If you’re trying to catch fish, it’s a good idea to steer your boat to where the fish are. You don’t go fishing in a chlorinated swimming pool.
In the same way, whenever you’re selling something, you want to start by selling it to where your customers and most likely prospects are already. In the real world, that means picking a location that has significant relevant foot traffic. Online, it means looking for the organized discussion groups and websites that are already enthusiastic either about your product or your product category.
Because much of advertising today is still targeted to broad audiences, there’s a tendency for people to kick off campaigns that are too broadly targeted to succeed.
Depending on what you’re selling, where your customers are will be different. If you’re selling a video game, you’re going to want to go to an appropriate subreddit or create one for your own company. If you’re selling real estate, you’ll want to look at local publications, discussion forums, and events to understand your area better. If you’re selling a fitness product for women, you want to find blogs and forums where women talk about working out.
Not only will this give you a direct window into what your target market is talking and thinking about, but it’ll also give you ideas for where to target display ads and other paid media. It will always be more effective to go after the people who are most ready to buy first before pursuing broader markets.
This also goes for social networks like Facebook. Instead of the broadest possible demographic targeting, you should start your test campaigns with more specific slices of people whose interests overlap with your services. This can save you a lot of money.
Once you have profitable campaigns running against your target market, you can start expanding with riskier tests into broader groups.