Listening in the Right Places: Finding Unique Forums for Lead Generation

Listening in the right places. It’s a simple idea, but can you honestly say you’re doing it enough for sufficient lead generation? After all, there are plenty of customers who need your service. But how do you get in front of them to provide the support they need?

Whether on Quora, in social media groups, or at local meetup events in your city — which communities are your target customers in, what sorts of questions are they asking, and how can you solve their pain points?

This article will help you think creatively to get in front of the right people. The best part is that most of these high-value ideas are either free or very low-cost.

Supporting Your Customers

Customers need you, but if they can’t find you, you’re not providing them any value.

Some days it may not seem to be the case, but the truth is there is enough market opportunity. Sure, you don’t necessarily have the audience yet but the key thing to remember is that there is an audience somewhere for your product. But chances are, about 98% of the people in your market who should know about your product don’t know about it.

“We tend to get really focused on competitors,” according to Josh Ledgard, co-founder of KickoffLabs.

“The reality is there’s enough market opportunity probably for you, your competitor, and five other people doing the same thing if you would just get in front of the right people,” he notes in a recent Audience Ops podcast.

This is not necessarily the case if you’re Apple or Samsung but that’s definitely the case if you’re a small- or medium-sized company, he notes.

People are out there actively asking questions and raising their hands saying, “I have a need.” So learn to identity where they’re asking those questions, which communities they’re in, and solve their pain points.

While the foundation of marketing starts out pretty static, remember that the future of your company’s success is anything that creates a more engaging relationship with your customers and guests.

“Quora was a big revenue thing for us early on. People would ask a question and we would say ‘Let me give you some best practices and also, here’s my company,’” says Ledgard.

He says they’d take their most popular answers, repurpose them back on their company’s blog, then circle back to Quora to answer more questions. Keep in mind this is also a great way to build your company blog and create an arsenal of helpful evergreen content.

Telling a Friend

Think of your personal network as a circle. Then think of how your network can help even more people move in toward the circle of your company’s product. For example, if the first circle is your personal network, then the second circle is your trusted audience that may follow you on social media or are long-time loyal customers. What’s important here is that the second circle of people who knows you and highly recommends you promotes you to the critical third circle, which is their personal network.

The idea here is basically asking friends who try your product to tell a friend. Remember that when people hear from customers like themselves, it really resonates.

“For every one of the first 1,000 people who signed up and who I’d talk to, I’d say ‘If you thought this was useful, please tell a friend.’ They would do it if I actually told them to,” says Ledgard.

That’s a highly motivating reminder: they may just do it if you ask!

Along a similar train of thought, befriend industry influencers and ask them to recommend your company. For example, find people who run interesting, high-traffic blogs or popular podcasts that target your demographic. Then really listen to their message: either read through their blog or listen to past episodes of the work they’re producing. The most important step here is listening so you can identity common questions and problems. Then, create a list of how your service in particular can solve their fans’ biggest pain points or enhance their lives in other ways.

If you give them enough to work with (such as explaining how you built your product or how your service works) the influencer may rework the content and put it in front of their audience, too.

Showing up at Local Events

Remember that you can always find target customers in local groups in your own city. Meetups and local networking groups are good places to start – you may even have the chance to sponsor an event, a great push for brand recognition.

Here are some ideas for getting started:

  • Meetups. has 32.3 million members in 182 countries. There are approximately 288,726 Meetup groups, with 614,764 Meetups scheduled each month, so you certainly won’t have a problem finding several in your area to attend. But if nothing that captures your target buyer exists, then by all means, go ahead and set up your own Meetup. Once you have a date and time established, promote it on your blog, tweet it, share in your Facebook group, and promote the Meetup to your email contact list.
  • Local networking. Find local events in your city. This could mean showing up for breakfast at your local Chamber of Commerce or Business Network International chapter, or it could mean attending a party for your alumni networking event or volunteering with a young professionals group. If you look hard enough, you’ll find a range of local networking organizations.
  • Judge a contest. You can also seek out places to judge a contest and get further brand recognition in your local community. For example, seek out competitions at local colleges, online awards, or through entrepreneurial network events.

Wrapping Up

Listening in the right places isn’t hard, but it does take time. Find unique forums to truly hear what questions your target demographic is asking and find ways – both virtually and in person – to delight new customers.

Finding your voice as a subject matter expert, networking with friends and bloggers, and showing up at local events are all low-cost, high-value ways to network with a new audience.

After all, when you can help someone solve their problem, you’ll find that positive word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most effective ways to grow your business.