Getting Your Startup Off the Ground
You know you have a good product, but before you can convince people to spend their hard-earned money, you have to get your name out there. In other words, customers need to know that you exist. This is certainly a challenge, but it’s surprisingly straightforward.
“Building a brand from the very start is simple so long as you keep ‘the three C’s’ in mind: clarity, consistency and constancy,” entrepreneur Adam Uzialko writes. “That means building a clear, coherent story that does not contradict itself or your business operations, and then disseminating that story far and wide to your target audiences.”
When getting your startup off the ground, it’s best to start local and branch out. By building brand awareness in your immediate community, you automatically generate credibility that can then be leveraged as you move into other markets.
You’ll need to develop a unique strategy that fits your brand’s flavor, style, and objectives, but the following tips will help you introduce your startup to your local community:
- Understand Your Audience
It all starts with an intimate understanding of who your audience is (or at least who you think your ideal customer is). Until then, you’re essentially throwing darts blindfolded, hoping one or two hit the mark.
Identifying your audience requires you to reverse engineer your products. Start by asking yourself one simple question: What pain point does my product solve? Once you’re aware of the pain points your products solve, you can then develop customer profiles of people who have these pain points. This is your audience.
- Attend Local Events
Local events – whether conferences, concerts, sporting events, fairs, etc. – should be used as opportunities to really make some noise and interact with prospective clients in a one-on-one manner. Remember that people don’t know anything about your brand, so really prioritize relationship building.
You want to be memorable. Wear name badges that incorporate both your name and the brand’s logo. This draws a personal connection and increases the chances that people see the brand in a personal light.
- Hand Out Free Swag
Promotional products – also known as “swag” – are highly effective for startups. According to research from the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA), 66 percent of people say they can recall the brand on the promotional product they received within the past year. The majority of people (87 percent) keep promotional items for longer than a year, while more than half (56 percent) say their impression of a company changes after receiving such an item. One thing I’ve found useful to bring if I don’t have swag is bringing office snacks.
When you attend local events, always try to have some free swag on hand. It’s best if the swag is relevant to your brand, but sometimes the most important thing is visibility. Slapping your logo on something that an individual will keep and use can promote brand awareness in ways other methods simply can’t match.
- Partner With Trusted Businesses
Building a brand is all about establishing trust. If people feel like they can trust you, they’ll be more willing to invest time and money into your brand.
When you have no credibility, trust is hard to come by. One of the more effective ways to establish it is by partnering with local businesses. There’s power in association and you can cultivate positive emotions in your audience by linking up with companies that already have local ties. You can do this directly – by forming partnerships – or indirectly, through something like a sponsorship.
Make Your Startup Known
Brand visibility is an integral part of early startup success. Before you build a customer base, you have to get on their radar. By beginning with your local community and branching out from there, you can scale up in a smart, sustainable manner.