One of my favorite movies of all time is Field of Dreams. It’s a touching tribute to the relationship between a dad and his son through the lens of baseball. Without giving away too much, a young Kevin Costner hears a voice telling him to turn his Iowa cornfield into a baseball field.
When he does, ghosts from baseball past show up to play. Eventually, one of the long-dead players that comes to play is Kevin’s dad and, putting their broken relationship aside, they play catch.
<I’m not crying, you are.>
What the film gave us is one of the most iconic movie lines of all time – “If you build it, he will come.”
So, how does that relate to you and me?
While it’s a great line, the actual lesson in the message doesn’t work when it comes to marketing.
If you build (and launch) your product, the audience will most assuredly not magically come.
Instead, the reverse is true – if you build your target audience first, your product will sell. And I mean really sell. I’ve seen this happen over and over again as we help brands build out their target audience.
The reason why I say this is because once you have a solid group of people who think like you, and are interested in buying like you, you’ll be able to create value for them by building your product. That’s just basic math. The more people you reach, the more money you make.
So, if you’ve got a great course in mind, spend the next couple of months and just focus on building an audience.
Here are 4 reasons why…
1. Building an Audience First Helps You Determine The Product Need
Here’s a scenario that I’ve seen one too many times: A business owner spent tons of money and time developing a product. They had a hunch this product would sell out quickly because they figured it would help the masses. They were so focused on the details of the product, building the website, and lining up distributors.
On launch day they only sold 1 unit (to their mom).
Looking back over the wreckage what they found is that they forgot the most important aspect – the audience.
If you really want to sell your product, spend several months (at least) nurturing your target customer. A few quick things you can do is:
- Use social media to poll your audience on various questions
- Conduct focus groups
- Do a small-group beta test
- Engage in real conversations with the people you believe will buy your product
Let the audience tell you what they want and need. Let them tell you what features they’re looking for in a product. Let them give you the marketing material to sell your product.
2. It Allows You to do Market Research
Once you determine there’s a need for your product, you can utilize your target audience for market research.
One thing I tell every single client who either has an audience or is building one – poll them CONSTANTLY. Ask your audience specific questions to help you get a better understanding of how to market to them.
When you create this kind of feedback loop it makes people feel closer to you and the product. It creates a sense of transparency that people love.
So, how can you conduct market research in a cost-effective way? Here are a few ways…
- Poll your audience on social media
- Utilize surveys via email campaigns
- Ask open-ended questions on social media to solicit comments
- Create a contest to generate hype (and feedback)
Once you’ve done all this – take the responses you were given and created hyper-focused content that you now KNOW they will most definitely respond to.
3. Building an Audience Helps you Determine What You Can Charge
Now that you have a good idea of what your audience wants, you can price your product accordingly.
Think about this for a moment, if you build an audience before launching your product, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what you can charge.
There are two major factors that impact price:
- Product Value: The value of your product to someone who needs it. In other words, how much does it cost them?
- Market Demand: How many people want your product. But like I said in Step 1, if you cultivate an audience first, you should already know the demand.
If we take online education as an example, I’ve seen courses priced from $10 – $400. But there’s a huge difference between those two prices. I’ve seen courses NOT sell at all at $10 and I’ve seen some fly off the shelves at $400.
In my opinion, the reason why people charge more or less than they should is because they don’t know what their audience wants, needs, and what it’s worth to them.
Like you heard me say above, and this probably feels like a broken record, but, if you really want to sell your product, spend a few months (at least) cultivating your target customer.
Let them tell you what they want. Let them tell you why they did or did not purchase products similar to yours. Let them tell you how much they would pay for something like this. This process allows you to learn exactly what they want, which helps you figure out the exact price your product needs to be in order to sell like crazy.
One quick story about this – we have a client who was building a monthly subscription service. She was really struggling with pricing. Her friends were saying she should be charging upwards of $50/month and we were suggesting around $10. That’s a HUGE difference.
So, first, we did market research and found out that similar products with more features than she was offering were charging closer to $20, so we knew we couldn’t go higher than that. Secondly, we had her poll the audience and most people came in around $15. We landed on $10 because we wanted it to be like Netflix (something you purchase and use or something you purchase and forget but keep paying).
So, it started with friends suggesting super high prices, but when research and polling took place, we discovered those high prices were way out of line with what people were actually willing to pay.
4. Building an Audience Helps with Brand Longevity
If you’re building an audience first, you’re creating a brand identity and giving yourself time to grow.
Building an audience, rather than just pitching your product to everyone who will listen, means that once your product is ready for launch, people are already buying into the idea of your brand.
Building a brand gives you a foundation on which to build your business. It gives you more time for growth as well as the opportunity to make changes as needed, as long as those changes are communicated to your audience.
You can spend months or even years building an audience before actually beginning work on the product. It’s that important, and it’s something that many brands overlook.
Another aspect is that it may save you valuable time. A year or so ago I started an adoption blog with the vision of creating a course. After a few months of blogging, I was burnt out and realized I didn’t really want to do this. Had I launched a product first, I would have wasted valuable time and money building something I wasn’t passionate about long-term.
Another iconic line from Field of Dreams has one of the ghost ballplayers ask Kevin Costner, “Is this Heaven?” to which Kevin replies, “No. It’s Iowa.”
If you build the audience first, gather the necessary data, and use it to create and launch your product, you’ll find YOURSELF asking the question, “Is this Heaven?” come product launch day!
So, do yourself a favor, and spend time building and nurturing an audience first.