This is a guest post by Liuda Nebozhak from Crello.
Every start-up undergoes some trial and error in its first 1-2 years. Those are probably some of the most difficult and crucial learnings of any new business.
There's a ton start-ups need to figure out, including their own PR and marketing. PR especially plays a key role because as a start-up nobody knows you and you need to get the word out about your existence, your products and the new value that you add in the market.
Our company Crello - which offers a design tool specifically for marketers and bloggers - has gone through multiple trials and errors but we've learned a lot.
We recently announced and celebrated reaching the major milestone of 1 million users over the course of just 20 months. However, it took us some time to find our product-market fit and we are continuing to tweak it to this day. Along the way, we are leveraging our product development with the help of PR, brand ambassadors, and market research, amongst others.
Below are my 5 key takeaways for getting your start-up off the ground.
#1 Quality is not a USP, it’s a prerequisite for any successful product and marketing initiative
Every start-up needs to study its niche and how it compares to the current market. If you think a high-quality product will get you far, think again. Having a high-quality product is a mere stepping stone.
When trying to find their ideal customer, start-ups should strive to offer something that nobody else is offering or solve a problem that no one else can.
In the case of Crello, after gaining a steady user base comprised primarily of marketers, we started considering what our users needed most that we weren’t providing them with yet. That’s when animated designs and video came into focus. Knowing that 46% of marketers use video in advertising already and 26% of the remaining 54% plan to start doing that in the near future, we realized that this was a huge opportunity for us.
#2 Get to know your audience with personalized communication & services
Getting to know your users – who they are, what their day is like and how your service or product fits into their life – is the best way to attract and retain customers. Start-ups need to be responsive to the end user’s needs and accordingly develop the right products and updates. This is especially the case for a product aimed at marketers because their needs will evolve as technologies develop and new trends start to emerge.
The demand for ‘personalization’ is a big trend that we are seeing not only with communication, but also with products and services. A Deloitte study recently found that 36% of consumers expressed an interest in purchasing personalised products or services, while 48% said they’d be willing to wait longer in order to receive it.
#3 Don’t Neglect PR
Start-ups should not forget about the importance of PR and the role it plays in creating brand awareness. Sure, you need actual paying users and investors to get your start-up where it needs to go, but resources should also be dedicated to increasing your brand awareness early on in your start-up’s journey.
Your PR activities need not be solely focused on your product addressing the end user. Study your audience and zero in on the things that matter to them. Work on inspiring your audience and catering to their needs. Word of mouth will do the rest.
#4 Invest in market research for optimal ROI
Experimenting and trying to find the perfect product-market fit is extremely important in the first year of your start-up’s lifetime. This is really the time to make mistakes and learn from them, which is something that becomes riskier down the line.
Investing in market research will help reduce that risk when making certain product-related decisions. It will also support your efforts to differentiate yourself from competitors by finding certain gaps in the market or customer demands that are not being met.
Once you have identified these customer demands, make sure that these are at the core of your marketing strategy.
#5 Find & nurture your brand ambassadors
Start-ups should encourage their users to share their projects and case studies. This will help raise your brand awareness and allow you to take a closer look at the effectiveness of your campaigns. A great way to do this is by creating a dedicated Facebook group where clients can share their projects.
Reaching out to influencers and bloggers to tell their audiences about your product or service can also be useful. Tutorials and reviews work great because they don’t just introduce the blogger’s existing audience to your platform but also improve your SEO.
Embarking on a new start-up in the marketing space is hard work, but if you keep these fundamental tips in mind your hard work is likely to pay off!
Remember, as a starting point, you always need to know your user. Keep refining your USP, there is nothing wrong with that. Invest in PR and market research, and don’t forget to leverage word of mouth from brand ambassadors in order to help you grow your user base and scale your business.