Find leads with no audience or ads (part 1) | STFO ๐Ÿค˜

Published about 2 months agoย โ€ขย 5 min read

"Is it possible to get good-quality leads without an audience, without spending money on ads, without posting reels on Instagram three times a day, and without sounding like a Jehovah's Witness desperate to convert their first non-believer?"


Here's how: borrow someone elseโ€™s audience. This means tapping into groups, influencers, and spaces where your future customers already hang out.

I've been asked about this so much, I decided to lay it all out in a simple, no-nonsense guide. First, this might change as I'm writing it, but there are five steps to it:

We first need to find where your ideal customers hang out, then we infer who they pay attention to, then we develop angles that those "influencers" would notice, then we approach them with empathy, and finally, we build a promotion system so we don't give up after three days (I see you).

Setting the stage

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, there are some non-negotiables:

  • Do not wait to do this until you're desperate with no cashflow left. It's like going food shopping when you're starving: you'll end up buying shitty instant noodles that are bad for you (instead of healthy veggies and tofu).
  • Embrace the chaos. This process is messy and always will be, just like relationships in real life. Young Louis would have tried to build a pretty Notion dashboard to prepare for this. Old Louis knows it doesn't work this way.
  • You won't get leads immediately after reading this email. This shit takes time, and it's meant to be hard โ€” or else everyone else would do it. Please don't believe the Norberts of this world and their hacks.

Okay, let's dive in.

Step 1: Locate your people

The goal of this step is to figure out exactly where your segment spends time when they're in the zone for your products/services.

Those places could be:

  • Press
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Websites
  • Podcasts
  • Email lists
  • Events
  • Social media
  • YouTube

I'm sure you can think of others, but this should be enough to get started.

You've got to know who you want to attract

Your ICP/persona/niche/segment or whatever you want to call it. I won't cover this in-depth here but you can read more about this step here and here.

Let's say I'm working with the owner of a luxury boutique agency that organizes prestigious events in the hard luxury sector (watches and jewelry, essentially). They're based in NYC.

Their segment? Folks who work for companies in the hard luxury sector, who are involved in organizing such events. Say, brand managers, senior events managers, marketing directors.

Start asking

The first thing I'd do is ask the owner to tell me where his segment spends their time when they're working.

I'd ask for specific, precise places instead of generic answers like "Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram." This is just unactionable and useless. Instead, I'd be looking for answers like:

  • Most of them are using Bizzabo, an event software for B2B conferences.
  • They all follow Monroe Steel, a NYC-based fashion blogger.
  • And then they all listen to Everyone Hates Marketers (duh).

Next, I'd like to hear directly from his segment. I would tell the owner to make a list of the people he knows in the industry (in particular loyal clients and friends) and ask them about where they spend most of their time online, who they follow specifically, which events they went to recently, whether they're listening to podcasts, etc.

I did this exercise a couple of years ago when sending a survey to email subscribers:


Warning: Beware of this step because people will 1) lie (consciously or not) to portray themselves as extremely smart, well-rounded individuals who don't go on Facebook anymore and 2) forget stuff.

Look at triggers

What needs to happen for hard luxury marketers to start the process of organizing an event? This is helpful in inferring specific channels they might spend time on. I find it very helpful to break down each trigger into its basic components to really visualize what was happening at that very moment.

Let's imagine that the main trigger for my client's segment is when they learn that a new product is in the works:

  • Why: prepare the launch
  • When: when their boss shares plans for a new product.
  • Where: at the office or over email
  • With Whom: colleagues
  • With What: with their computer and phone

This might sound obvious to you, but I'd imagine they'd start looking for inspiration to make this their best event yet, probably on Instagram and Pinterest. They might also need a refresher about the best way to prep such an event, so they might be googling things like "how to organize a prestigious launch event." They might start asking their close friends in their industry. And they're probably already looking at potential venues.

This makes me think that "inspiration" accounts on socials could be interesting, as well as specific keywords around this trigger, and venue finder websites to find some hidden gems. There's definitely more, but it's good enough to continue.

Get more granular

Finally, I'd complement this initial work with the audience research tool SparkToro to get more granular. There are a few different ways to find more specific channels.

We can start with the segment's job titles and find the websites, social accounts, YT channels... they tend to visit. In this example, I want to learn more about folks with the words "events manager luxury" in their bio:

Notice the keywords? Most of them relate to finding meeting/event venues. The websites are also interesting since some are event software tools like Cvent.

I also noticed something I hadn't thought about. Many websites relate to traveling, like, "the leading news source for travel executives." It makes total sense: those events managers would likely need to travel more than the average person. It's their job, after all.

And then, we have the fashion and celebrity angle with sites like WWD or Refinery29. Again, this makes total sense.

We can also explore the audience who tends to visit specific websites we've learned about in the steps before. For example, folks who visit the website of Bizzabo's event planning tool.

I could go on and on, but I think you now have an idea of how I like to approach this first step. I don't like to be restricted to extremely specific places that only senior events managers who work in hard luxury in NYC would pay attention to. Humans are multi-faceted individuals.

Organize your list

At the end of this step, I'd look at all the places I've listed and try to spot the ones where my client's segment is most likely to be found. In other words, where's the bullseye?

I'd look for criteria like location (in NYC/for New Yorkers), occupation (specifically for senior events managers), sector (working in hard luxury), and topic (such as organizing prestigious launch events) to prioritize the most interesting ones.

For example, a private FB Group for NYC-based senior events managers in the luxury sector would be right in the bullseye. But, from experience, this rarely happens โ€” and it's not enough to get good quality leads.

Realistically, you will end up with a messy list that does not have an ultra-sophisticated priority system. And that's perfectly fine!

Ok, that's it for this step. See you tomorrow (or Monday) for Step 2: Find who your people pay attention to.

Already a subscriber?



Bonjour bonjour! Join 13,000+ marketing weirdos who learn to stand the f*ck out in 2 min a day. Get ONE super-practical tip Monday to Friday. ๐Ÿค˜

Share this page