Audience Discovery comes down to defining 4 major areas. Let's figure out your market Opportunity.
In the previous blog post, I described the ways to define your affinity, test it and finally, search for communities you want to serve. We also went through some useful tools and platforms that you should use in your discovery journey. By now, you probably have a list of 5-7 communities and a file full of useful links to groups in Reddit, Facebook, accounts in Twitter, Instagram, Slack channels, etc. If you don't go through the exercise from the previous issue to make the most out of this one.
So, how do you decide if there's a business opportunity for you within this community? At this stage, you have to dig deeper!
1. Set a timer for at least 2 hours for each community
Go through all (!!!) the posts and write down problems or pains that are mentioned there. At this stage, you don't have to write down specific quotes, what words people use to describe their discomfort (though as soon as you single out the community to proceed with you'll have to do just that).
2. Assign simple and general tags for every pain
Use Excel to put down the number against each tag. For instance, if there's a UX designer complaining about Figma features, tag "Figma features". If you see a post from another one saying "I can't figure out how to use this feature in Figma" - tag it "Figma education", not "features" because the pain is not enough knowledge, not the technical issue.
3. Draw a chart
As soon as your 2 hours are over, create a simple chart (I like bars, but you can use whichever you feel more comfortable with) that will visualize the results of your research. Here's what I've got after 2 hours of research in subreddit on startups.
From this bar, I clearly see that there are 2 groups of founders: the ones who haven't launched their startup yet (aspiring entrepreneurs). And the ones who have. They obviously have different pains and attention focus. And I see what bothers each group most of all. There's a common denominator, though - cash. Everyone is bothered about where and how to get funds to support their startup. By the way, if you're bothered by it too, here's my article where I summarize all available resources for pre-revenue startups within the US and worldwide (not all of us are located in SF, after all 😁).
4. Research solutions
Take the top 5 most common and widely discussed problems/pains in the community and move to the next step. Search platforms for interesting and creative solutions for these problems:
Product Hunt - pay maximum attention to this platform if you're researching a professional community in the tech industry (engineers, developers, designers, marketers, DevOps, SEO specialists, etc.) 90% of products that are launched here are aimed at these communities. Do a simple search with the Search bar typing in your tags from Step 2 (ex. "raise easy" or "Figma education"). Add links to interesting products to your Swipe file (template is here).
Google - we shouldn't forget this obvious option, right? Don't focus on it too much. Google can give you a million hits or none - depends on the way site SEO is done. Spend less than an hour on Google search and add the links to interesting products in your file.
Udemy - this global platform contains thousands of courses on almost every subject. However, you should not expect to hit many promising results if the community you're researching is non-professional but rather circumstantial (like Moms of skinny kids, for example, or Robusta beans lovers). Also, if your community members are over the age that embraces online learning (for example, I wouldn't expect to find much on the subject "how to get read of annoying elderly caregiver" on Udemy). Of course, if your community has very low access to online resources (like children in rural Africa) there won't be much for them, too. But these groups are unsearchable online by default. Ah, don't forget to save the links that you have fished out.
Amazon - even if you're not going to build a plant and manufacture flying cars, it makes sense to give Amazon a shot. At the very least it will broaden your perspective and let you see more approaches to solving problems. Anyway, spend 20-30 minutes searching your tags = keywords on the Amazon website.
App Store/ Google Play — check out what applications available by the keyword search. Are they paid? Are they free with in-app purchases?
5. Assign opportunity score
Final step - assign opportunity score to every community on your list (remember, the first column was affinity, this one - opportunity). How to assign the scores? Arvid Kahl in his book Embedded Entrepreneur suggests assigning 5 to communities that have interesting problems, and 0 to those that don't have them. You definitely can use this approach. However, I prefer the one that is more data-driven ("interesting problem" is a bit foggy expression to me). I suggest assigning 5 to communities where the problems you have tagged have at least 5 possible solutions on the platforms you're researched (PH, Google, Amazon, Udemy). And 0 - to communities with problems that have no existing solutions yet. If there are over 5 solutions - assign scores from 1 to 4 (the more solutions are there, the less will be your score).
Why do I choose this framework?
If you failed to find solutions it might mean 3 things:
a) you failed your research,
b) the community doesn't consider this to be a problem that needs to be solved,
c) the community wants to solve this problem but is not ready to pay for it.
In any case, you still can build a startup serving this community but you will spend much more resources than needed to educate, find the right message, create e demand. This will NOT land you in a startup profitable from day one. You'd want to avoid as many complications as possible. 😁
Awesome! If you're ready - go ahead and do your research. I'll follow up the next week.