Do you recall back in Entrepreneur 101 when you were asked to define your target market? On the business plan template you used, when asked who would buy your products and services, you wanted to answer "everyone". You're not alone! Most business owners starting out would like to believe the entire population of the planet wants what they are selling as much as it wants oxygen. As an Internet marketer, I'm all for you taking the planet by storm, but you have to start somewhere! The question is: how do you find groups of people online that are potential customers?
Where to Find Your Customers on the Internet
Online Forums. Forums are a popular way for people with similar interests to have discussions of various topics of interest. For example, if you sell specialty items for pets, join several forums for pet owners. Look for threads where people are asking questions and offer your solutions. Be thoughtful and detailed - people appreciate this. Most forums don't allow you to blatantly advertise, but you are permitted to include a link to your website in your signature line.
Online Magazines. All major magazine publications have online versions. Many of these have interactive sections where you can leave comments. Say you manufacture a really cook kitchen gadget. There are numerous kitchen, food and home making magazines on the Internet. Look for articles that allow you to leave comments with a link to your website. People reading the magazine may be interested in your gadget.
Social Networking Groups. Use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twellow to find groups with similar interests and join them. People in the groups may not appreciate hearing a direct marketing pitch from you, but their interest will be piqued if you are seen to contribute valuable information regularly. You'll need to give away a substantial number of helpful tips to establish yourself as a credible resource.
Expert Profiles. There are several online venues that offer space to post a profile and articles for people in specialized fields. Some of the "free" ones are SelfGrowth, CareTo, Yahoo! Voices, How To and Hubspot. As large online networks, these website have credibility in the search engines and show up better than small websites when people search for your topic.
Ask the Experts. Undoubtedly you pay attention to what the top experts in your industry are doing. You can be a little "gutsy" by sending them a polite email and asking for help. Tell them how much you admire their work and how much you value their leadership. Ask them what networks they find most effective to reach their audience. In my experience, industry "gurus" are happy to share their knowledge.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.More from this contributor:
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