What is Your Minimum Viable Audience?

Text of email newsletter sent on 13th September

Traditionally, a new business would start by developing a great product and taking it to market.

Sounds sensible, right? But there have been countless spectacular (and sometimes hilarious) failures by businesses following that approach:

  • Colgate’s beef Lasagna
  • Google+
  • Watermelon Oreos
  • The Delorean DMC-12

Those efforts led to a lot of red faces and lost money!

An alternative approach is to build an audience first, find out what they want, and develop a product for them – the audience-first business model.

Here are some benefits of this approach:

  • Your initial investment will be lower (possibly a lot lower)
  • You’re much more likely to develop a profitable product (or service)
  • You can start, and remain, small while you iron out any wrinkles

The downsides are that it will take you longer to earn income, and you do have to build your audience first – which can take a while and cost money.

None-the-less, the higher profitability of the product that you develop in response to what your audience tells you, easily outweighs the downside.

The key to this approach is to work out what your Minimum Viable Audience is. Your Minimum Viable Audience (MVA) is the smallest audience you need in order to get reliable feedback as to what they want.

But it will vary in size, depending on the market you’re addressing.

In Joe Pulizzi’s podcast below he refers to a Minimum Viable Audience of 10,000 email subscribers, but that’s what he needed to get reliable feedback for his offering.

In another sector you may only need an audience of 500 – for example, if you’re serving a specialist area, and those 500 are highly engaged.

So how do you build an audience?

  1. Start a blog
  2. Publish content
  3. Attract visitors
  4. Find out what they want

Stop for a moment and think about those four steps.

It’s focused market research without the ridiculous agency costs.

With the knowledge they give you, you can build a product or service that your audience will buy.

So they are a route map to creating a profitable business.

This week’s links

This week I’ve focused on different aspects of the audience first business model: I’ve linked to a podcast on what it is and why you need to establish your Minimum Viable Audience size, how to use your MVA to develop a profitable product, and how to grow your audience by attracting visitors to your blog.

I’ve also linked to a 20-minute podcast on how to close the ‘knowing and doing gap’: knowing what you should be doing, but struggling to actually do it.

Finding your minimum viable audience

This is a 4-minute podcast from Joe Pulizzi, on what a minimum viable audience is and why you should find yours.

If you’re not familiar with the term, and its benefits, Joe explains it succinctly here:

Finding your minimum viable audience

Using your minimum viable audience to develop a profitable product

In this article, Guerric de Ternay explains, in detail, how to use your minimum viable audience to identify the product they need. He gives examples:

Using your MVA to find a profitable product

How to grow your audience

Of course, to have a minimum viable audience you first have to grow it. Creating a blog, and attracting visitors to it, is a great way to do that.

So in this article, Adam Connell goes through the process, step-by-step, of growing your audience.

This is a long article, but it contains great tips and tools that will help you drive more visitors to your blog, thereby creating your minimum viable audience:

How to grow your audience

Closing the knowing and doing gap

In this 20-minute podcast Marc Guberti and Francois Lupien discuss why it is that we know what we should do, but don’t get around to doing it.

One of the inhibitors that I often experience is over-complicating things in my mind. This leads me to not starting, so I usually turn to something that I know, and do that instead.

There are some great tips in this discussion on how to ‘un-stick’ yourself, and do the stuff that you know you should be doing:

Closing the knowing and doing gap

Fun flashback

I’ve always been a great fan of Jeff Lynne (and, by extension, ELO). Here they are with a live performance of ‘Living Thing’ at the Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, in August 2018:

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Martin Malden

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Website owner: Martin has been working online since 2006 and focuses on two areas: 1) affiliate marketing and 2) designing and building websites based on WordPress. He has his own WordPress agency, and serves clients in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK.