Running a startup is genuinely hard work. On any given day, founders and early employees have to make dozens of decisions that can drastically alter the direction of their company one way or another. Growing a startup is an even bigger challenge; many industry experts expect nine out of every ten startups to fail ultimately.
With an abundance of low-cost and easy-to-use software tools available to anyone with an internet connection, it has never been easier to start your own business than it is today. If you are one of those courageous entrepreneurs venturing out into uncharted startup waters, you might want to pay particular attention. Here are seven all-too-common mistakes that can quickly derail your progress:
#1. Lack of Product / Market Fit
CB Insights, an analytics company, focusing on startups and venture capital, looked at over 100 post-mortems – those blog posts written by founders detailing why their businesses failed – in search of insights into why so many startups shut their doors. It turns out that the number one reason, which was noted by 42% of polled companies, is the lack of market need for their product. This reason may seem like a silly problem to have, but it is more complicated than one may think. Product /market fit can loosely be defined as a situation in which a product or service is satisfying the needs of a market. How do you know you have found a product /market fit? Most startup veterans say “you’ll feel it when it happens.” When your product is selling quickly, organically spreading through word-of-mouth, and being used consistently it may have reached that golden point.
#2. Unit Economics That Just Don’t Work
Put simply; you need to make more money per customer than you spend to acquire and service that customer. If the unit economics do not work out in your favor, chances of long-term success are minimal. Spotify, the behemoth music streaming service, has over 90 million subscribers and around $2 billion in annual revenues. Yet, when you take a closer look at the company’s numbers, it seems to be in troublesome waters, having to pay out well over 50% of revenue to licensees. It is important to understand your unit economics and do everything possible to create a sustainable business model.
#3. Avoiding Customer Development
What do you know about your customers? Did you take the time to create buyer personas for your target market? The proven way to grow a startup is to start with the niche group of people most likely to love what you offer and be willing to overlook early growing pains when your product is not quite 100% perfect. There is an inherent danger in trying to boil the ocean when marketing to your customers. When Uber first launched the on-demand car service could have targeted “all the people who take cabs,” but that would have been too big of a project to tackle so early on. Instead, it focused on young and affluent city dwellers who wanted to “roll around San Francisco like ballers” and spread from there.
#4. Focusing on Customer Acquisition Over Retention
Nearly everyone knows some version of this adage: It costs approximately five times the amount to acquire a new user than to retain an existing one. While the top of your funnel is certainly critical, do not overlook the importance of keeping customers happy and engaged to maximize your marketing efforts.
#5. Ignoring the Data in Marketing
The term “growth hacking” has become popular over the last few years and for a good reason. The title references a new type of startup marketer, one who approaches tasks with a scientific mind, running experiments and iterating quickly to optimize efforts in the name of results. With so many data analytics tools available for websites, mobile apps, and digital marketing campaigns, you have no reason not to measure everything.
#6. Hiring the Wrong People at the Wrong Time
Businesses are only as good as the people who run them, and this has never been truer than with startups. As the company grows, your needs change and different types of employees are necessary. A two-person startup can get away with having one CTO who does all programming, but a 10-person company with plans to launch a mobile app will need an iOS developer and an Android developer. You do not need a Public Relations manager when you do not even have a product or office, but you might need one three years down the road. Start with generalists who can cover the most ground, then grow the team with specialists when you have funding and/or revenue and a distinct need for employees with particular skill sets.
#7. Having an Unwillingness to Adapt Attitude
A pivot is when a startup decides to change a major part of its business and move in another direction. Before Instagram was Instagram, it was a check-in app called Burbn. The founding team looked at how popular the photo-sharing feature within Burbn was and decided to pivot to an app focused solely on that aspect. The idea you had when first launching your company may not be the winner you hoped for, but there may be a better one hidden away. By following principles like Lean Startup, you will be able to make more informed and data-backed decisions.
The first step in avoiding perilous mistakes like these is to acknowledge their existence. Once you have identified and studied potential pitfalls, you will be positioned well to grow your startup the best way possible.
5 Reasons Why Print Is Still Important in the Internet Era
Over the last decade, digital marketing has come to the forefront of most businesses’ marketing strategies. Also called internet marketing, digital marketing is a way of promoting a business over the internet using tools that help drive traffic, leads, and sales. Digital marketing is a broad term that consists of a range of marketing tactics – including search, paid media, content, email, social media, and more.
When it comes to the success of your business, digital marketing plays a crucial role, but this doesn’t mean that the Internet is the only place your branding appears.
While digital marketing and your digital branding are essential and fundamental, there are many times you need print marketing materials to make a tremendous real-world impression. While web pages are often skimmed in slightly less than 1 minute, visually engaging print materials can live in streets, offices, and homes for years. Print marketing can play a vital role in supporting digital marketing campaigns. It is still a very powerful method of advertising, providing a different way to engage the audience, driving an omnichannel marketing experience.
