The Most Successful Startups Know These Secrets
We want to help your business to grow. That’s the whole reason for us doing what we do, and we know everyone needs a little helping hand every now and then – even the most successful startups did.
To that end, here are some tips we’ve picked up from our own startup journey, remembering the points here have helped us to focus on what’s essential for our users. We hope they’ll help you as much as they’ve helped us.
Founding a new business can sometimes seem like a major risk, and that’s because it is: you’re putting your treasured idea out there to be picked at and analysed by a public that might not initially, or ever, understand it, if it’s not right for the market. That’s not to try to put you off, it’s just to state facts: you’re going to meet a lot of opposition for your business idea.
Whether you overcome that or not will depend on how good your idea is, but not only that: you also need your product to find a market.
Why Marketing is Vital in the Early Stages
A lot of entrepreneurs subscribe to the view that if their startup is based on a good enough initial concept, it doesn’t need marketing in the early stages. In actual fact, that’s the time when marketing is most needed. Marketing isn’t just an overhead – it’s the way that companies identify who will buy, or use, a product, and how to get their attention and interest.
The reason marketing often seems to be an afterthought with startups is because tech startups, for example, are often founded by technical people – coders or engineers of some description – and they don’t always feel comfortable selling their idea. It’s the old problem of great inventors and great salespeople not always being the same thing.
Also, the world of sales and marketing has changed. There’s often a big question: “if I am selling software, am I selling it to a user or to a business?” Years ago, it was fairly easy to distinguish who picks up the bill. Nowadays we see that, in most cases, product purchases are done by the end-user. The concept of B2B vs B2C vs B2B2C vs B2X is not linear any more.
How Can Your Product Make People Feel?
People buy products, or subscribe to products, because they believe those products will improve their lives in some way. Let’s take smartphones: not everyone buys a premium phone, but even if they buy a cheaper one, the chances are they bought it because of some combination of aesthetics, features, and price.
The bottom line is, though, the majority of purchases are made for emotional reasons, and the most successful startups know this. “That phone will make me look cooler / improve my Instagram profile / help me to perform some task more effectively.” If it were just about function, then the decision would be much easier and more rational, but we all know it isn’t.
This is a crucial thing that people often fail to research before doing marketing on their product, and releasing it out onto the market. Think carefully about how you want your product to make your potential customers feel, and it’ll help you create the marketing it deserves.
Look at Your Product With Fresh Eyes
We know what it’s like to make a product that we think is great, but then to show it to someone and get a different view. Nexd Campaign Manager is the result of years of constant development, and each time we made a change, we asked, “what would help our customers?”
In order to get this answer, we took on board customer feedback whenever we got it, and took any criticism constructively. That’s something we think can help anyone. If you have a great idea, unless you keep it to yourself, you will need to bear in mind that everyone else will have a slightly different view of that idea. Constructive criticism is healthy, because it enables you to continuously improve your business model and your product, just like all the most successful startups have.
You’ve got to know who you’re marketing to, at least in broad terms. The thing is, putting a product out there without any market research potentially means that the first thing people will see is something that does not interest them, and they may not return to future iterations of the product.
As an example, we see this with some Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects: perhaps the product raises enough money to get made, but then a few poor reviews on Amazon can easily kill it.
There’s a difference between getting financial support from the kind of hardcore fans of a concept that will pay for it before production, and getting interest from a wider public, like these most-funded Kickstarter projects did. You’ve got to be prepared before you go to market and try to attract that wider public to your product.
Don’t Be Afraid To Put the Product Out There
This might seem contrary to the previous piece of advice, but as long as you’ve built a product that you know (within the bounds of reasonable doubt) works, and it’s been properly tested, and you’ve got an inkling it will find a market, sometimes the best way of testing a market is to get it out there.
If you set up a hypothesis, backed up by evidence (either your own evidence, from experience, or that of the team or mentors around you), and if your product then gets traction with the people you expect it to, then it will get activity, and this is your proof of concept. This isn’t taking excessive risks, this is balancing risk and reward in an appropriate way, and might lead to your brand becoming one of the most successful startups.
Doing so with an evidence-based approach will help you. This means you need to have evidence your product is going to find a market, or at least a hypothesis based in fact. You also need to view the results of your product going to market in an unemotional way. If it performs, you’ve found a market. If it doesn’t, you’ve learned something, and you can make changes to your product to make it sell better out there. Whatever you do, you have to be agile to adjust your product to fit the market.