making your MVP, you're able to:
- Collect a lot of qualitative data on your content and product
- Get feedback on the product itself and iterate as fast as possible
- Better engage with your dream customers so when the time comes, and you officially launch your product, you'll already have a couple of thousand dollars in your monthly revenue (or even more).
And please don't tell me: "But Ugi, I'm a technical solo founder. That's not my expertise."
The worst thing you can hear in your startup journey is: "Build it, and they will come."
They won't come.
You need to do marketing.
And even if you're a solo technical founder, you will need to do the marketing yourself.
Because without it, you'll just waste time building products no one will use.
Now that you understand the importance of this, let me show you how to build your audience.
1. Infiltrate communities
This is the first and foremost. Identify the 10-15 best communities where your target audience hangs out.
That can be Slack, Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn groups, and more.
But keep an eye on the quality of the groups.
For example, if you're selling to SaaS founders, you'll find dozens of SaaS communities on Facebook with over 20k members.
But the truth is, many of them are shit.
They're all spammy.
You want to be in active, quality communities.
It's better they have five posts a day but high-quality posts than to have 150+ spammy posts a day.
2. Interview dream customers
Create a list of 100 dream customers you would like to have.
Connect with them on LinkedIn. Follow them. Engage with their content.
It's not scalable, I know, but it helps you build a relationship with them.
Send a message or email to them once you warmed them up a little bit (let's say you're engaging with them for about a week or two weeks).
Ask them to hop on a quick 10-15 minute chat where you'll ask them a couple of questions.
The idea is to do your ICP research and find out their everyday problems, things that keep them up at night, and desired solutions.
Ideally, once you're ready to launch your MVP, they should be one of your first beta testers and paying customers.
So it's essential to keep a great relationship with them.
That's why I recommend people to ask their interviewees for their permission to regularly update them on email with the progress of their MVP.
Whoa! Now you already have 20-50 high-quality leads inside your newsletter.
Send them an email twice a month or once a month with new updates regarding your product.
Oh, I almost forgot, some crucial questions you need to ask them (and you'll why later) are:
- What kind of content do you like to consume? Video, podcasts, or text?
- Who do you like to follow? What newsletter are you reading? What podcasts are you listening to?
- Where do you hang out on the web? What communities are you visiting?
3. Follow the thought leaders and engage with their content
This is a simple thing, yet not many founders do it.
Follow the thought leaders with great traction and audience.
Turn on post notifications.
Find out some "standard" schedules they're using to publish their post.
Show up on their profile 1 minute before or immediately after they post.
The idea for you is to be the first to write very thoughtful and valuable content on their post.
If there's nothing valuable, you can add - comment nothing.
Why we're doing this?
People will slowly start perceiving you as a thought leader by actively sharing additional value on influencers' posts.
Your traction will go up.
Your following will go up.
Your influence will go up.
And most importantly, your audience will go up.
4. Create content for your audience
The idea is to "own" your audience so you can later "notify" them about launching your product.
And the best way to actually "own" them is by having their emails.
That's why you need to create your content and point them toward a newsletter.
Don't get me wrong, podcasts, YouTube, and social will also work.
If you have an audience there - great! You'll still see some success after launching your product.
But if you can find a way to actually "own" their emails, that would be a win-win.
Anyway, let's get back to content creation.
You want to engage with your audience by creating the content they care about.
So launch a podcast. Launch a newsletter.
Write on social. Write on LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Interview industry experts.
You can share your content through a newsletter, podcast, or YouTube.
What kind of content to create?
Well, you did an ICP at the beginning, right?
That's why asking people "What are their problems and what kind of content they like to consume" matters.
Take insights from there and just start.
Once you start your show or newsletter and start getting traction - start collecting qualitative data.
Ask your audience what they would like to hear next.
And last - don't worry if you don't consider yourself an "expert" in your field.
You can still create great content for them.
In this case, take the "journalist" approach. Collect golden nuggets and insights from other industry experts and share them with your audience.
Simple as that.
The bottom line
These are the four steps you need to take to successfully build an audience of a couple of thousands of people and successfully launch your product.
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