Be authoritative

Know your audience

You're an expert in your niche. You're primed to create authoritative content hoping it finds an interested audience — so who’s interested?

December 31, 202111 min read

For any creator, figuring out your audience, is a vital first step. Every niche has its audience — but audience composition, context, and need will vary. You need audience insight. So where do you find it?

Market strategy

The market for any product is as important as the product itself, in fact, a product should be informed by market research. Building without market insight risks a product nobody needs. Using market insight to achieve product-market fit, this is market strategy, and it’s essential to entrepreneurship.

Market strategy aims to identify key segments (prospective customers) to prioritize product development and marketing. In this process, key market contexts (i.e., where we find customers and what conditions influence behavior) should be identified. Most essentially: we need access to, and input from individuals in these key segments — a market strategy should be feedback-driven, and focus on the real world needs of prospective customers.

Audience strategy for creators

As creators, our audience is our market, our content is our product. We’re aiming for content-audience fit. For creators, our market strategy is an audience strategy.

Whether our niche is big or small, audience needs vary. As creators we need to prioritize efforts so it’s especially important we identify key segments to address audience needs precisely.

There are also broader considerations: any niche exists in certain key contexts — culture, trends, channels. Ask yourself: where will you find your audience? What are their key influences? How does this context inform your content?

For many creators, we’ll start in our niche. In this context, we are experts. We think we understand the need — but expert insights only take us so far. We’ll need to validate our ideas with our audience to build a value proposition. The key question: What is it your audience needs?

The answers you uncover through market research will be the basis for your best content (and your best content might even be worth your paying for).

💡 You know your niche. You're the expert — but to know your audience? You need to do your research.

In this article we’ll walk you through some market strategy fundamentals — key concepts we’ll use to develop an authoritative market perspective you can use to build products your audience will actually value (and pay for).

Thinking in segments

Segmentation takes a big group of individuals (a market) and divides them into groups (market segments). Each segment is defined by a set of shared needs and characteristics (similarity within a segment) and in contrast and similarity to other segments (i.e., heterogeneity and homogeneity).

In marketing we use segmentation to inform targeting and positioning (considering who we intend to reach, and how we intend to reach them). For product strategy segmentation allows us to focus on features most important to potential customers.

In general segmentation helps us prioritize, and differentiate — by identifying our primary and secondary segments we learn where to start, and how we might expand our efforts over time.

Segmentation in practice

Segmentation at it’s most basic involves identifying your market and taking a sample (i.e., building a database of prospective customers). We might use existing customers, industry research, or take a survey of the market, to gather data.

Key characteristics

Data gathering for audience segmentation should consider characteristics in the following areas:

  • Demographics: e.g., age, income, education
  • Geographic: e.g., country, province or state, city
  • Psychographic: e.g., beliefs, status, emotional state

Primarily, we want to capture characteristics most relevant to the identified market.

We then analyze by looking for patterns (i.e., common characteristics between individuals),as we slice, sort, and group the data. We then identify, assess, and prioritize based on the the relative size (and characteristics) of the identified segments.

Assessing segments

When you spot a pattern (a possible segment) ask yourself, "is this segment...":

  • Identifiable i.e., are the patterns obvious to spot?
  • Substantial i.e., is the segment big enough to target?
  • Accessible i.e., is the segment one we can reach?
  • Actionable i.e., have you gained have usable insight?

Key segments should check all these boxes, but in general: look for patterns that are obvious.

Segmentation for creators

As creators we know our niche. This is our market — we get the need. However, to be successful in a niche, we need to differentiate ourselves from our audience. While yes, you are the subject matter expert, are you the primary audience for your product?

In an expert niche, content creators will often be speaking to peers — i.e., those who share their interest. While mutual interest may draw an audience, we can’t miss all the ways in which audience needs specifically differ. A healthy audience is diverse.

Individuals in your audience may lack your experience, or perhaps (they’ve experienced something different). What you have to offer, and what you can learn in return, are key insights offered through audience segmentation.

In practice: build an audience database

Looking for your primary segment, on whatever platform is popular in your niche, who do you see? Screenshot, take inventory, build a database. Look for patterns. Is there anything obvious? Is there a substantial group? Is a primary audience in your reach, and, based on these insights — can you reach them?

Key question: How does the needs of your audience differ from your own?

Figure: Consider Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist. Who are his key segments? While some organizational psychologists follow him for insights, his key segments are organizational professionals — typically managers and those on the executive track, who perhaps, need key insights on how to support professional growth and retain talent.

Get the context

Context is setting — the place and conditions of a subject or object. Context is where things are, and where things happen. Context may be both a specific space and a specific time.

In business it’s the global business environment and brands and products are in market. Context’s in business might include: a global supply chain, a retail market, an individual shopper and the shelf that displays the product.

However, context is not a limited concept — for example: we exist in a universe, on a planet, I am in North America. Some people are female, some of us are late for work, some of us are currently scrolling Twitter. Each of these is a context. Context — regardless of scale influences what’s inside it.

I know what you’re thinking: is the universe really a market condition? Think about it — the universe is science, science is part of culture. Consider, a documentary film about the universe, like Carl Sagan's Cosmos. The universe is fundamental to it’s enduring success, i.e., if you don’t know you exist in a universe, you’re not in the market for Cosmos.

