Imagine you’re a rancher in a rural part of Idaho. You raise grass-fed beef on your 4th-generation family farm, and you’re trying to find a better way to sell your cattle. You strongly believe that customers should know where their food is coming from and know who’s producing it, how it’s being handled, etc. This is the exact position my dad found himself in 5 years ago.
Define Your Primary Market
The main audience was comprised of people living within his delivery area, about 150 miles in any direction. This included Eastern Idaho, Northern Utah, and a small part of Wyoming. As you can guess, that doesn’t amount to a lot of people. However, we set up BradysBeef.com and optimized for Idaho and Utah beef and got it ranking for those terms organically.
The next step was setting up social accounts on Twitter and Facebook to connect with the more technology-savvy users in the target area. While Twitter adoption is low, Facebook is nearly ubiquitous and presented a great opportunity. We started doing some Facebook advertising.
Overcome Super-Small Audience Sizes
Even though everyone has Facebook, most of them didn’t have a lot of indicators that would allow us to target them. The main geographic area we set had 1.2 million people (most in the Salt Lake City area), but more specific groups were much smaller:
-Interest – “natural grass fed beef” – Fewer than 1,000 people
-Interest – “beef tenderloin” – Fewer than 1,000 people
-Interest – “roast beef” – Fewer than 1,000 people
To get anything with a decent audience size, we had to make compromises on the specificity of the targeting.
-Interest – “beef” – 26,000 people
-Interest category – Organic food – 44,000 people
-Industry – Agriculture – 220,000 people
Beef is very generic. Organic food is closer, but becoming “certified organic” was a 3-5 year process that was unlikely to happen. The agriculture industry is very broad and many people would already have their own home grown beef. So it was tough.
Create Parallel Audiences
In geometry, two lines are parallel when they exist in the same plane, never intersect, and are separated by a constant distance. Likewise, parallel audiences are people with interests that are common, yet don’t “intersect”.
While speaking with customers, my dad began to notice some common threads that appeared frequently. Many had been homeschooled themselves or were currently homeschooling their own children. Likewise, many of them had seen the documentary “Food, Inc.” So we looked at these audiences in our area:
-Interest – “homeschooling” – 8,600 people
-Interest – “Food, Inc.” – 12,200 people
Thus, parallel targeting allowed us to reach more people, while still focusing on highly relevant targeting factors. To find your own parallel audiences, ask yourself these types of questions:
-What movies/documentaries about your industry are your customers watching?
-What books about your industry are people reading?
-What activities are your customers passionate about?
Then expand the audience and get rolling! Good luck.