Learn about what to do at the Startup Stage

Congratulations for getting this far! Starting a business has taken a lot of effort. You have gone through the process of researching the market, understanding the needs, creating the products or services, and building a brand that stands for something meaningful. You have registered your business or formed a company, you have a business bank account and you need to line that bank account with money – lots of it. So what do you need to do?

At this stage, getting the word out to the market is crucial. You need to establish your presence in the market place, and you need to build a customer base. Over the years, marketing relied heavily on advertising to promote the business. Advertising worked very well in the era of scheduled programs and shows. TV viewers would watch their favourite TV show during prime time and media owners would charge a premium for placing advertisers’ commercials at that time. Listeners would tune in to their favourite radio station while driving to work and back home, and advertisers would place their radio ads during the morning and evening drive times at a prime rate.

However, media consumption has changed a lot in the last decade. With the advancement of technology, streaming was introduced and consumers can engage with content at their convenience. Streaming made viewing content possible at anytime. And because of the internet, content can reach people anywhere without being subscribed to a particular service or device. Furthermore, with open platforms and social media, content creators are no longer limited to just big movie studios and production houses. A person with a smartphone or a camera and a whole lot of creativity can create content and publish it.

What this means is that consumers have access to a lot of content, and they can view it whenever they want to. They can choose the content they want to watch at the time of their choice and having advertisements pop up during this time is disruptive and irritating. All of us can relate to tapping on the bottom right of the screen at least five times while waiting for 3 seconds to pass, right? If for some reason the first few seconds of the video caught your attention, you would watch the entire video. After watching the video, even if you were slightly curious or interested, you would still search for it and look for some reviews and form your opinion rather than take the word of the advertiser because they’d say anything to get a sale, right?

So what happens when you are on the other side – the selling side? What can you possibly do to get your potential buyers to know about your product and consider buying it? Remember, at this stage, your priorities are to establish market presence and create a customer base. Here comes content marketing – a way to build a relationship and along the way gain the trust of your potential market so that you can convince them to buy your products or services. 

Content marketing is the opposite of product marketing. It shares useful information about a topic, shows that you’re good at it, and that you care about it. It creates a positive brand experience. You need to create good and relevant content for your audience. Good content because it is useful to them and relevant because it is meaningful to them. How do we do this?

To run a good content marketing campaign, you need understand two things – what is your potential buyer going through and at which part of the journey they are at. You already know who your target is because you identified them when you did your Business Model Canvas in the Seed Stage. Dive deeper and think about what they are going through and what you could say or show to connect with them. Choice of words and visuals will have a different impact on different people. Knowing basic personalities will be helpful in crafting your content. The Big Five, which can be remembered through the acronym OCEAN, is a good start.

O – Openness – how open to new experience versus familiarity 
C – Conscientiousness – how controlled or measured someone is in contrast to spontaneity 
E – Extraversion – how much you enjoy company versus being alone 
A – Agreeableness – how much you value cooperation and harmony versus independence 
N – Neuroticism – how anxious or emotional versus being stable

Understanding personality types help you create good content. But you also need to know where to place the content and when to place them. Remember the by-gone days of primetime advertisements? Now is the time of digital marketing, where you reach your audience where they are at, at the time they are there. Your content has to be placed at the right place, at the right time with the right content.

We already understand the buyer, their needs and the content. So now we need to look at where they are along the journey as a buyer. A customer journey is the whole process from when a potential buyer first gets to know about you up till the point they make a purchase. It always starts with awareness, which is the top funnel, and ends at the purchase stage, which is the bottom funnel. All digital marketing efforts at this stage need to be focused as budgets are limited. While some businesses make it to the next stage, the growth stage, most businesses remain at a survival stage where they get enough business to survive and eventually the owners burn out.

You need to be precise with your campaign targeting, traffic building, lead generation and conversion optimization to establish market presence and create a customer base.

Sprout some ideas?

Time to plant a seed.