Back to earth, most contexts we consider in marketing are more grounded, for example

Market contexts, like:

  • Region: e.g., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Sector: e.g., finance, manufacturing, non-profit

And individual contexts:

  • Social: e.g., Black, Gay, French speaking, football fan
  • Experience: i.e., lived experience, professional experience
  • Relationships: e.g., colleagues, friends, family

As marketers it’s our job to see our market and brand in all of it’s intersectional contexts. And as we explore context, we can chart the landscape, drawing up a map to better navigate any our product market.

Context analysis

A common market strategy is context analysis (see also contextual inquiry). Think of it as surveying the landscape to check conditions and competitors. The objective is to observe and to learn — to gain insight: identifying gaps to serve and opportunities to differentiate.

In practice, a contextual analysis starts with an inventory of brands and products in our (or similar) markets. Take note of characteristics and compare: what are competitors doing differently? What’s common? What are brands who do it right? What can we do better?

Considering context we should also look beyond our competitors and consider conditions on the horizon: what are the global market conditions? Where are things happening? What’s the state of the world? what’s the state of our market?

The creator context

As creators, our audience is our market and like any market context — we should think broadly in terms of conditions: background, society, experience, etc.

In particular, as creators we want to look closely at the contexts in which we will in distribute content and grow our audience. Inside the creators economy we find a few key contexts to consider — in our niche there are relevant:

  • Channels for content distribution or sale e.g., Twitter, Substack
  • Influences i.e., popular trends and personalities e.g., Wordle, Lady Gaga
  • Interactions e.g., posts, comments, replies, likes, DMs

As creators we can map these various contexts to gain insight about where we might find ourselves (and our content) in the market.

In practice: context analysis for creators

Step 1: Get a lay of the land

Channels are where an audience finds content (and content finds an audience). While popular channels (like Instagram) offer engagement with existing audience, the best channels for creators are often platforms (like SubStack) that offer opportunities to generate revenue and own relationships.

Taking inventory of channels & platforms we get the lay of the land. Start with the channels you know. These may be the bigs (like YouTube, or Medium) or small groups you are a part of (online communities or chats like Discord) — anywhere online that your niche is active.

Step 2: See who’s who and what’s trending

Inside these channels we can examine trends (by leveraging search and keywords) to find influencers (top creators in our niche). Taking a sampling of top accounts (like those with most followers) we gain insight into what draws an audience through comparison and analysis.

We can also take a key samplings of other influencers at various levels of growth so we can see who we’re likely to compete with in the beginning and gain insight into commonalities and differentiators (or gaps) in the market.

Step 3: Dig into to the conversation

Digging deeper in to content, posts, followers and threads we can observe the activity in our niche directly. Taking a key sampling of what we see: individuals in the audience and how they interact — what’s the tone of the conversation? What is the shared-language or culture in your niche? The context of the conversation is essential to a niche audience.

See the need

The need. There is no more fundamental concept in market strategy than need. A market need should be the basis for our product. It seems intuitive enough — however, many new entrepreneurs miss the point.

So what is need? A need is any problem in the market — customer or business. Market needs should map one to one to features of your product. Solve a need, make things easier, meet the requirements of your customers — these are opportunities to deliver value as an entrepreneur — your value proposition — and a strategy for product-market fit.

Examples of needs:

  • “As a retailer I need to track inventory to know when products expire”
  • “As a doctor I need patient records so I know their condition”
  • “As a researcher I need data to perform market analysis”

Value proposition

A value proposition is a juxtaposition of features and needs. Pretty simple — create two lists, starting on one side or the other, what are the needs you product meets, and what are the features that ensure that. There are other things that impact value perceptions. Do I get something, as a customer? Is something being taken care of for me?

Of course, we can just make these needs up. We need insight — so what do we do? We start a conversation.

Creators: tell their story

Your content is your product. An article or episode your a feature. That’s the creator model.

As creators you can easily go to where your audience is and listen. Look at followers of your niche, what are they posting about? What’s a frustration — what isn’t working, what’s working well. All of these are need.

Of course we should also dig for detail — DM someone who you think is interested in the same things as you to ask them what they need. Tell them to imagine you are in a position to help. What would help them? What’s difficult in their work — their life. Talk about what’s relevant to your niche, but inquire about the context. This is market research.

In practice: user stories for creators

So how do we capture these insights? Write a brief story for each.

Simply, described the need (first person):

  • “As a journalist I need to balance writing with being on Twitter”
  • “As a founder I need to track the ideas in my head”
  • “As a new mom I need a little bit of peace”

It should be intuitive: we hear and say these kind of stories every day. But it’s easy to miss the opportunity to identify serve these needs. Don’t wait for conversation in your niche, find them, capture them as stories. Create content that checks off each story.

For example:

  • Help writers multi-task with Twitter
  • Help startup founders organize multiple ideas
  • Help moms find peace

Some need may not seem possible for your to address at first glance. That’s ok — this is an opportunity innovative. Is there some theoretical way you might solve it? As an expert in a niche you might a have an insight. Close the possibility gap — that’s an innovation and if it works, that’s value.


Creators with a market strategy are better equipped to be entrepreneurs. Sometimes it’s tricky because we’re often close to our market — it’s our interest and expertise we’re working with so it can feel like a self-evaluation. That works. Ask yourself: Who are you? What's your context? What do you need?

Start with what you know but don't get stuck there. Promptly looking around and look outward. Actually talk to people in your audience, talk to competitors! Get the conversation started. The sooner you’re testing ideas out on others in the market the better, because you’ll get better (especially if you can take a step back and work on your strategy).

Article by Sean Rioux