Street racers might have powerful engines under the hood, but they know that they must convert that power to forward motion or they are just spinning their wheels. It’s all about traction, and it’s the same in business.
Let’s assume you have a great product, the powerful engine that will drive your success. It’s one that fills a need like Stripe did by providing a way to accept payments online or one that inspires a want like the craft beer industry that sold $22 billion worth of brew in 2015.
If that assumption is wrong, then it’s back to the drawing board for you, starting with an article like this one. If it’s correct, then here’s how to stop spinning your wheels and start making forward progress.
The focus here is on growing your user base quickly on the kind of budget most startups have – that is, a limited budget that must be invested wisely.
“Really,” some of you are saying, “He’s going with that first?” Watch this Gary Vaynerchuk video before telling me this isn’t the starting and sustaining principle that will drive your success. “Every minute that you can apply to your game, you need to,” Gary says. He’s lived it in a string of successful startups and to the tune of $160 million net worth that is growing rapidly.
Vaynerchuk (@garyvee on Twitter) says, “I think that people like to claim that they work hard and smart, but they’re not putting in the work. And they work 9 to 6. It’s just not enough.”
What does hustle look like?
Stripe has a valuation of $9.2 billion. For years, and to this day when necessary, the Collison brothers physically set up Stripe for anyone they met who wanted the ability to accept online payments. “I’ll send you a link, and you can call me if you have questions” wasn’t an option. “Give me your laptop, we’ll get you started right now,” was/is their M.O.
What that means for you is:
Y Combinator’s Paul Graham says that those who resist personal recruitment either suffer from a combination of “shyness and laziness” or “the absolute numbers seem so small at first.”
Gary Vaynerchuk has dispelled the first excuse. Graham tackled the second in the same article by showing that 100 users can grow to 2 million users in two years with 10 percent per week growth, from 100 to 110 to 121 to 133 … to 2,000,000. Most companies won’t experience this level of growth. But some will. Why not yours? Hustle!
OK, we’ve covered the essential attitude needed to get traction and a first action, the type of which will produce success.
Let’s pick up the pace.
We mentioned recruiting recruiters. Influence marketing is a proven way to do this. “Influencers have a huge impact on the purchase decisions of the public,” says Shane Barker, digital marketing consultant to Fortune 500 companies. If you can attract big-name influencers as fans of your product, you will see significant sales growth. But don’t overlook what Barker calls “micro-influencers,” users without the name recognition but with something most celebrity endorsers don’t have – expertise and authority in the niche in which you’re operating. Because of their position, consumers view their recommendations as authentic. A handful of micro-influencers might have more positive impact on the growth of your business than one top influencer. The bottom line according to Barker is that, “Micro-influencers offer startups and smaller brands a cost-effective alternative to influencer marketing.” Get your products directly to them or make them aware of your products through direct contact via social media, email, or a phone call.
Having a blog or vlog isn’t enough. Every serious business has one. Using that platform to provide value to your readers or watchers is the key to gaining their trust and winning their business. Educate your readers, and if you can do that in a way that also inspires and delights, many will convert to customers.
Implementing these five content marketing tips will make you a respected authority in your niche.
The bigger your partner, the better, but partnering with another startup is a good start. Feature each other’s products on your website or blog or in your store. Sponsor an event together. Engage in co-branding as Red Bull and GoPro (among many duos) have done. Integrate one another’s apps, as Uber has done with TripAdvisor, Hyatt Hotels, Expensify, and Starbucks. These are a few examples. Be creative, bold, and resourceful in making partnership connections.
Each one is different. This cheat sheet gives you the essentials for success for all major channels.
If you need a proven marketing company to help with this piece of the puzzle, it might be money well spent. According to Steve Olenski, you should be analyzing:
Watch the Vaynerchuk Video Until You Own It
If every post on marketing you read provided one great takeaway that you put into practice, you’d succeed. We just gave you seven.
The first on this list provides the foundation. The rest are the building blocks. Now, go do what Walt Disney recommended, “The best way to get started is to stop talking and begin doing.” And hustle!
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