I speak a lot with very smart and creative online entrepreneurs. I wish I had their digital smarts. They come to me though because, much like every other business on the planet, their offering and technology only goes so far; and as with most companies, it’s still a sales and marketing business.
Sat at the other end of their digital and mobile platform is a…person; and people have a lot of choice to pick from when it comes to buying a product or service.
So here are five tips I offer start up entrepreneurs for how to build value with their human customers:
1 – Shift Your Message From Mechanics to Outcomes:
I sat with a bright young entrepreneur just last week and she described to me what her platform did. How it worked. The inputs of her service. The mechanics. The problem with this was that it was painfully obvious; and just not that valuable to the customer.
Instead I asked her how her customers would be better off as a result of engaging with her company; shifting the focus on to outcomes and results versus inputs and mechanics.
This may seem simple, but you may find that when you come to answering that question that you provide more of the same inputs, just phrased in a different way…
So take your time to really define this…
2 – Craft A Compelling Story:
Once you have defined the outcomes that customers receive from working with you, put it through the “so what?” test. In other words, your offering might do XYZ for a customer but so what? Do they care? Or better yet, why should they care?
People engage with and respond well to stories. So what is the story or the journey that you want to take your customers on so that they emotionally connect with the value of what you will do for them? Why is it an indispensable service/product?
3 – Focus On Problems You Solve and Objectives You Meet:
As you craft your “buying story” try and incorporate what problem/s you solve for your customers and then what objectives you meet for them as a result. After all, unless your offering does either one or both of these it is going to be hard to establish value for it.
Think about some apps that you use. Why do you use them? Don’t think about what they do or how they work but the reason for why people (and you) find them valuable.
E.g. why is Uber successful? What problem does it solve?
4 – Sanity Check Your Business/Revenue Model:
Most companies have this one figured out; but others think they do but have over looked a major detail.
As an example, I spoke to a start up advertising app who had an interesting concept for advertisers (clearly from where they wanted to derive their revenue) but the business case and platform didn’t make any sense for the advertiser in several ways. A tweak in the model would have made it highly effective and attractive to advertisers but they still had no strategy for attracting traffic…and after all, advertisers pay for eyeballs!
So sanity check that your revenue model and concept is not flawed.
Tech smarts and business smarts are not the same thing.
5 – Have a Plan To Get Out Of Start Up Mode Quickly:
Start-ups are exciting but often not profitable (initially).
It’s an adventure but a scary one!
Have a strong and clear plan for how to get out of start up mode (and start up mentality) quickly. Easier said than done. But then everything is easier said than done, so just work it out and get on with it!
How can you accelerate out of the blocks early and recoup costs quickly? Can you start pre selling your offering before you launch? Can you seal a decent corporate deal/sponsorship/promotion that can kick-start the business from day one?
Think creatively and think how to get revenue quickly.
Start up mentality can hold you back…sure if you are starting a business then you are start up but don’t let that language and thinking hold you back for longer than is necessary.
The number one priority is to drive sales and revenue asap.
- Stock markets selling off, growth slowing globally – is this the beginning of the next big dip circa 2015?
- Sectors with very high barriers to entry offer tremendous opportunity – if you can capitalise it & see it through – Why? because there is less competition.
- Don’t strap a lame horse to a race horse and hope they both run faster – small business mistake often made.
- Technology doesn’t make the biggest difference in biz. Tear out the people behind the success and the technology wont prop up the profits.