Even though most startups struggle to even survive for their first year, we have witnessed a frenzy of entrepreneurship in the post-pandemic economy. It seems like everyone is in the market right now looking to get their startup business on a solid foundation with some fundraising from friends and family or angel investing. During this stage, it is critical for entrepreneurs to tell a compelling story to potential investors and prospects to motivate them to take a chance on a startup venture. Many great new business ideas never come to fruition because a compelling story wasn’t crafted, and a winning sales strategy wasn’t formulated from the beginning. It’s never just about your great idea – it’s about how you tell your story, motivate people to embrace your vision and line up to support you. Closing the deal takes finesse and you must formulate the right strategy for your particular market. This means researching your target audience, finding your niche, differentiating your product or service, building communities of followers and demonstrating how you will monetize your idea.
In this article, we will reveal 5 essential strategies to help you successfully launch your startup, garner the support of prospects and secure the backing of investors:
1. Think Deeply About Your Customer
Who’s your target audience? Not just the demographic, but who are they really—age, work, background, preferences, status, interests, dreams. Once you know some of this, you can start to consider what motivates them.
This matters a lot. It takes time and research, and a lot of data analytics, to do it right. But in the end, you’ll be glad to have some sense of exactly who you’re talking to you. It helps you to speak to them in the most effective way possible. But it takes time. You’ll have to A/B test and do some investigating to find out what works and what doesn’t—and you probably won’t get it right the first time, either. But if you don’t know who you’re speaking to, you’ll end up bending the ear of someone who just doesn’t care about your brand.
2. Add Value Where Others Fall Short
Only one thing can separate your startup from your competition and help you create customer preference: the unique value that you create. This begins with deeply understanding your competitors, their strengths, their weaknesses and their vulnerabilities. What benefits do they claim and not truly deliver? Where are they letting down their customers? What special features can you bring to the customer experience that will separate you from the crowd? Answering these types of questions will help you reveal white space opportunities. The trick is positioning your business and its story in a way that makes your rivals look old, stale, and out of touch with customer expectations. Some market niches are highly competitive and demand continuous innovation. Constantly offering new and better services or customer benefits is a key to differentiation and survival.
For example, in the online learning and education industry, focusing on innovation and value creation is critical. Market leaders identify new and different ways to create value like developing top-notch software that detects plagiarism and thereby improves and enhances the experience for both educators and students. Solving this type of known problem adds a ton of value – by reinforcing the right student behaviors while simultaneously saving time and reducing level of effort for the educator.
3. Fulfill Unmet Needs
People have so many needs. So many, in fact, that they often are not even aware of their own needs! Identifying unmet needs and then fulfilling them is not only a great selling strategy, but it also has the potential to create long-term customer loyalty. By shining a light on a need that customers did not even know they had, you have the potential to develop a completely new market or product category – that you can own. Think about Spotify, Uber, WeWork, Airbnb… most people were not even aware that they had a need for these types of products and services. But today, most of us not only use these brands, but we also can’t think of life without them! Moreover, as the brand that opens people’s eyes to their unmet or unfulfilled needs, you can create a lasting emotional connection with the customer. People will see your brand as not simply a solution to a problem, but truly an innovative value-add to their life.
4. Develop Community and Advocacy
Thanks to digital marketing and social media, your startup can interact with your audience directly, and create a personal, long-lasting relationship. This can help you build a community around your brand, inspire engagement, attract traffic to your official website, convert users into customers, and increase customer loyalty. It’s also the perfect place for asking for feedback so that you can improve not only your digital presence but also your brand. So, create a blog, forum, Reddit chatroom, podcast, or an online publication. Anything that resembles a community of like-minded individuals who share the love for your product or service. Give them free samples, coupons, and the ability to write reviews or give grades to your company. A key marker of success for any startup rests on its ability to create a vibrant and profitable community of followers.
5. Tap into Emotions
It doesn’t matter who your audience is or what you intend to sell, storytelling is such an art that can help startups entertain, educate, influence, and engage the audience. Infusing your story with persuasive, memorable, or inspirational anecdotes can help you woo your prospects and initiate a successful call-to-action.
The goal is to transform “selling” into a memorable storytelling experience for the audience. Coca-Cola does it, and so does Nike. Your little startup can do it too! If done right, you invite the audience to resonate with your products or services, earn their trust and make it personal, real & relatable. Further, don’t forget to leverage metaphors to create a strong impression. The more immersed the audience becomes in your story, the more likely they are to engage and buy from your startup. Great branding of your startup will result in people associating your business with an emotion – preferably a positive one!
These 5 essential strategies are not mutually exclusive, and they can certainly be mixed and matched to help assure the successful launch of your startup. Applying them largely depends on the audience you are trying to reach and the complexity of the markets where you choose to compete. Success is not driven by just choosing one particular strategy, it’s about combining them properly, at the right time and in the right ways. Applying these strategies will surely improve your likelihood to succeed and close any deal. Just make sure that before you implement, you have a simple, clear and compelling brand story for your startup. Without story, even the best strategies will not drive results and your startup will struggle coming out of the gate.
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to craft brand stories and formulate winning marketing strategies for your small business, subscribe to the TopRight blog! Or connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can learn more about how to bring simplicity, clarity, and alignment to your brand’s story, strategy, and systems in our best-selling book: Marketing, Interrupted.