#1 Print helps you reach your target market
In the modern Internet era, everything can be done online from buying furniture for your home to movie tickets for your favorite films. The Internet has revolutionalized our lifestyles. This change is also why businesses are aggressively marketing their products and services online. However, for specific demographics and niche markets, the Internet is still unable to reach them or convert them effectively. Therefore, print publications can still work effectively in such situations.
#2 Print helps you get physical
Unlike digital marketing, print marketing materials are something that you can hold in your hands. You can see, touch and feel them. It helps to create a physical customer presence when you need to come in physical contact with your customers, like in a retail store or at an event.
#3 Print helps you grab attention and build relationships
Engagement is key to a successful marketing campaign. Without it, you would have no point in trying to advertise. Consumers often skim websites in slightly less than a minute. Studies have also shown that people are reading digital platform 20% to 30% slower than they do on printed materials. So if you want your content to be adequately understood from the beginning to the end, a brochure (or any form of print media) is the way forward. Print media is also a trusted form of marketing channel and has a host of content areas: news, information, inspiration, education, special offers, and entertainment. Tapping into print is a great way to start a solid relationship with a potential customer.
#4 Print helps your customers to remember you
Not everyone has their phone ready to look up for your Twitter handle or LinkedIn profile, and who can ever find a pen whenever they need one? Business cards are still relevant in today’s world when you’re networking with potential clients, vendors or colleagues. This goes the same if you have none of the print marketing materials ready for your customers to remember you or your business, it is hard for them to look up for you again on the Internet.
#5 Print helps you develop an omnichannel brand experience
When people are becoming more and more blind to digital advertising, print offers an alternative medium to connect with your audience. It can also help maximize impact around a product launch or announcement by building an integrated marketing campaign that brings the best of both worlds (online and offline) together.
If you take a look at your business today and ask yourself, “Does my brand stand out from others?” If the answer is no, then you will have to do more. 9 out of 10 people that compare brands will go with the one they recognize. The only way to make sure that they can recognize your brand is by getting your brand out in public and making sure your brand is on as many platforms (that matter the most) as possible.
When most people contemplate on diversifying their digital strategy, they immediately think about incorporating some digital method that they aren’t currently using – such as social media platforms, live streaming video, or blog posts. However, true diversification would be to look at exploring a medium that’s different.
Unlike other forms of marketing, print can have an effect for a longer time. And it is a form of marketing that still has a place in an integrated marketing strategy.
So start dipping your toes in the uncharted water and work with a good printing service provider to get your campaign running – and don’t be alarmed if you like what you find and end up diving headfirst into the deep end.
World Marketing Summit: Giving Marketpreneurs the Strategies to Excel in Global Smart Cities
Just after Europe’s Web Summit was over early this month, buzzing with tech startups hoping for the big break that would transform them into the rockstars of the tech, as well as keynote speeches by some of the biggest tech companies in the world.
Marketing Institute of Singapore (MIS) and Kotler Impact, Inc are working together to bring yet another great event much closer to us. As technology advances and cities get connected, businesses are under pressure to be digitally-savvy.
It’s important to understand what’s driving cities to become smarter: the growing ability to use technology to improve businesses and lives as a whole. Artificial intelligence (AI), customized healthcare, robotics, distributed energy generation, and big data are some of the technologies that will propel growth, efficiency, connectivity, urbanization, and optimizations in the future.
The Asia-Pacific region has been predicted to be the fastest-growing region in the smart energy space by 2025 with more than half of the smart cities being situated in China. Looking at a global scale, Europe will have the most smart city project investments due to the European Commission’s interest and engagement in developing these initiatives. Substantially, the European e-hailing market, which at present, bring about revenues of $50 billion is likely to realize $120 billion by 2025.
Having said this, it also means opportunities for marketers to tap on which have the potential to benefit their businesses. Marketers, with the right knowledge and skills, will be able to reach a more precise audience effectively, increase their brand awareness and thus delivering results. However, marketers are facing challenges in exploring boundaries and to get ahead of the trends and ever-changing digital landscape.
For this inaugural summit, World Marketing Summit (WMS) Singapore will be tackling these challenges that the marketers face and share on the “Strategies for Marketpreneurs to Excel in Global Smart Cities” which is in line with Singapore’s Smart Nation Initiative. The WMS is an independent global organization, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, aims to “Creating a Better World through Marketing.” This event is the first time to be held in Singapore, and it is not to be missed!
This summit brings together global leaders and industry experts to tackle the role of the new breed of Marketers – the Marketpreneur, a Marketing professional with the innovative spirit of an Entrepreneur.
Mr. Howie Lau, IMDA’s Chief Industry Development Officer will be one of the key speakers focusing on “Marketing in the Digital Economy.” Notable Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan personalities, Dr. Tan Khee Giap and Lennon Tan, will also be joining the summit to cover “Business Opportunities in Smart Cities for Marketpreneurs” and “Business Leader Discussion with the Teo Chew Poit IP Huay Kuan.”
