By Sweta Patel
Recently I had the opportunity to work with a fun and energetic health/fitness startup in Silicon Valley. As a startup-marketing advisor I got to witness why so many startups fail. Marketing plays a huge role when it comes to starting a business. The brains behind this software-as-service project were genius. However, a great product by itself isn’t enough. On the flipside, no amount of marketing can make a horrible product or service gain attention. Here are the five techniques that helped launch and grow this particular startup.
Facebook Ads Are For Customer Learning
Marketing has always been about learning how to serve the customer better. Facebook ads have a way teaching you what you didn’t know when it comes to the behavior of your customer. Many startups mistake Facebook as a way to “make the instant sale” or drive people to sign up to use the product or service. The purpose of Facebook ads should be to help you understand and verify your target audience. The demographics and psycographics should be confirmed with Facebook ads.
For example, we created 300 different Facebook ads and realized that our biggest target audience was from Toronto and Los Angeles. Also, we realized that moms were unreceptive to our ads and the most receptive people were women aged 20 to 25 who just graduated college. In addition, women who were 21 converted three times more than women who were 25. We found out that more people were likely to convert from the West Coast than the East Coast.
Best Practice: Create 50 Facebook ads and focus on five different segments. Then see which demographic, psychographic, gender and age converted the most.
Feedback Is More Than You Think
Have you ever read The Lean Start Up by Eric Ries? This book taught us all about making fast improvements through an “iteration cycle.” Startups have to realize that most people don’t like to give feedback unless there is an incentive involved. Sometimes even when there is an incentive involved they don’t want to give their feedback. We did things differently by actually meeting with our users and incentivizing them with lunch and gift cards. We created events around our early-adopters and made them feel important and involved.
We learned many behavior traits about our users and where they tended to fall off in the funnel. We focused on why they dropped off and made improvements in those areas.
Best Practice: Absorb all the information you can about your audience and find out if they are the right audience. Use sites such as UserTesting and Minimum Viable Concept for more market research. They are cheaper than a market research firm.
What’s Your Message To The World?
Do you even know why your startup solves a problem? Why does your target audience absolutely need this? Why are you so passionate about the startup in the first place? All these questions create the core story. It may seem a little overwhelming at first but we re-tuned it many times. The brand messaging is everything. Why? Because how companies decide to message themselves determines their positioning in the marketplace.
Best Practice: Take your top three competitors and write down the services and attributes they are known for. Then based on that create a list of the attributes you want your startup to be known for. This ultimately will determine the market positioning of the startup.
Don’t Mass Market Too Soon
As mentioned before, startups usually make the mistake of trying to get the mass audience involved too soon instead of focusing on the selected few, and really studying them. For example, we experimented using A/B testing through Visual Website Optimizer and discovered that testimonials make a huge difference. In addition, when we added the number of sign-ups right next to the login more people signed up because they saw that it was a popular service.
Best Practice: Focus on the early users, build case studies from them and feature their stories all over the home page of the website. The more social proof there is, the better.
What Makes You Different?
The marketplace is not getting any less saturated. How are you going to compete? The process known as gestalt allows our brain to categorize things by similarity. Our brains tend to break this cycle when there is a disruption of some sort. This is similar to a Lady Gaga or Uber Car Service type of disruption. It is necessary to differentiate your startup from the similar categories.
For example, our service is the only fitness service for a woman going into the real-world. We changed things up by customizing fitness for this age group, their interests, and their hobbies.
Best Practice: Don’t be afraid to go against the current. It may be tough at first but you will always have a group of supporters.
What was your favorite tip? Please comment below!
Sweta Patel is a San Diego-based marketing entrepreneur whose company is Global Marketing Tactics.
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