Building your marketplace is hard, see how we tried: The audience

Do you know how much time it takes to launch a business? We spent something like a year to create an audience before launching our now two years old marketplace. Yes… Marketplaces are hard!

Your audience is your safeguard

If you want to perform in the long run you should definitely start building your audience before anything else. And it's still true when when you're growing your business!

Let's see “I know this great little place” example.

They started in 2010 with a Facebook page on which everybody could say “I know this great little place in London...” to share good addresses of places they could tell stories about. Restaurant, pub, little streets, places and so on. They invited friends who could invite other friends and so on. You know how Facebook works. This Facebook page was such a mine of information that people started asking for an app, a website and so on.

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They really thought about their audience. This page took them, what? 5 minutes to build? And they used it to validate the concept and look at how many people were interested in it (reactions, posts, page likes and follows…). They start building an audience and even more, building a community. Today they have more than 400 000 fans, they extended to 6 countries, count more than 50 000 email subscribers and have been funded.

"All companies have customers. Lucky companies have fans. But the most fortunate companies have audiences. An audience can be your secret weapon. " - Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

One year before launching our marketplace, we started a blog. It was our first step. We used our blog a lot to “evangelize” our market and build an audience. We choose to publish various articles mainly about collaborative consumption, putting an emphasis on some initiatives.

Soon, we learned that talking to everybody is talking to nobody at all.

Then we launched Sharinplace, our peer to peer renting platform. Our blog helped us gain notoriety and acquire an expertise on collaborative consumption. But we didn't used it well regarding business objectives. It's simple… we didn't used it to gain an audience. Sharing economy is a vast topic and not focusing on one objective, our audience was too broad.

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We choose to blog ! Yeah !!! Awesome !!! Actually not that easy...

It's a long-term endeavor and you will not immediately see the effects. We had good results but even with interested people you have to watch your editorial policy. Stay focus. Don't write just to publish something. Offer great value and unique content to your readers.

If people are truly interested they will listen to you. With a real audience you will have the right persons listening when launching your product.

Don't jump the gun ! Focus on the tiniest audience possible.

You want your business to be a success, right? Don't spend months coding your website but building your audience!

Let's talk about this urban legend you heard regarding your website, this myth about good products. I'm referring to “Build it and they will come.” Once for all, it's a complete fallacy! How many products/ideas became famous without any communication around them? We can probably count them on the fingers of one hand… and they became famous after many years.

But ! What's true is, if you build an audience, people will come to you.

Why? Because you will already created trust, confidence with this audience. No need to buy their attention with adds, you've already got it with great content.

Now the 100 Million dollar question is… Drum roll… How do we create an audience ?

Clearly, your audience cannot be "all millennials" or "young people living in urban area". You have to chose the tiniest audience possible to deliver a message that fit its needs.

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As you understood I'm not fond of reinventing the wheel. That's why rather than telling you how to build your audience, I'll refer to Dianna Labrien to help you Decode Your Target Audience in 5 Easy Steps. It's one way to choose it. Of course you could find others/betters.

  1. Create a solid audience profile
  2. Identify their biggest struggle, problem or need
  3. Find the best channels to speak through
  4. Identify the core benefit of your product that solves their problem
  5. Reach out to them through trusted mediums

Today you've got so many opportunities to reach people: your blog or vlog, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and many more. It depends on your target. An endless topic for sure but it's soooo important !

"When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your impact will all get better." - Seth Godin

Customer first should be your mantra

You need to validate your idea with your end users. Don't assume anything about your users but let them guide you. Ideas based on the founders perception doesn't work.

Talk with your audience. As said Seth Godin "Market with people, not at them".

An awesome, but unknown product is useless. If you start creating your marketplace or whatever you are doing you will spend a lot of time and/or money making the perfect product... FOR YOU. It will have a lot of features that nobody's gonna use.

"One of biggest mistakes most would-be entrepreneurs make is going into business based on what they think people should buy, rather than what people really want or actually do buy." - Brad Sugars

NO ! DON'T !

Always ask your customers what they want, what they need and how they use each of your product features. It's the best way to propose something useful. For them !


Previous from this series: Building your marketplace is hard, see how we tried: The idea