rom coming up with a great idea, researching your product-market fit, building a team, creating a prototype, and securing funding - you’re finally on your way to launching a product or service that you envision as the next big thing in your industry.
But after a few months on the market, you realise that competition is fierce, and although your product is truly revolutionary - you’re still getting low conversions, not meeting the sales projections and encountering various other challenges that are truly frustrating.
Or, you might just be starting out. Validating your idea and trying to figure out what would be the best way to position your brand on the market. Well, in this post we’ll look at 5 key marketing tips to incorporate into your growth strategy and go-to-market.
Show, don't tell.
People are more likely to perform an action when it’s inspired by their own need and not by what they are told.
Leveraging this in business, your goal when communicating with your audience should be to exemplify how your solution will benefit them personally, how it solves their own pain points, rather than marketing its features or capabilities.
Take this for example: In your web copy, you might state that your product or service is the best in the world. Maybe you’re right, but people still don’t buy it...
Instead, try showing them the value they’ll get from using your product. The time they’ll save, how your product will help them drive more sales, or cut costs, or feel more secure - show them that, and they will conclude for themselves how your product is the best.
The idea of your product being the best will come from their own thinking, not you blatantly telling them. Look at how Trello uses this strategy. Their web copy starts by stating the benefit of their product and what users stand to gain.
From that copy we can see the benefits that they are trying to drive in, working more collaboratively, prioritizing work and getting more done. Now, instead of just saying ‘helps you to be productive’ they show you how productive you can be, by getting more work done. They went a step further in showing their audience how they can work as a team more collaboratively.
To top it all, they give users the chance to try the idea of prioritizing work and working together.
So really, showing your audience what they stand to gain from using your product instead of just saying how good your product is - will create a need for your solution.
This strategy can be applied to any sort of advertising. To get started, try answering these questions:
- What do you want your audience to do?
- How do they need to feel about your product to influence them to do it?
- What benefits do your product features generate that might make them feel that way?
Once you identify these benefits you can show and not tell your audience how these features can lead to the outcome they desire.
People make decisions based on emotions, not logic or facts
Most businesses arm themselves with facts and logic, ready to storm the market and influence people into buying their product. They figure that by using reason to explain their product, who wouldn’t want to buy it, right?
Well, most people won’t. Here’s why:
People make purchase decisions based on their self-interest. That’s emotional. How will the product be of value in my life? How will buying this product make me feel? Instead of trying to feed them with the features of your product, try to tap into the negative feelings they have when faced with the problem you are trying to solve for them, and what elevation you can bring to that negative feeling - turning it into a positive.
They would not make their decision to use your service or buy your product because of logical reasons but because you helped them feel that it was advantageous to them.
If you researched your audience effectively and defined your buyer persona, you can build a vision of their problem implications, with your product or service as the solution.
Stop thinking B2B, focus on P2P
Today people want to know who they are doing business with both on a personal and business level.
Business to business marketing normally feels like you are supposed to put on your business face and leave any bit of humor to your personal life while using complex industry jargon to sound professional.
On paper, that might make sense. But in reality, it really isn’t the case. In the end, we’re all people, and it is ALWAYS Person to Person marketing. We are communicating with people who are part of a business.
For B2B startups, rather than conducting research on businesses, it’s more of connecting and getting to know the people behind the business-: who’s the gatekeeper, the influencer, the blocker and ultimately the decision-maker - all of which you need to get on board to consider your solution.
Here’s how you can focus on P2P:
- Communicate and build trust with the gatekeeper by asking questions about their company. Find out what they are currently working on and develop an interest. By doing this, the gatekeeper would see you are expressing genuine interest in their company
- When speaking of B2B we normally picture it as one entity communicating with another, but rather it involves people like influencers who are tasked with the duties of researching solutions that solve specific company problems. Provide informative content to influencers that show them how you can save their time and provide a convenient solution to the company’s specific problem.
- Today we are not just selling a solution to a prospect, but rather stakeholders who have access to a lot of information and are wary of making financial and critical decisions on new purchases, these are the blockers. Convincing these stakeholders and answering their worries would give you a foot forward into positioning your product as a solution to their specific problem. More-so you need to package your solution as a must-have rather than a nice-to-have solution.
