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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

How to Attract Your Startup's Minimum Viable Audience

Updated: Jan 27

Let’s say that you’re the owner of a startup that hasn’t launched yet. You know that you’ve got the perfect product or service. You also know that you selected the perfect team to help you get your idea off the ground and bring your vision to the marketplace.

You’re pretty much ready to conquer the world at this point, right?

There’s only one barrier in-between you and world domination. One thing standing in-between you and your dream car. Your dream house. Heck, maybe even your dream spouse.

And that one thing is sales.

I don’t have to tell you that a business cannot exist for long without sales…but I’ll tell you anyway (sorry, but this must be emphasized…you’ll thank me later). A business cannot not exist for long without sales! So, how can your startup get enough sales to stay afloat and pay that great team of yours before you scale?

The answer is simplefind your MVA (minimum viable audience).

A minimum viable audience is the fewest amount of customers that a business could serve in order to survive. In other words, they’re the lifeblood of every business because they’re the most important people outside of your organization.

Here's are a few ways to attract those very important people to your startup.

Don’t fish for carp in the ocean

I’m sure you’re probably wondering, “What the heck does fishing for carp have to do with helping my business survive?” Relax, it’s just an analogy. Which basically means don’t invest time trying to catch a fish in the oceanthat’s only found in lakes and ponds.

That same logic pertains to finding your minimum viable audience.

If you want to find your MVA, the first step is narrowing your search specifically to platforms that your audience is known to frequent. Looking for them anywhere else is like fishing for carp in the oceanyou’ll always end up highly disappointed.

The simplest method to understanding the places where your MVA is known to frequent is by conducting a psychographic profile of your target customer (don’t worry, this doesn’t require the expertise of a writer from the show Criminal Minds).

All you really have to do is know who your customers are; where they’re likely to work, how much money they make, what they like to do for fun. And where people like them gather with their friends.

Then, turn that data into a consumer profile. You and your team could actually make a game out of figuring this out. Once you do, you could then focus your marketing efforts on reaching them where they are. Sorta like fishing for carp in a pond.

Articulate your distinctiveness

There are a few ways for a brand to convey distinctiveness to an audience. Some of my favorites are:

  • Being first in a category.

  • Only serving a certain demographic (exclusivity).

  • Emphasizing a particular culture or set of ethics.

  • Having a unique process in the way you provide service to consumers that will benefit them (like serving hamburgers to customers faster than your competitors).

  • Being the total opposite of the current leader of the category.

Whichever one of these five methods of conveying distinctiveness you choose for your brand, be sure to articulate it to your audience in a way that anyone could understand.

Incentivize Early Adopters

For those unfamiliar with early adopters, they’re the first people to support a new product or service. These are the people that every brand must appeal to initiallybecause they’re the ones that will become unofficial spokespersons for the brand and will recruit others to do the same.

To attract early adopters, incentivize them to give your product or service a try. One way to do that is by giving away free trials or samples to a percentage of your MVA. Especially those that have the most influence amongst their peer groups. Which brings us to our final step.

Highlight Influencers

As a brand director, I’ve seen the power that influencers can have on a brand first-hand. I’ll even go as far as to say that besides word-of-mouth advocacy of a brand by peer groups influencer marketing is the most effective form of marketing that there is.

That’s because we’re all influenced by someone. It could be a co-worker; a relative, a neighbor, your favorite athlete, your favorite actress, or just an attractive person that you’d like to be around—it doesn’t matter who it is or who you arewe’re all influenced by someone.

Your mission as a brand manager is to find the influencers that your audience follows and partner with them to endorse your brand. Which is important, because their endorsement of your brand would help accelerate sales and growth exponentially.

Once you partner with them, be sure to highlight them in every advertisement your brand produces. As well as on all of your social media platforms. If done correctly, they’ll serve as magnets for your brand to attract your minimum viable audience.


The harsh reality of business is that about 20% of small businesses in the U.S. fail within their first year of operation. And about 50% go out of business before reaching their sixth year of operation. But it doesn’t have to be this way for your business.

To avoid a similar fate for your startup, use the methods above to find and attract its MVA. Once you do, the kind reality of business could be that your startup will become part of the 30% of businesses that makes it past the ten-year mark.


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