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Have you ever read something that made you think the person who wrote it was reading your mind?
They were speaking your language. It almost felt like they knew exactly what you were thinking…
And they probably did. They probably did the research to find out what their target audience was thinking, and then created the content they knew would resonate with them.
When you resonate with your audience you sell more product, build your email list more quickly, and connect with them on a deeper level.
So what’s the secret sauce? How can you, as a business owner, read your audience’s minds so you can create content to delight them?
We’ve found five free tools to help you do just that:
1. The Front Page of the Internet
As far as free market research tools go, reddit is among the best.
And reddit isn’t called the front page of the internet for nothing.
Reddit reaches over 200 million unique visitors each month with over 208 countries, which means that your target audience most certainly spends time on that platform.
Since reddit is completely free and powers communities called subreddits where a group of people discuss common topics, reddit is ripe with opportunity for any marketer.
To find your audience on reddit, search your keywords in the subreddit search tool to find conversations about your topic. For example, if you were in the nutrition industry, you might type in “nutrition” to bring up a list of subreddits related to that topic.
Then, start combing through the “top” results in the subreddit.
You can see the amount of “upvotes” between the arrows on the left-hand side of the post, which gauges the popularity of the post.
In the example above, you’ll note that of the top ten posts in this subreddit, two of those top spots are taken up by talk of energy and nutrition.
With this data, you can create content that will delight your audience by helping them achieve the results they want. What would be more compelling to you as somebody struggling to get enough energy during the day – a headline that the content creator obviously guessed at, or a piece of content that actually addresses what you’re struggling with?
Reddit is magic for any content marketer.
2. The Question and Answer Tool
One of the best ways to create content to help your audience with the exact challenges they’re experiencing is to discover what type of questions they have about your topic.
This is what makes Quora such a great free tool for market research. Quora is a platform on which your audience is actually asking the questions they want answered.
How’s that for reading their minds? Think of Quora like a sophisticated Yahoo! Answers. People ask questions, and other people – experts, content creators – answer them.
Use the search tool on Quora to search keywords for your industry. Let’s say you were in the business-to-business industry and helped new entrepreneurs start their businesses. You might type “entrepreneurship” into the search bar:
Begin to read through the Topic FAQ; these are questions that others have upvoted, shared, and re-asked over and over again.
You can use the exact language and concerns the asker uses to create content that gives them exactly what they want (and makes them think you read their mind – because you did!):
Then, Quora does a lot of the work for you by listing related questions (on the right hand side):
How’s that for being handed content ideas that will delight your audience on a silver platter?
3. The World’s Biggest Retailer
A market research tools list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the world’s biggest retailer:
Amazon is marketing gold for reading your target audience’s minds, because almost your entire market buys from Amazon, and because they’re actively reviewing their purchases and providing detailed feedback.
Start by searching popular book titles in your industry. For example, in the personal finance industry, you might search Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
Then, sort by “critical reviews”.
Amazon reviewers can be very detailed, so you’ll get insight into the language they use, the gaps in the book, and the information they need.
In this detailed review of Total Money Makeover, for example, the reviewer says:
“…You need to impose self-discipline to break bad-spending habits. His methods require almost crash-financial-diet measures (such as taking on extra jobs, ceasing any and all unnecessary spending to the point of maybe not having much fun, selling your possessions, etc.), but if you can stick to it, it will probably yield results.”
If you served this audience, how powerful could it be to provide them with the exact, step-by-step strategies that actually work to build up self-discipline and stick to financial goals?
4. The Social Platform Marketers Love to Hate
As frustrating as Facebook can be for marketers, it’s difficult to argue that Facebook has a reach that few other social platforms have.
Almost everyone you know uses Facebook, which is why Facebook is mind-reading gold.
But don’t just stick to Facebook pages or profiles. Facebook groups are where the action happens.
Facebook groups are gathering places for people who are interested in a specific topic, and if you focus on targeted groups, you can eavesdrop on your audience’s conversations so you can create content to provide massive value.
For example, if you taught photography for beginners, you could search photography in the search bar and sort by groups:
This will lead you right to the water; this is marketing gold, a place where thousands of your target audience is congregating. In this case, over 10,000 members!
When your membership is approved, start combing through the posts and taking note of the language your target audience uses and the types of questions they ask:
You can create content to help them exactly where they are.
5. Where Your Audience is Already Having Conversations
One of the best ways to create content to delight your audience is by filling in the gaps.
Have you ever tried to find information that just didn’t seem to be out there? It’s frustrating and when you finally find it, it’s a huge relief.
Your audience feels the same pain when they can’t find the information they need, and you can find what those gaps are by going where the gaps exist and your audience is having conversations around your topic:
If you aren’t familiar with any blogs about your topic, use a tool like Alltop.com to find popular blogs in your industry. For example, if you’re a career coach, you might choose “Careers”:
You could choose any of these blogs, but the best blogs to focus on are large, popular, single-authored blogs. These tend to drive the most comments.
When you’ve found a blog that fits the bill, read through a couple of the most popular blog posts and take note of what the blogger isn’t saying, and what the readers are in the comments sections.
Read through the comments, and take note of the trends in the type of questions people are asking.
This will help you fill in the gaps and give your audience the information they need rather than competing with the information they’ve already been given.
When it comes to market research, many businesses think they need to shell out money and resources on focus groups and research.
However, these tools are under-appreciated, free, and powerful platforms for that will save you a lot of cash and time.
As you dig through these platforms, you’ll begin to pick up content ideas, sales copy wording, and even your next product idea to help your audience with their exact challenges, desires, and needs…
Creating a truly irresistible value for your business.
About the Author: Nathan Chan is the Publisher and CEO of Foundr magazine. He is extremely passionate about entrepreneurship and has interviewed some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet today (Richard Branson, etc). He shares all of these interviews at www.foundrmag.com.