Date: 12 December 2018
Time: 8.30 am to 5.30 pm
Venue: NTU @ one-north
Register Here: https://wmssea.peatix.com/ (Exclusive Promotion Code: VW)
Simple 7-Step Social Media Strategy to Dominate 2019
Let’s look at the numbers and be honest with ourselves – social media isn’t slowing down, and they don’t intend to. There are more than 1.47 billion monthly active users on Facebook on average, and this number includes an almost 17% spike in two years.
One of the primary benefits of social media is to establish trust and credibility among your customers. If the people perceive your product or service is useful, they will trust your brand, thus making them more likely to buy from you. The University of London also studied the impact of social media on consumers and discovered a positive correlation between trust and perceived value linking to sales.
A sound marketing strategy should drive every action taken on social media. For your business, brand or organization, this channel is unavoidable if you want to create dominance in your market.
1) Define your target audience and build relationships
The first step to develop a strong social media presence is to acquire highly relevant fans and followers. Regardless of the size of your company, before you start investing resources on social media, you need to know why you’re there and who is your target audience.
Solely by looking at Facebook, you have nearly 1.15 billion people scrolling through their feeds almost every day, so it’s important to focus on people who are valuable to your business.
Building trust and your brand reputation with relevant people is vital so that they buy today, return to purchase tomorrow and advocate others about your brand. This logic is the ethos behind a strong social media strategy.
If you want to invest in social media because you plan to sell a product rather than build relationships with your audience, it’s time to pause and reconsider your business model. Although you can sell a product using social media, relationship building still comes first.
2) Choose the right channel
When it comes to the different social media channels, every platform has its own established culture and audience – and they expect users and advertisers to approach their platform similarly.
Spreading your eggs across several baskets will not produce significant results for you. At the same time, you will be wasting resources like time, money and effort. Focus is the key to success.
There are dominant channels for every industry, depending on your audience, type of product or service. What you will need to know is which channels are dominant for your market and focus your resources on winning against the competition in those targeted channels.
In social media, it’s not about quantity, but quality. Doing a few channels well with consistent, highly-engaging content that resonates with your audience is what will lead to conversion or sale.
There’s no single, universal “best social media channel.” But, by understanding how each channel works and you’ll be able to maximize your investment.
3) Determine your objective (Be S.M.A.R.T.)
One of the first steps to create a social media marketing strategy is to set your objectives and goals. Without goals, there is no way to measure your success or Return On Investment (ROI).
As a guideline, each of your goals should be:
Despite this, always keep in mind that while vanity metrics like retweets and likes are exciting and easy to track, it’s hard to prove their actual value for the business. But instead, you should focus on goals such as leads generated, web referrals, and conversion rate.
By aligning your social media goals with the overall marketing strategy. It will be easier to show the value of your effort and get executive buy-in and investment for your social media strategy.
4) Create a strategy
You should always put more effort into your social media strategy to engage your audience rather than focusing immediately on getting returns. Growing the audience and brand loyalty doesn’t happen overnight.
A social media strategy defines how your organization will leverage on social media channels to achieve its communications goals and the supporting platform and tools it will use to accomplish this.
At a basic level it’s a simple statement of intent, outlining the goals and measurable objectives, and the target outcomes you hope to achieve. This strategy is done in the context of the overall business and communication plan so that social media isn’t working in a silo but working in parallel with other channels.
5) Develop valuable content
Engaging content can help your business in a variety of ways. It can set you apart from your competition and help establish you as an expert. Having generated good content also keeps your business top of mind with consumers, providing the leverage needed to keep your customers returning from time to time. Again, quality over quantity will always prevail.
Creating content for social media can be fast, but creating good content takes time and effort. In addition to written content, such as articles and blog posts, you should also consider creating tutorial videos, infographics, podcasts, and other content media to help build brand awareness.
6) Publish and promote your content
Majority of your time is spent on creating good content, but without publishing them, they are useless. When coming up with your social media strategy for 2019, consider what you can do to be more efficient. Having the right publishing schedule can help you save time and push out more content to your audience.
The ability to schedule content effectively also means perfectly timing your posts for maximum likes, comments, and shares. This ability can be easily obtained from the content consumption patterns on various platforms.
As your business embraces social marketing, your social media strategy will likely grow to include social media advertising. Advertising helps to increase outreach to more people outside of your followers based on effective targeting.
7) Track and measure the performance
The purpose behind measuring your effort on social media is to enable you to understand what you are doing that is working and to find out what you’re doing that isn’t bringing you any positive results. One way or another, tracking can help you formulate a better social media strategy.
Ongoing analytics help familiarize you with how your audience is interacting with your updates and more specifically, analytics are the way you get a feel for how your company is perceived on the platform.
Keeping an eye on your metrics also tell you how your efforts are paying off.
The best part about leveraging social media is being a part of the ever-changing technological advancements that this world has to offer.
With the opportunity to innovate at every turn and constant product development happening around the globe, there is an excellent potential for you to engage your audience in new and exciting ways.
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