How can you possibly hope to make your new brand stand out and be noticed, with no branding or marketing experience, a tiny budget and no one knowing you even exist?
It’s enough to tempt you to quit before you start. It can seem like a mountain just too big to climb and I have to be honest with you here, it’s not going to happen overnight. I know from experience. Hiring a branding agency to come up with a mouth watering marketing strategy is a luxury very few new business start-ups can afford.
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder
Almost everything has been done before!
And if it hasn’t it soon will be, so if your new business idea is really unique, the chances are it won’t be for long and you will soon have me-too competitors on your tail. There is a common saying that you may have just six months in the marketplace before someone copies your wonderful new idea.
Back in the day, a start-up could just put out a press release to get the word out. Not anymore. Today you need to ‘be social’. It is difficult to imagine starting up a new business in 2105 without engaging big time with social media, but where on earth do you start? Should it be Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest? The list goes on. So much noise, so little time!
What’s a poor boy (or girl) to do?
First of all, don’t even attempt compete or compare with your major competitors (if you have any). They’re going to have big marketing budgets, they are already established in the market and their supply chain and route to market is tried and tested. But you can do it differently.
Define the ‘Why’
Purpose – The ‘Why’. Every business and start-up knows what they sell and some know how they sell it differently to others but, if you can define why you do what you do, why you get out of bed in the morning (and I don’t mean for profit – that is a result) and, if you can articulate this clearly and succinctly, you have a powerful basis on which to develop your business and brand.
‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’
What has this got to do with my brand?
The ‘why’ is the ‘magic sauce’ that allows the brand to become more than just a commodity, to be an experience that aids the consumer in the decision making process. It also, most importantly, builds loyalty. Research from neuroscience has shown that people connect better with stories rather than just facts.
95% of our decision-making is not affected by conscious rational thinking. In fact, our decision-making is motivated largely by our emotions, our survival instinct and, specifically, our ability to trust. Ultimately a social brand story appeals to the emotional, removes the fear and builds trust.
‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ Maya Angelou
Most marketeers describe and sell their products and their brand with a long list of facts, figures and data – ‘the What’ and ‘the How’. Clever marketeers lead with ‘the Why’.
So instead of using hard facts and throwing excessive promotions at consumers, focus on developing the brand story as a constant motif from which meaningful social content can spring – the experience, the story and the emotion.
Stories create possibilities, possibilities create dialogue, and dialogue facilitates connections.
The goal is not to sell to people who need what you sell; the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe. For example; Apple and Dell are both computer companies,, but they think differently and their customers interact with them differently.
Why? Because the customer and, in Apple’s case the staff, buy into the belief system. They believe and are loyal to the Apple ‘why’. Apple can not only sell you a computer, it can also sell you a watch, an ipad, and a phone. Apple could probably even sell you a car and certainly not the cheapest. Dell will sell you a computer – nothing else, and it will be on price.
My ‘Why’ tip:
Define your ‘why’ statement. It should be short, probably 3 to 5 words – no longer. Once you have defined your ‘why’ make sure you lead with it. It should be the first thing someone knows when they go to your website, see your packaging, read your literature, take your business card and meet you in person.
How? To help you define that ‘Why’ write down every tiny detail about your new product or service; list everything, the mundane and well as the unique. This will create a clear picture of your product.
- Sweat, hard work and persistency. Be persistent. Be very persistent.
- Define your audience. Focus on one main audience for your product and streamline your product to fit that audience’s needs. The more specific the audience, the easier it is for you to identify your unique offering and stand out.
- Get your story out there now! But be honest. Most brands are all too keen on shouting about their strengths whilst keeping quiet about their limitations (and why on earth not? I can hear you say) Being honest about what your product can’t do actually adds value to what it can do thus creating a more honest conversation with your customers and by so doing standing out from the competition.
- Be ready to think differently. Be unorthodox, be bold. Accentuate the difference.
- Don’t try to do it all at once
Keep it simple and manageable. Yes, you want to expand your product offering and diversify as much as you can but all in good time. Don’t confuse and weaken your brand story by trying to sell too many things at once and too soon.
- Focus on one project, product, flavour, title, service (whatever) at a time.
This will give you room to make mistakes and learn from them without it being too costly or damaging for your brand. Customers will not remember you for how many products you have but they will remember one great product and you build your brand on that customer experience.
- Make conversation, not sales pitches
Engage in conversation with your customers. It is tempting and natural to want to sell your product to customers but that’s what everybody else does. If you want to stand out, perhaps do the opposite… don’t sell it at all. Instead have an honest conversation, tell the story and show the passion. A brand conversation will have more longevity in the long run and it will be more genuine.
- Move as fast as you can
The beauty of being a new small start-up is that you can move fast, you can make decisions quickly, you can respond to feedback, you can address customer concerns and make product adjustments very quickly.
Here is a great video from Richard Branson’s Virgin StartUp. Although it is about creating a standout brand for the food industry the main thrust of the discussion is relevant for whatever new business you are trying to get out there and be heard. Worth a watch.