Building Audiences - DIY Version

All Things Venture #003

Hey Everyone - Welcome to All Things Venture. This week in the newsletter, I want to talk about building audiences. Sounds kind of fancy right? Seems like the type of thing your DRAMA 201 Professor would say. Anyways, building audiences, whether you recognize it or not is an integral part of any startup, particularly for a consumer startup.

Let’s break this down a little bit. Why is building an audience important for a start up? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s important because startups need cash. You know, that cheddar. The cash acquired by startups is used in all manners of ways. It goes toward paying rent for the office, employee salaries, marketing costs. It can go toward paying for a consumer insights survey, or purchasing a subscription to a collaboration software like Slack. Whatever the end use case for the cash, in most cases, the cash always starts with the consumer, and today’s consumer will always have a litany of options. Scrolling through Instagram and you’ve happened to Google running shoes recently? Boom New Balance, Nike, Adidas, some random brand you’ve never heard of all up in your feed sandwiched between a repost of you and the boys and your ex that you keep forgetting to unfollow. The reach that the internet and social media provide means that brands of all shapes and sizes have unparalleled access to their target consumer. They know who you are, where you are, and whether or not you have a preference for Cacio Pepe or Carbonara. On one hand it’s incredibly convenient, on the other it’s incredibly invasive. This is where building audiences comes in.

If everyone, and I mean everyone, can go on to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, Tik Tok, Snapchat or whatever their ad spend platform of choice is and microtarget the living shit out of individual consumers, then on it’s own it won’t be an effective long term strategy for acquiring users. What is an effective long term strategy, and what whole businesses can be built off of (i.e the aforementioned digital platforms), is building an audience. Let’s say you’re a consumer products startup that makes and sells basketballs. You probably think your core competency is, frankly, making and selling basketballs. And it probably is. But that would be doing yourself a disservice. What could really augment your business is drawing your audience (i.e hoopers IYKYK) in. Instead of taking glossy photos of your balls and launching them into the black hole that is digital advertising here are some things you could do instead:

  • Create a Youtube Channel that pits a highly skilled player against random strangers for $$$ using your ball

  • Create and distribute different workout guides to help players of different skill levels improve

  • Sponsor AAU tournaments and provide your balls for usage for all teams

  • Start an instagram page that features highlights from past, present, and up and coming players

The point is, no matter the type of business, there are better ways to spend your marketing dollars than on the incumbent digital platforms. Thinking creatively in how you do so, can lead to tangible growth and profitability in your business.

That’s all for this week. Let me know your thoughts! If you run or know of a startup that would like to be featured in our newsletter, feel free to drop us a note.