Are They Buying What You’re Selling?

by Ahmad Ktaech

3 min read

Thinking about your first big startup idea? Think that designing, building and launching it on little or no resources, time and sleep is the hard part?

Think again.

One of the most difficult parts of the startup journey, and one of the reasons why so many startups fail, is because many ideas fall short of reaching the right audience, consumer, or end user. In other words, most of us will add “Previous Founder of @StartupX” to our bio because our big idea failed to gain traction.

In the words of Gabriel Weinberg, CEO and Founder of DuckDuckGo, “Traction trumps everything.

Traction is generally defined as the product/market fit of your product or service. A good question to ask yourself is: Are they (your audience) buying what you’re selling (your product or service)?

If your answer to that question is “No” or “A little…”, the strategy for moving your answer to “Yes” will largely depend on the ways you promote your startup. Here are some tips to help you use online marketing channels to gain solid traction for your startup.

Tip 1 – Discover Your Audience

I recently wrote an article on my microblog tipping my hat to the startup founders who have failed and lived to tell about it. If there’s one insight that runs through all failed startups, it’s that marketing your product to the right audience can make all the difference in the world. You should start by identifying your customers’ demographics (age, gender, income, etc…), geography and attitudes. At Ebbu, we use this information and match each audience segmentation to a pain-point our app is solving. We then take these groups and research the online channels we’re hypothesizing will be better suited for our marketing efforts. We then build, measure and learn our communications accordingly.

Tip 2 – Build Your Brand

Before you begin telling your audience why they should use your product or service, you need to give them a brand to believe in. Branding matters. Just take a look at Slack, OneDrop or Coin and you’ll see that each of these startups understand the importance of creating, building, and maintaining a strong brand. A strong brand will set you apart from the crowd and should be carried through your activities across all your marketing channels.

Tip 3 – Differentiate Your Communications

There are a variety of online marketing channels to choose from, so use your research from Tip 1 to prioritize which channels are best for your audience. Next, identify your startup’s messaging, tone and purpose for communicating on each channel. Avoid communicating the same way across all your channels. A blog post is different from a social media campaign, which is different from a brand video.

Tip 4 – Start Early

The earlier you start communicating with your audience, the earlier you can course-correct your channel choices and tactics. Use the Build-Measure-Learn (BML) approach coined by Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, to increase your chances of success. Also, whether you’re manually posting or using an automation tool, take the time to develop a plan for your channels that personalizes what you want to say and allows you to listen to what your audience has to say. When it comes to online marketing, transparency can work a lot better than silence. Address feedback and critique head-on and then you can stay in control of the messaging around it.

Gaining traction for your startup can be a tough road in the beginning, but it is one of the most important ways to get an idea off the ground. By harnessing the power of online marketing channels, you’ll have a better chance of connecting with the right audience who can help turn your great idea into a successful business.

Photo Copyright: JMiks

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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