Advertisers love those niche cable channels. While the most of the audiences pale in size comparison to the major networks, the targeting is much better. Want people who love food to see your message? There is a station for that. Want to reach car enthusiasts? There is a station for that. Now imagine a channel that appeared for just a few days and even better, airing a commercials on this channel was free. Every day, somewhere around the globe, niche audiences are gathering at events like industry conferences or hobby expos. With the growing use of twitter, what would one of these conferences be without the #conferencename? The hash tag allows all the attendees to see the stream of posts from other attendees. Voila, instant niche channel. For the duration of the event, reaching that targeted audience with your message is as easy as adding a hash tag.
Since I have been writing a bit about what I see as needed changes in the training and development industry, I thought that I should get some feedback from today’s practitioners. As luck would have it, the beginning of this week was the national conference for the industry and so I sent the 8,500 attendees a message by using the American Society of Training & Development’s own conference hash tag (#ASTD10) and a link to my blog. Now my blog style is a bit confrontational, see “This Industry Needs an Enema” if you need proof. My initial message was more gentle, simply “Wonder what the @ASTD crowd at #ASTD10 will think of this?” with a link to a less abrasive post. The results were immediate with blog hits within multiple a few minutes. I waited until lunch time and repeated the message with a bit more aggressive tweet, “I am sure the @ASTD crowd eating lunch at #ASTD10 will have something to say about this…[link]”. Again the response was immediate. By the end of the day I am sure I ruffled some new found feathers and my blog had a big day with many visitors viewing more than just the one post and the views continuing through today.
So what does this mean for your lean start-up? Simple, with a few targeted landing pages and some planning you can get your message, offer, or at least your name in front of the right audience where ever they may be. Build a list of potential messages, do A/B testing through longer conferences, try out special offers or different landing pages. The channel only exists for a day or two so be prepared and watch it closely. Follow the stream and make your message relevant to attendees (I sent out the second message after seeing a lot of tweets about the $12 hamburgers at the conference venue). In order to execute a lean start-up you need customer feedback and that means you need customers. How do you find customers? Follow the hash tag.