Here’s a tasty tale of market research from my mentor Gary Halbert that will see your business never go hungry…..
“I’m always aware of who my core audiences are and I serve that niche.”
— Edward Burns, actor, film producer, and director
Halbert was running a direct marketing course and asked his students the following question:
“If you and I both owned a hamburger stand and we were in a contest to see who could sell the most hamburgers, what advantages would you most like to have on your side to help you win?”
The students gave a range of answers. Some said they wanted better quality meat. Others wanted sesame seed buns. Some said they wanted the best location while others wanted the lowest prices.
After the students had listed their advantages, Halbert said he would happily give them all those advantages if he could have just one. With that advantage, he would wipe the floor with them.
What advantage did he want?
A starving crowd
It can’t be stressed enough: Before you start marketing your product, look for the starving crowds. They are crucial to your online success.
After all, there’s no point making dinner if nobody’s hungry.
So, how do you find a starving crowd?
The Quickest Ways To Find A “Starving Crowd” And The Best Markets To Enter
Assuming you’re offering a service that people are hungry for, there’ll be a starving crowd out there for you somewhere.
But how do you lead these crowds to come feast at your business banquet?
When I first began learning how to identify starving crowds, I needed to find a test business to apply what I’d learnt. One call to my father later and I’d found my guinea pig! I’d have full control over his business’ website, could change the copy to suit, and would do whatever it took to make the site convert—hopefully, I’d remain on his Christmas card list.
My dad’s business buys and sells excess stock—what better example of serving a starving crowd—and my first step was to put myself in the shoes of his potential customers.
I identified all the problems someone may face when he has excess stock he can’t sell. I then wrote down all the questions someone looking to sell excess stock might want to ask my dad’s business, including:
• How low do I need to go on price? (This really means: I’m afraid of losing too much money)
• How quickly will the stock sell? (This really means: I’m sick of seeing my warehouse full of old stock!)
• How discrete will the process be? (This really means: I don’t want anyone to know about this; it’s kind of embarrassing)
The list went on and on. When you sit and think about it, your potential customers have many unanswered questions that might lead them to your business.
The next stage was to create a list of phrases that potential customers would type into a search engine if they were looking to sell excess stock. I came up with a list of 127. I put the phrases into the Google keyword tool and identified twenty that had the highest volume and the lowest competition. I then checked out Google Trends to make sure there was still solid demand. And as you can see from the image below, there is consistent demand over a long period of time.
You can see that the demand for this search term has been quite consistent over many years, so it’s a good market to go after.
With these twenty keywords, I performed some basic search engine optimisation for the site. It was soon ranking highly for these key search terms. Along with a homepage refresh (my brother built this for no charge—it’s great having a web developer in the family) and a two-minute animated video (a few hundred dollars on oDesk), this process has generated over 1,000 solid leads into the business—a great result. In fact, there were so many leads at one stage that my poor dad started working early and finishing late just to keep up with demand!
And the best thing about it? We didn’t spend a cent on advertising! This means that the starving crowds are out there, but you’re going to have to understand what they’re hungry for. So remember, if you don’t send out the invitations, they’re not going to come to dinner.
Advanced market research strategies to find your starving crowd
People buy things for many reasons, and a lot of the time they “can’t tell,” “won’t tell,” or “don’t tell” you these reasons. As a marketer, if you can uncover these reasons and use them in your marketing copy, you’re well on the way to feeding your starving crowd.
My friend Alexi Neocleous, a legendary copywriter, taught me a lot about getting to the bottom of pain points to find the starving crowd. There’s some fascinating stories about how to uncover these in Chapter 4 of my book Feed A Starving Crowd (which is a free download for all readers at feedastarvingcrowd.com)
A “ninja” way to find a starving crowd is to look at relevant forums and find what people are complaining about. Look at Amazon book reviews. The reviews for the book give valuable clues for what people were looking for when buying the book.
Let me share the story of how I found a big pain point in Amazon. I was recently reading up on self-publishing and I came across a book called APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki.
Before buying the book, I was reading the reviews. (Don’t we all?) One of the reviews was very detailed and gave the book only three stars. The reviewer was critical that the book didn’t provide much help for unknown first-time authors.
A side note: In my opinion, three-star ratings are the best to use for market research. Anyone who gives a one-star or a five-star rating is biased. Three-stars seems to be the sweet spot where the reviewer has considered the book, enjoyed some parts of it, but has constructive criticism.
Back to the reviewer’s comments. An “aha moment” came to me that help for unknown authors is a huge concern and pain point for anyone who is wanting to write a book from scratch and self-publish it. Authors want to learn how to sell the first 100 copies or so of their books. They’ve got no marketing budget, but they’ve got plenty of time, and they’re not scared to do menial tasks to get their books out there. And they’re passionate about their books—each one thinks his or her book is the best thing anyone has ever written. Fair enough; it probably is. Selling information products to bootstrapping authors is definitely feeding a starving crowd.
