In my last post I talked about the importance of building your marketing to speak to all levels of your prospective customers. You can’t only focus on the experts and those that know you well. You need to spend time nurturing those that are getting to know you.

This task of speaking to all your prospective members is easier once you’re already established. You can pick people you’ve met right out of your community and use their traits in your persona’s. If you’re developing a new membership site, it’s a much harder endeavor.

You don’t have members that you can draw on for inspiration. Instead you need to build up these persona’s from scratch.

Here is the research strategy I use with my clients when we are looking deeper in to their market to develop their marketing strategy.

Develop your keywords

Before you can dive in to the research phase you need to know what you’re looking for. You’ll need a few keywords to use in your content research.

For this site I’ve used:

  • WordPress Membership site
  • Membership site
  • WordPress Membership
  • and a few others

I walked through each of the terms using the research template below. Now I wasn’t new to the WordPress Membership site market so it didn’t take me long to work through each term. In many cases I didn’t even need to click through the search results because I knew what the site was about.

The newer you are to your market the longer this should take.


It all starts with blogs. Yes there are many other social networks and media channels that can bring in prospects, but blogs are king. Blogs are text that’s easily read by search engines. This is going to help you now because you’re going to use Google to investigate other sites in your niche.

Start by going go Google and typing blog: $keyword where $keyword is one of your search keywords.

Make note of the names of the site. Check the comments and make note of the names of the people that have something good to contribute.


Next we’re going to dig in to the forums for your industry. Again, go to Google and search forum: $keword. Make note of the sites that come up.

Visit the forums that come up and make note of the names of the participants. Make note of the brands that are mentioned.

If the forum has a search function use it to search for ‘help’ or ‘question’. Doing this can help you see what problems your customers suffer from.


YouTube is the second biggest search engine. While the medium lends itself to less text, you can still glean lots of information by watching the top videos in your market.

Use each of your keywords in the search field. Watch the videos and make note of the people that are doing them. It’s likely you’ll start to see some overlap here between the blogs and those that produce video.

Also note the brands and products that are mentioned.

Take a minute to look at the comments to see if the viewers are asking any questions. Make note of these questions because they are problems that your possible clients are having.


Next up let’s dig in to podcasts. Use the following search with your keywords to find podcasts in your field.

"$keyword (incontent:podcast OR intitle: podcast OR inurl:podcast or inurl: episode)"

As with the other search’s, make note of the names you see. What brands are mentioned? Who makes comments on the episodes?

As you see repeats across your research, add stars beside the ones that keep coming up.


If you’ve don’t the rest of this well then you’ve likely amassed a list of influencer’s. It’s time to dig a bit deeper in to them. Start by using their name to see if they have a site. If you they do and they dominate the results for their name (and they likely will) then add to your searches to exclude their sites.

With this research in hand you’re ready to dive in deeper to your marketing. You know the podcasts you should be trying to get on. You should have seen the same brands and sites come up a number of times. Target these as the relationships you want to build.

You’ll also have a great handle on the users in your industry. You can use this to develop the persona’s that you need to be marketing to.

Every time I tweak my content marketing or business positioning I work through the process above to make sure that I’m targeting my prospects properly.

PS: If you need help digging in to your market we should talk.

photo by: edwicks_toybox

Posted by Curtis McHale

Web developer specializing in membership and ecommerce sites. I like to ride my bicycle.