Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Seek Out Your Audience!

“If you build it, they will come!”

“Build a better mousetrap and the world will pound a path to your door.”

These are interesting quotes, long a part of our culture. They speak of a time when it might have been true that the simple act of creating would bring interest. But this is no longer a part of business on the Internet. It has simply gotten too vast.

Let’s try a quick experiment.

Open up a new browser window. Go to google.com. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Hmmm…mmm…mmmm, doo-dee-doo…


OK, now do a search for the word “the”. Why “the”? Well, it’s one of the most common words in the English language. This time that I did this search, it came back with 3, 420,000,000. Let me write that in words, so you get the impact: Three BILLION, four hundred twenty MILLION web pages currently contain the word “the”. That’s a reasonable estimate of the size of the English-speaking web. The current population of the world is estimated at about six and a half billion.

Now here’s another sobering thought: Every one of those three billion websites is clamoring for attention. Every one of them wants people to look at it.

What that means is that your website, on its own, is going to get swallowed up like a grain of sand on a 3.5 billion grain beach.


And this is the important part: Unless you tell people about it. And the important part is to tell the right people about it. There’s a lot to be said for the notion of broad mass advertising. It can work, and it can work very well, if you’ve got the budget for it (in either money or time). But a more efficient way is to target to your audience. And the best way to do that is to go to them. Don’t expect them to seek you out, rather you have to proactively, aggressively seek them out.

Here’s some steps:

1. Focus your site

A site with a vague and general purpose, with a broad and scattered product line, will be much more difficult to market this way. Pick a theme, a thread that brings some continuity to the site. Choose products that appeal to a similar audience.

2. Define your audience

Who is interested in my products? Write a list of the various demographics that your chosen product lines appeal to. Get specific. Women? That’s a start… Young women? Better… Young mothers between 23 and 30? Now we’re getting somewhere!

3. Figure out where they are

A long time ago, I was on a camping trip with my extended family, and I went fishing. I don’t really know anything about fishing, but I thought it would be fun. So I got a pole and went down to a stream nearby. I put some of that neon-colored bait on the hook, and threw it out.

I stood there, watching it for a while. I looked at the gorgeous trees arching over the stream. I smelled the rich fresh air. I felt the cold water on my toes. I looked at the colors of the rocks in the shallow streambed.

Pretty soon, as I was taking in the scenery, I noticed that I wasn’t getting any nibbles. I looked at the rocks. I looked between the rocks. I looked over the rocks.

There were no fish in that stream.

No matter how pleasant the scene, or how restful the day. I wasn’t going to catch any fish, because I wasn’t where the fish were.

Once your audience is defined then you can ask yourself where on the ‘net they are. Where’s the ponds and streams they’re swimming in? Do they frequent certain websites? Are there forums they participate in? Chat rooms? Don’t search for your products, search for your audience!

4. Go bring them in.

Once you’ve identified where they are, then you can start to promote there. Begin posting in the forums. Set up links with their favorite websites, or place ads there. Look for their eZines, their blogs, their information, and become a part of that. When you become visible in that world, then they will come.

And they’ll buy your mousetrap. It IS a better one, after all…

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