When building a tech start-up, entrepreneurs dream of disrupting the market and ultimately achieving unicorn status. Attaining these ambitious goals is far from simple, and depends upon a start-up communicating its credibility within the industry. The UK start-up landscape is highly competitive, with the tech sector currently expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy, according to Tech Nation’s 2018 report.
This means that marketing teams are under ever-increasing pressure to deliver and to help carve out a niche for a start-up ahead of competitors.
Ensuring your start-up has an effective marketing strategy that delivers on your businesses key growth aims is crucial, so here are some top tips to help start-ups grow trust, build reputation and ultimately keep pace in an ever-evolving business landscape.
Don’t lose sight of what the customer wants
It’s important to fully develop your product knowledge even though your role in the company is not as a software engineer or data scientist. A thorough working knowledge of technical concepts means you understand your product better and can more effectively communicate it to customers after all, if you aren’t thoroughly bought in to the concept your start-up is selling, how will you persuade others to do so?
However, you need to ensure you don’t lose sight of why you are there. As a marketer, you should leave the abbreviations and tech-centric jargon for internal discussions, and avoid bombarding your customers with a language with which they are not familiar. Wherever possible, try to listen to your customers and develop your message accordingly. This doesn’t mean talking down to customers, but simply keeping in mind what they are asking for, and ensuring your start-up matches up to this.
The people are as important as the product
Building a presence in the media is one of the best ways to grow your profile as company within the industry. The size of your profile is therefore a key measurement of marketing success, and can be grown most effectively through PR.
Your PR strategy should be human. This may come across as obvious advice, but this is frequently ignored. Ensure that your communications retain a sense of the author’s personality, so that your material has a better chance of achieving cut-through. It’s important to steer away from representing the company as a faceless corporation in the media, as customers won’t be able to easily relate.
Consequently, you should take advantage of the myriad of experts your company will be comprised of and bring their stories to a wider audience. Work with them closely to discover the areas they feel comfortable discussing in the press and how they wish to construct their brand. Don’t try to limit their creativity or steer their thoughts overmuch, as you need a sense of authenticity to come through.
Go deeper than social shouting
The long-standing mindset of ‘I want what they’re having’ or ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ has been magnified by the proliferation of social media technologies that grow viewers beyond the next-door-neighbour to a global audience. This ‘fear of missing out’ or FOMO culture is only continuing to expand, permeating most of the millennial and Generation Z worlds and serving as a key driver in markets. This has accelerated the pace for Word-of-Mouth marketing, which creates trust around your company and is a comparatively low-cost strategy in marketing.
The same social proof technique can be applied in a business-to-business (B2B) landscape too, though you should make sure you are not ignoring other approaches to social shouting, which might be more effective for your business. For example, hosting roundtables can help with the construction of business communities and assist with strengthening relationships among key stakeholders, while also serving to build your reputation within the industry. Learning to know your audience better is integral, and once you begin to make an impact, this will only continue to grow.
Don’t follow the crowd
Too often start-ups believe that attending big events in the industry is key, and that they must emulate the actions of the tech giants. However, these established major players have a big budget, and for a young company, this can quickly become a costly and ineffective tactic, and one which also means you’re highly likely to be drowned out in the crowd.
Look for what works for your audience. This might involve attending a conference or event that occupies more of a niche area of your industry, hosting a workplace, or putting on a technology demonstration. These tactics might be more useful for your start-up in making a splash within a smaller group of industry decision-makers, and helps you to better grow to know your target audience on a more personal level, build your network and develop trust in your product or service.
In a growing industry, getting your voice heard as a tech start-up can be a challenge, and communicating what you do is often over-complicated by poor marketing strategies. Marketing is more than simply driving awareness and moving people through your marketing funnel from prospects into converted customers, it’s also about being human and developing longer-lasting and more meaningful relationships within the industry.