Using Your Experiences to Find Your Audience Online
With 4.4 million people starting businesses every year, finding your community seems even more difficult for small businesses. Most Founders’ biggest fear is being ‘too spammy’ with sales and call-to-action lines. Being authentic and knowing what your unique community needs from you is the secret key that unlocks your door to a long-lasting and profitable business.
Does your audience want products? Memberships? Coaching?
Or something new…
Securing your place in an industry is almost as hard as figuring out what you have to offer your desired industry. To locate your niche, try this step-by-step activity to identify your community as a creative and soon-to-be entrepreneur.
This 5-Step Reflection Activity will focus your attention on your personal experiences to engage in authentic storytelling and establish a list of information or services you can discuss. Becoming an expert on your product or service is a must before you build your community.
I spent six years training as a therapist and educator before building McKissick Health & Wellness. Now, six and a half years into building the brand, I found slow and steady growth. Business is one of the few industries where ‘failing fast’ is favorable. Learning what works for your audience and being able to scale is the strategy you must uncover as a Founder. Reducing time spent doing trial-and-error tasks will keep you on track to find your flow as a company and become a success.
Revisiting your personal experiences can be an emotionally charged activity and uncomfortable. If you decide some experiences are too raw to address, stop the activity and contact your trusted support system or a mental health professional. Here are the five steps that will help you get one step closer:
Before we start, there are a few things you will need.
- Timer (optional)
- Sticky notes or paper
Spend 5 minutes meditating.
You did not come here for wellness tips, but take it.
Concentrate on your breathing. Inhale (for 6 seconds) and exhale (for 7). Yes, it is okay to set a timer or use an app. Allow yourself this moment to come back into your body. To follow this article and connect with your audience, you need to connect with yourself.
If focusing on your breath and counting feels overwhelming, stop counting. Focus on noticing your breathing. Is your inhale rapid and your exhale too short? Release the anxiousness you are feeling with every exhale. If your thoughts wander as you breathe, kindly remind yourself to let them go. Return to your breathing.
Getting your brain to zone in on ideas and experiences is a learned practice. The more you make time to think, the better your ideas become. This is a useful skill for creatives and business owners who oversee ideation.
For this step, you will need sticky notes and a pen. It might also help to set the mood. I like to grab a cup of coffee and turn on my Writing Mode Playlist on Spotify. You might do this in your living room or at your office desk. Anywhere you can find enough space to focus will work.
Set the timer for 25 minutes.
You will use the entire time writing every personal experience you can think of from birth to today. Don’t sensor yourself. Write the good, bad, ugly, and embarrassing moments as they come. Don’t worry, you can destroy the papers if you have written sensitive information.
Hopefully, you felt safe enough to write enough experiences.
Set the timer for 10 minutes.
Now that you have a rough sketch of experiences, on the other side of the sticky note, write any emotions you remember about the experiences. If you have difficulty identifying or naming emotions, try using the emotional wheel below while reading what you wrote on the sticky note and decide which emotion fits best.
Were you happy when it happened?
Was it a scary experience?
Did you laugh or cry?
Line up the sticky notes. Any order will do.
It might help to group them if you have a few with similar emotions like “brave” and “powerful.”
Then, write a brief customer profile for each experience or group created. A customer profile is a detailed description of the personality type, habits, and beliefs of a person likely to buy your product or service. This is a great tool you can use later for marketing. If considering what characteristics, environment, and behaviors of the person is too difficult, it might be easier to consider people you know who have had similar experiences. A great question is: “Who else would go through something like this?”
Reminder: Be careful when describing close friends and family. You are not doing a psychological analysis. Your goal is to focus on the buying habits that align with the experience you wrote about.
Here are a few examples:
- If you wrote about the birthing process and how you addressed any concerns, a first-time mom in her early 20s or 30s might share that experience and want to know more about your process.
- If you wrote about falling down gym bleachers in high school and everyone laughing at you so you became a comedian, an awkward teenager with two friends — one being their dog Brownie — living in the suburbs might have experienced something similar and want to know how to write great jokes.
That was a lot.
You relived some memories and exposed old and new emotions — some for the first time.
It’s time to reflect.
While looking at all the experiences you have collected, make any observations that look important. Which group of emotions aligns with the most experiences? Which experience is your favorite?
Look at your experiences and the people who connect with them. Are there any customer profiles that excite you? Is there one you strongly dislike? Did you list the same ‘type’ of person more than once? Over three times?
What do they need?
What can you say to them?
How can you serve them?
Your observations bring you closer to determining who your audience might be and the problem(s) they have that you can solve if there is one experience, profile, and emotion that attracts you most, GREAT! That is your audience.
Are there two? That is okay.
Take some time to discern what you like about both. It might even be helpful to do an empty chair scenario or elevator pitch where you pretend the client is in the room, and for 2 minutes, you tell them why you have the solution to their problem. If you feel more comfortable with one topic, that is your experience, and you are ready to meet your audience.
Your next step is to list products or services that provide a solution to the experience. Is there another way to address the experience if there is no solution? Build awareness? Create a support group.
If you try this activity, let me know which step you found most helpful.