Trends #0067 โ€” Audience-First Products

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(๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) indicates exclusive Trends Pro insights

๐Ÿ” Problem

You need to understand and reach customers.

๐Ÿ’ก Solution

Build trust before you build products.

๐Ÿ Players

UserlistSaaSJane Portman & Benedikt Deicke
Bite-Size PythonBookApril Speight
Earnest CapitalFundTyler Tringas
The Tim Ferriss ShowPodcastTim Ferriss
Power-Up PodcastingCoursePat Flynn
Chicken + BeerRestaurantLudacris
Virginia BlackLiquorDrake
Roc Nation SportsAgencyJay-Z
Ministry of TestingCommunityRosie Sherry
(๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro โ†“)
DriftSaaSDavid Cancel
RightMessageSaaSBrennan Dunn
PaperbellSaaSLaura Roeder
iloSaaSDan Rowden
YourStackAggregatorRyan Hoover
Transistor.fmSaaSJustin Jackson
SEO That WorksCourseBrian Dean
Empathy WinesE-CommerceGary Vaynerchuk
Refactoring UIBookAdam Wathan & Steve Schoger
Fathom AnalyticsSaaSPaul Jarvis
MicroConfConferenceRob Walling
SparkToroSaaSRand Fishkin
MAKE BookBookPieter Levels
RemoteOKJob BoardPieter Levels
Tech LadiesCommunity & Job BoardAllison Esposito Medina
Zero to SoldBookArvid Kahl
Build Once, Sell TwiceCourseJack Butcher
Forget The FunnelWorkshopClaire Suellentrop & Georgiana Laudi
Weekend ClubCommunityCharlie Ward
JungalowE-CommerceJustina Blakeney
Tailwind CSSFrameworkAdam Wathan
Kylie CosmeticsE-CommerceKylie Jenner
No-Code MVPCourseBram Kanstein

๐Ÿ”ฎ Predictions

โ˜๏ธ Opportunities

  • Choose your channel and build an audience. Use YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook. But don’t stop there. To reduce platform risk, use these as funnels. Not destinations.
  • Get feedback from your audience. Failory surveys subscribers to find pain points. Bram Kanstein used Twitter to get 135 pre-launch subscribers. Kalo Yankulov used a blog to get $4,000 in pre-sales. (Via Nico)
  • Leverage your audience to find investors, suppliers and employees. Ben Tossell uses Twitter to find customers and hire. Now he’s raising a fund.
  • Use an audience-first approach to find your dream job. Iheanyi (Github) and April (Microsoft) have audiences, optionality and side hustles. Social profiles are replacing resumes.
  • Use gamification to grow your audience. Pieter Levels gained more than 10,000 followers with a giveaway. See the Makerpad Challenge.
  • (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Take your audience between products. Dan Rowden helps Ghost users with Cove, Substation and Gloat.
  • (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Interview others and curate knowledge to build an audience. KP does this with Build in Public.
  • (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Monetize with services. Dan Runcie offers a free newsletter and consulting services.
  • (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Use your audience to go viral with referral programs.
  • (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Bring people together. Build an audience through community. This leads to user-generated content. And takes less effort than newsletters or podcasts.
  • (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Leverage your audience for social causes. LeBron James started the I Promise School. And partnered with JPMorgan Chase to fund college scholarships. (Via KP)

๐Ÿ”‘ Key Lessons

  • Audience-building is a forcing function to find and understand customers.
  • Your audience is your moat.
  • An audience gives you optionality. You can sell products, raise funds, hire employees, get jobs, endorsements, affiliates and more.
  • (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Personal and corporate brands have a natural advantage. They extend trust from one person or product into others. See serial founders like Pieter Levels and David Cancel. Or brands like Quip and Virgin.
  • (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Audience building leads to compound growth. Paid acquisition leads to compound costs. See Casper in Subscription DTC.

๐Ÿ˜  Haters

“This isn’t new.”
Common knowledge isn’t common practice.

“You mention agencies, restaurants and conferences. These are not products.”
๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ Use your imagination.

“If I build it, they will come.”
Tell that to Stephen King. Who wrote under a pen name in relative obscurity. Until his identity was revealed. Audience outweighs product.

This doesn’t always work.”
Indeed. There are broke celebrities. Blame execution not efficacy.

“What if I build the wrong audience?”
Start with the end in mind. Who do you want to help? Who do you enjoy spending time with? Educate or entertain them.

“Is paid acquisition useless?”
No. Use it for validation. And arbitrage opportunities. Not for survival. Unit economics change fast when you bid for attention.

Gamification only attracts those who want prizes. Not my product.”
Make your product the prize.

๐Ÿ”— Links

  1. On Linear Commerce โ€ข Media and commerce are merging.
  2. 12 Startups in 12 Months โ€ข Pieter Levels built an audience by building in public.
  3. My Journey From Quitting My Job to Building 7 Apps and $1,000+ MRR โ€ข Andrey Azimov followed in Pieter’s footsteps.
  4. (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Master P on Entrepreneurship โ€ข Master P transfers trust from music to movies, shoes, chips, pancakes, syrup and more.
  5. (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) $1m Annual Run Rate โ€ข Pieter Levels hit a $1m run rate with $0 in ad spend.
  6. (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Should you build an audience first? โ€ข The upsides of an audience-first approach and things to watch out for.
  7. (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) Building An Audience โ€ข Practical tips on audience-building.
  8. (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) The โ€œAudience First Strategyโ€ โ€ข Audience-first examples from Bryan Moran, Joe Pulizzi, Bryan Harris and more.
  9. (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) How to Build a Large Audience From Scratch โ€ข Tim Ferriss shares tactical advice on building an audience from scratch.
  10. (๐Ÿ“ˆ Pro) 1,000 True Fans โ€ข Kevin Kelly on why you should specialize and build a direct relationship with your audience.