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Find leads with no audience or ads (part 2) | STFO 🤘

Published about 1 month ago • 4 min read

This is Part 2 of my simple, no-nonsense guide to finding customers when you have no audience, no money to spend on ads, and no social media presence.

In the last installment, we talked about locating the places where your ideal customers spend their time when they're in the zone for your products or services. You should now have a rough list of channels - websites, podcasts, events, social media accounts, and more.

Step 2: Find who they pay attention to

Now it's time for step two: finding out exactly who your people are paying attention to in those spaces.

This might seem like a very similar step, but trust me, it's not quite the same. Think about it this way—there are way more individuals creating content and building influence than there are channels or platforms. And the angle you take might vary depending on the specific people you identify.

So dehumanizing

I like to think of this whole process of borrowing audiences as a deeply human endeavor. It's all about people and connecting with people. This brings me to an important point—I find spreadsheets incredibly dehumanizing when it comes to this stuff.

It's so easy nowadays to export a list of 100, 500, or thousands of names, dump them into a spreadsheet, and say, "Let's blast all these folks with cold emails ASAP!" But that approach turns unique individuals who are just like you and me into mere lines on Excel/GSheets. In fact, I genuinely believe there's an inverse correlation between the size of your outreach list and the quality of the relationships you'll be able to build.

Start with one

So no, I'm not advocating for building some massive database here. You don't need a sprawling spreadsheet with 200 names. In fact, you can start with just one or two people.

The more time you spend prettying up your spreadsheet, crafting the perfect Notion template with all the bells and whistles, the less likely you are to actually take action and do anything meaningful with it. Keep it simple.

If you can find a couple of people who are an absolutely perfect fit, who you feel a real affinity and connection with, and who you think would genuinely care about what you're doing—that's plenty to start.

I'm sure you've heard of the concept of 1,000 true fans, yeah? The idea that to have a sustainable business, you really only need 1,000 people who absolutely love what you do. Well, I'd argue that for this part of the process, you only need one person. Not 1,000. Just one.

I know that probably sounds crazy, but stick with me. A single person can open up doors beyond what you can even imagine right now.

For example, when running my first marketing agency, I made friends with the CMO of an up-and-coming Dublin-based startup. I met him at an event (he wasn't part of any spreadsheet). We kept in touch. I invited him to speak at a small get-together at my local Chamber of Commerce, he then introduced me to my first "big" client and became a client himself a few months after.

Find the people behind the channels

Let's go back to the example from Part 1. Let's say you're trying to attract clients in the hard luxury space, and you've established that many of your ideal customers are using an event software tool called Bizzabo.

My first instinct would be to head over to LinkedIn and start poking around, looking for folks on their roles and what they're working on. Sure, you could go straight to the top and look at Bizzabo's co-founder or VP of Marketing. If you happen to have an "in" there or some real affinity with them, great. But it's often easier and less daunting to start with people a little lower on the totem pole who probably don't get hit up constantly as those big-shot execs do.

In this example, I noticed a woman named Rachel who's actually a contractor producing Bizzabo's podcast. Interesting angle, right? A potential way in. She doesn't have a massive following, only around 4,000 people (which is still a lot!), but I'd definitely add her to the list to explore further.

Starting your press office

I've borrowed this term from my friend Lucy Werner, a self-promo/PR expert who wrote the excellent book "Hype Yourself."

Going back to our luxury event agency. We saw that Refinery29.com kept popping up as a place where your ideal customers spend time. There's no magic shortcut or tool for this part. You've got to genuinely immerse yourself in the same stuff your people are consuming. If it's a publication they're spending a ton of time on, you better be doing the same.

Look at the most relevant articles and themes related to what you do. If we stick with the luxury event planning example, maybe the lifestyle section is a good bet. Most sites make it pretty easy to see who the authors are and what they tend to write about.

I'm not a "traditional" PR specialist, but Lucy Werner is; if you want to go one level deeper on finding journalists and the different functions they could have, check out Chapter 3 of her book.

Organize your list

At the end of this step, you should have a short list of people who you think would genuinely give a shit about what you're doing.

Remember the bullseye analogy from Part 1?

Prioritize folks you feel you'd get along well with. Also, think about the people you already know who could potentially introduce you to them. And then pay attention to the size of their audience... But please don't obsess over it.

A super-mini-nano "influencer" with "just" 607 followers on IG might have incredibly deep connections with the audience you seek to reach. Again, do not treat people like rows in a spreadsheet.

Ok, that's it for this step. See you soon for Step 3: Find a good angle.

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