Startup 101: 5 Things to Consider Before Launching
Around 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years, and only 25 percent make it past the first 15.Launching a startup means breaking new ground. Whether you’re creating a new type of product or you’re trying to disrupt the current forces that control the market, you need to think carefully about how you’re going to present your new company to the world. First impressions are key when it comes to winning over consumers, and you only get to launch your startup once, so it’s important to make sure you have all your marketing ducks in a row. Use these tips to make sure your startup is ready for its big debut.
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1) Understand Consumer Needs
Before you introduce your startup to the public, you need to make sure that you have consumers on your side. That means conducting extensive consumer research surveys that give you insight into what people think of your products and services. Your release strategy and product designs should be based on hard, tangible data that shows you what the public wants and why. Make the most of your consumer research and refine your products as much as possible before presenting them to the public.
If you skip over this step, you might release a subpar product into the marketplace, limiting your revenue and damaging your company’s reputation before you even have a chance to get off the ground. Make educated decisions as a business owner and listen to what consumers have to say about your company before you launch.
2) Research Your Competitors
When disrupting the market, you need to look to your eventual competitors for guidance. Even if you plan on launching a completely new product into the marketplace, other companies may have taken a similar path. Try to research your competitors as much as possible to find out how they entered the market and how you can improve upon their release strategy. Finding success in any market means going above and beyond your competitors by capitalizing on their shortcomings.
History is always repeating itself, butyou can avoid making the same mistakes as your competitors by doing your homework. Keep an eye on the following market trends when researching your competitors:
- How do your competitors market themselves to the public?
- How does your product compare to those of your competitors?
- At what price point should you enter the market to compete with established market forces?
- What marketing channels do your competitors use to reach consumers and are they effective?
- What assets or connections did your competitors levy to find success in the market?
This will also give you a good idea of what to expect as you get ready to launch your startup in terms of revenue, startup costs and potential setbacks and challenges.
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3) Know Your Marketing Channels
Every company needs to figure out what channels it’s going to use to promote its products and services. But finding these channels means having an acute sense of your target audience, including where they spend their time and what kinds of ads and content they respond to. From YouTube videos to conferences and networking events, you have a lot of options to choose from when marketing your startup.
Considering only 61 percent of marketers believe their marketing strategy is effective, you may need to experiment with your marketing channels as you discover which aspects of your marketing strategy are working and which ones aren’t. Before you launch, you should have a robust marketing analytics program in place to help you analyze the success of every tweet, blog post, ad or video.
Again, you can look to your competitors or companies with a similar target audience to learn more about what kinds of content might register with potential consumers. If you’re looking to market to millennials, social media and influencer marketing may be the way to go. But if you’re a B2B startup that’s looking to make inroads with business leaders, informational videos, infographics and industry events may be your best bet.
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4) Simplify Your Brand Message
Few decisions are more paramount when launching a startup than coming up with a brand message. Every aspect of your marketing strategy should work together to transmit a simple message to your target audience. From helping people stay healthy to changing the way business leaders market their goods and services to the public, your brand needs to stand for something tangible and instantly recognizable.
Having an overly complicated brand message will distract from your products and services. Your brand also needs to look consistent across all marketing channels. Ninety percent of consumers expect that their experience with a brand will be similar across all platforms and devices, including desktops, mobile devices and print ads.
Here are just some of the ways you can simplify your brand message:
- Design an eye-catching logo that visually conveys the message behind your brand. If you sell physical goods, transfer the logo to a label that captures the spirit of your company.
- Create a tagline or catchphrase that quickly summarizes what your business is all about.
- Try pitching your brand to consumers during a marketing exercise and see how they respond. If consumers have a difficult time soaking up all the information you’re throwing their way, take it as a sign that your brand message is too complicated.
5) Prepare to Scale
When you’re launching a startup, the only way to go is up. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re looking to scale up your operations in the years to come as you increase your bottom line and your market share. But not every startup is equipped to handle this transition. If your startup is a success and the orders start flying in, you need to have a plan in terms of growing your business. You’ll need to quickly hire more employees, reach out to new suppliers or distributors and ramp up your company’s digital infrastructure so you can handle and respond to more customer inquiries.
You have your work cut out for you when launching a startup. Addressing all of these issues is usually much easier if you start your company with a clear, direct brand message in mind. Every decision you make should stem from this central theme or idea. Be creative and win over new audiences by researching your competitors, refining your products and brand message and finding the right marketing channels for your business.