Today we have an awesome guest post from super-star student and entrepreneur Alex Kehaya. Alex has been with us for a long time, and he’s taken quite a few of the classes at One Month. He’s an entrepreneur, a writer, and an all around kick-ass human. We’re excited to have him joining us today to teach more about how to build an audience, generate content ideas, and find your early users.
How to use your business contacts to generate content ideas
Hey One Month, Alex Kehaya here! I’ve taken a bunch of the classes here and recently finished Sarah’s course on Content Marketing. Right now I’m taking time to focus on my audience: first-time entrepreneurs (building startups and/or small businesses) and I set out to come up with ideas for content that would appeal to this audience.
I’m a market validation and product launch expert, and I take tons of coffee meetings each week with entrepreneurs who need help getting started with their ideas. I started to see a pattern in the types of questions that they were asking, and decided to follow up with a couple of them to find out what kind of value I’d created for them.
Create maximum value and leverage existing networks
There is a lot of literature on the process of customer development: in essence mapping out your idea and gathering evidence to prove out your business model. But, there’s not a whole lot of business specific and actionable advice for how to actually execute the process of customer development. This is the type of guidance that I’d been giving entrepreneurs at our coffee meetings.
I needed specific scenarios to write about. I set out to discover as many problems faced by real entrepreneurs as I could. In less than 24 hours, from this research, I also generated what will probably be at least a month’s worth of content.
Here’s how I did it.
1: Leverage an existing network
When finding and testing new ideas, it’s always good to look for existing platforms and networks with built-in audiences. I’m a huge fan of the subreddit R/Entrepreneur, and it’s where I’ve learned a ton from others on the forum. I know there are a lot of first-time entrepreneurs there, so I decided it would be a good place to test the waters.
WARNING: being spammy and not adding value is not well received on reddit, so avoid this at all costs. Adding value is very welcomed (more on this later).
To test whether my posts would be well received, I tried posting on the weekly thread in R/Entrepreneur dedicated to people seeking help. My screen name is gtgug8 (I don’t care about the anonymity thing) so take a look at the first post that I wrote:
I meant every word. I’ve had so much help as an entrepreneur and think it’s really important to give back.
2: Create as much value as possible
I was blown away by how many people sent me private messages with very long, very detailed questions. These were the themes of most of the questions:
- “How do I find my first customer?”
- “How can I monetize my site?”
- “What are some things I should watch out for when validating my idea?”
- “How do I start?”
My goal with the post was to add as much value as I could for the other redditors. This is a really important point when leveraging an existing network. You want to be authentic in your approach, otherwise no one will want to follow you or interact with you.
My goal with the post was to add as much value as I could for the other redditors.
3: Engage thoroughly and add value (yes, it takes time)!
I considered the first post a success, so I decided to open it up to the main forum with a repeat post:
Note how long my responses were. This might seem like a lot of work (it was) but I was able to repurpose all of this content for my blog, medium account, and other channels. I’ll also be turning much of this content into a screencast series.
Finally, make sure you record all the ideas and feedback you get. I’ve kept notes in a google doc of all the interesting stories and questions that I read for future reference.
4: Ask yourself: What networks exist that my audience visits regularly?
How can I create value for them in a place where they’re already interacting? How can I use conversations as fodder for blog posts and additional content? While it may seem like a lot of work in the beginning to write personalized responses to each question, you’ll notice over time that these become great resources to build out blog posts, screencasts, and tutorials. Instead of staring at a blank screen, asking “What might my customers want to read about?” you can figure it out by engaging with people first, and using your conversations as building blocks second.