Guerrilla market research methods to identify the shortcomings in your competitors’ products
When online marketer Eben Pagan was single and looking for tips on how to meet “Miss Right,” all of the books out there were teaching you what to do once you were already in a relationship. Eben’s problem at the time was that he couldn’t get a relationship happening in the first place! It’s no good reading about how to have a better relationship if you don’t have one, right? There was nothing out there that taught you how to get a date. That’s why he wrote the book “Double your dating” and started his $100 million information marketing empire.
Dr. Libby (women’s health expert) looked at all of the cookbooks on the bookshelves and found that there was a huge gap in the market for healthy recipes that were easy to prepare and tasted great! So she wrote Dr. Libby’s Real Food Chef, which is about healthy food that tastes delicious. This book became a #1 bestseller for over twelve months straight, and there is now a Real Food Chef book series in production.
Very quick ways to find starving crowds using market research
A very quick way to find a starving crowd is to look at the Clickbank products for books in your niche. Clickbank is the world’s largest marketplace of information products. When you look through the products in your niche, look for the ones with the highest gravity score—this is how many affiliates are promoting the product. The higher the gravity score, the more people who are promoting the book because it’s a profitable adventure and the crowd is starving. Great market research! My friend Andre Chaperon has done many, many sales on Clickbank, and his recommendation is to go for a gravity score greater than thirty.
Ewa Wysocka from Mindvalley goes to relevant Facebook groups and looks at comments and then looks at the profiles of people who commented to see how old they are, what they look like, do they have any kids, and what are their hobbies. From this data, she looks for commonalities across the board. She then puts all of the commonalities into a “customer avatar,” or ideal client. This is the avatar Ewa used in Mindvalley’s million dollar “unlimited abundance” launch:
- Men and women
- Mostly professionals with small private practices or small business owners
- Interested in personal growth and actively following blogs/newsletters on topics of meditation and energy healing
- Had some successes in their careers but right now are not satisfied with their current income
- Looking right now for a change or shift in their professional careers (Mindvalley launches this program always in the beginning of the year when people are in particular looking for a change)
- Receptive to new personal growth concepts
Before Dr. Libby creates a new product, she asks her existing customers what they would like to learn next. For one of her recent books, Beauty from the Inside Out, Dr. Libby posted a Facebook message asking the fans what they would like to see in the book, and she got flooded with replies. Most interestingly, the most common requested topic was “How to remove dark circles under the eyes.” And for the product launch, I built a lot of the campaign advertising around this single message. The book was a runaway success.
Out of all the people I’ve worked with, Dr. Libby knows her customers the best by far. She knows her clients better than they know themselves! This knowledge comes from her fifteen years of experience in the field and offering private consultations for over six years where women would share their deepest thoughts with her. Knowing your starving crowd so well means you are very well-positioned to understand what products would serve it.
Here is an excerpt from a chapter in her book Rushing Woman’s Syndrome that shows just how well she knows her audience through market research.
A Rushing Woman:
- Is so exhausted, particularly in the afternoon, a time when she is also more likely to feel like she cannot cope with her life…sugar, caffeine, or alcohol feel like the only options at this time
- Laughs less than she used to
- Finds it difficult to relax without wine
- Has a mental fuzziness/haze/brain fog that she only notices is there when she has a random day when it is not
- Beats herself up for not being a good enough wife/mother/friend
- Is constantly looking for more ways to feel love or be praised, whether she can see this or not
- Feels anxious without her cell phone on her constantly…she can catch herself constantly pushing the refresh screen button thinking—“what if I miss an important text or phone call?” and takes her phone to the toilet for this reason
- Goes on holiday only to spend the majority of the time thinking she must unwind yet never actually resting… holidays simply become an extension of her usual life
- Tends to return from a break feeling even more exhausted than before she left
The power of market research and understanding your starving crowd is amazing. A while back, I ran a list-building seminar in our office, and I invited the Dr. Libby team to attend. In one of the sessions, we were talking about their marketing plans and Dr. Libby’s book Rushing Woman’s Syndrome was mentioned. Out of the blue, one random woman in the audience said, “That’s me!” Dr. Libby didn’t even have to say what was in the book, what readers would learn, or why they needed it—that lady in the audience was sold at the title. That’s why it’s so powerful to know what your customers want and then deliver it to them.
So to sum up, here are a couple of market research action steps:
- Write down twenty phrases that people might type into Google if they’re looking for your product. This is great market research
- Now go to your favourite keyword tool and find out which ten phrases have the highest volumes of searches—these are the keywords that will give you the starving crowds.
- Go right now to Amazon and search for the books relevant to your business and its niche. Out of the highest selling books, look at the three-star reviews. Find out what disappointed people in the book and write down the five most common complaints below. Here is your chance to serve your starving crowd.
I’m looking forward to hearing your success stories. These market research tips came from Chapter one of my latest book Feed A Starving Crowd: More than 200 Hot and Fresh Marketing Strategies to Help you Find Hungry Customers. You can get a free copy of this book from www.feedastarvingcrowd.com