- And eventually, the decision-maker. Who is the one who approves spending money on your product? What is his interest when approving or disapproving a new vendor? If you address each of the stakeholders’ interests, concerns and objections - you are much more likely to reach the decision-maker in a favorable position.
- Personalize or ditch canned responses. Canned responses improve customer satisfaction score and lower the resolution time. That said, using generic canned responses to answer your customers’ queries can really put them off. I for one, once realizing the responses I get from a business is automated with generic replies, with haste I move on to other businesses who can answer my issues based on my specific problem.
- Use social media as a way of having a conversation with your audience, not just another publishing tool. If you get 10 comments on your post - you should be writing 10 replies. Never underestimate the power of direct communication with your audience.
- Strive to deliver helpful, added value information to your audience, not just sales posts about your product or company, but actual free tips and useful knowledge for them. This will position you as a beneficial resource people can come back to again and again and will remember.
- Write for people, not search engines or artificial entities. Read your content out loud. If it does not sound authentic like how you would speak with a normal person, fix it.
Being authentic and open with your audience by communicating like a real person leads to more engagement with your audience.
Focus on the Market Need and your Market Fit
90% of startups fail within a year and a staggering 42% give “no market need” as the primary reason for the failure. But what does that mean? If you have an amazing invention, product or revolutionary service - people will understand that they need it, right?
Well, more often than not - they don’t.
It is very rare for something to massively succeed even though there was no clear demand for such an invention at launch because people did not know they needed it…
A good example of that is Uber. We were so accustomed to hailing, phoning or just catching a taxi, that it became the everyday norm. Who knew we were in need of an alternative on-demand commute method?
Uber was initially launched in San Francisco, to address the local taxi problem and eventually expanded to New York in 2010, proving to be a highly convenient alternative to taxis and other public transportation systems. Over time, Uber has since expanded and become popular throughout the world. With the easy-to-use Uber app, the wide availability, the ability to track your driver’s arrival, the option to rank your driver (ensuring higher quality experiences) and customize your ride - Uber answered a need we didn’t know we had at launch. There is no question, nowadays, that Uber answers a real consumer problem, and provides a solution that has justified its growth.
Having said that, most startups that are lucky enough to be among the successful 10%, are the ones who identify a real problem in the market, address that true need, and create a solution that fully answers that need in a direct manner, and is a “must-have” for that particular market. These startups succeed because they have mastered the ins and out of their niche. It doesn’t mean they are the only players within that niche, but they have identified an area that is not yet addressed, or not well addressed - and they offer something different. Not necessarily better, but different.
People buy stories, not products.
As consumers, with all the different media channels we consume, we are bombarded with thousands (yes, thousands!) of ads every day. So much so, that we have developed what is widely known as “banner blindness”. Try to recall the last ad that affected you into buying something you’ve never bought before. Now, try to think why it was able to do so… I doubt that you bought a product you don’t need, from a brand you don’t know, just because they offered a 50% discount on it - right?
What people really buy is a story. They seek a brand story they can relate to, feel connected to, and that personally touches upon how they want to feel.
Stories develop deeper connections and build relationships. Just like how you developed a strong bond with your best friend, brands can as well connect with their audience through stories.
For prospects who are at the top of your sales funnel, stories are what will bring them in and get them to choose you when considering a purchase. Let’s take a look at Adidas and see how they use stories that instantly trigger an emotion.
They evoke all sorts of emotions from the story. A story with an emotion unlocks empathy in our brain. And it is empathy that will influence our decision on where a relationship will head to. In this case the relationship between an audience and a brand.
Adidas' ad communicates thoughtfulness and caring. The ad is more about what the brand represents to the man and not about their products. Through the story, their brand is remembered and their focus on how this pair of shoes represents freedom to the man and breaking barriers for him, and every consumer in a different manner - is in the spotlight.
Storytelling is not reserved for big brands and costly commercial productions. On the contrary. Storytelling needs to be part of everything you do as a startup. From your messaging, through your collateral, your content, your funding strategy, your go-to-market and your media distribution. Your story is everything.
Whether you are in the formation phase or growth stage of your startup, you can leverage these must-have tips in your growth strategies and marketing campaigns.
Got any other marketing tips that work for you?
Share with us in the comments below.