Asking our target audience what they're main problems are that they are right now willing to invest in solving is the action of getting basic marketing intelligence. Big corporate advertisers do this by paying research companies to host focus groups.
Solopreneurs can do the same thing. In fact, it's a good marketing strategy to do so. People love to give their opinions usually. And they like to talk about themselves, and complain about their problems. A focus group is a gold mine of marketing intelligence.
The basis of an invitation to come to a focus group can be that you are gathering information on the topic of ______for a special report you are writing, or for the development of a special tip sheet or CD or workshop. Pitch the invitation as you wanting info from the "in the trenches" experts (your target niche audience).
During the focus group, be sure to sprinkle into your listening a few free tips. Just because you are acting as an information gatherer doesn't mean you aren't still the specialist in your field. Never miss an opportunity to let people sample you doing your work.
Of course, you then do have to create the report (or whatever), but that becomes a further good marketing tool itself.
Gathering marketing intelligence is a standard phase of business development for all startups, and for any new major product or revenue stream launch. They can be fun, informative, and excellent networking -- all at the same time! A great way to leverage your efforts.