"How do I find people who want to read my blog?"
"Where are the people who want to listen to what I have to say?"
"Where and how can we find our customers?"
"Does anyone want what we're selling?"
These are examples of questions I get asked a lot, especially in terms of starting a business or getting an idea off the ground. And while the answers can very by industry, budget, and interest, mostly I tell folks, "Cook it up."
Inventing your customer base may be the best bet for any idea or company. Sure, if you sell an existing product (say, shaving cream) and there are people already shopping in this product category (dudes who shave), then you can reach them through advertising or by showing up where they congregate (razor aisles at stores, aftershave conventions).
But what if you have to congregate folks from the start? What if you have to convince a whole new subset of customers that what you have is awesome, even if they never imagined it before?
That's essentially what Lodge has to do with their product. They make cast iron skillets. Good ones, in fact. So good that when you buy one, you never need to buy another one. So once you're a customer, save buying a skillet as a gift, you'll never be a repeat customer. That's a tough way to go at it compared to being a cell phone manufacturer or fashion designer, where you've got a built-in expectation of updates and trends.
So Lodge is going out to cook up a new audience, reaching a new set of people who may not think they need or want cast iron cookware. Read the article on what they're doing.
The best part of cooking up your own audience isn't just that then you've got them so you can sell them something. It's that then you become known for bringing people together and not just selling things. In a world where a lot of people sell a lot of things, not many are also organizing and getting groups of fans and freaks together.
So if you can do this - can cook up an audience from scratch - you'll stay top of mind. You'll be the one people appreciate for reasons deeper than a transaction can measure. You'll be the place they come back to, the one they tell their friends about, and the one they stay true to. Start cooking and watch who shows up.