I’m in the process of launching a new startup. The competition there is fierce, with the top company getting roughly 60,000,000 visitors a month. At scale, it has the potential to make $15 million+ in revenue. We’re fighting an uphill battle and I love every minute of it.
Based on my experience, there are specific elements that go into launching a new brand to give you a fighting chance – irrespective of the competition. Here are four crucial things you need to get right.
Branding is a nebulous term that can mean different things. Some people consider it the color scheme and the fonts. Others say it’s about the tone of voice. I think it’s all those things and more.
It’s how people think and feel about your company when you’re not there. Nike is the ultimate example of branding done right. We know it’s a sports brand that isn’t afraid to champion controversial causes and it’s
loved because of it.
For the new startup I’m launching, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time on the colors, the fonts, design, and all of that. More importantly, we’ve gone with a unique brand voice.
We’re the underdog attempting to disrupt. Not with our products alone but with our philosophy towards those products – our messaging. I’d like to compare it to how Patagonia was ethical and sustainable before it
was cool for brands to do that.
The other element that many new startups miss is their positioning and they spend months – sometimes years – trying to figure it out. Once they do get it right, their revenue explodes almost overnight.
Positioning can be hard to pin down but, in a nutshell, it’s who you are as a company and who you serve. For example, most email marketing companies are a great fit for anyone and everyone.
ConvertKit came along and said it’s the email marketing service for bloggers (now creators). It went from $5,000 in monthly revenue to $23 million in annual revenue while landing a spot on the Inc. 5,000 list.
Of course, there were many things involved beyond just positioning. It used a sound strategy that involved direct sales, webinars, and a few online courses.
The point is that when you position your brand properly, direct sales are easier, your webinar hits the mark, and you can create an online course people actually want to take.
Many startups do a few Google searches, assess the market size, give the competition a glance, and decide they’ll capture 10% of the market and call it a day. It takes more effort than that.
When starting my latest venture, I did preliminary research to find out things like TAM, my top competitors, and the common positioning. After that, I built a prospect list, closed my laptop, and started making calls.
I focused on nothing but customer interviews for weeks so I could get a deep understanding of the problems people were experiencing and the most common use cases. This helped us define our positioning and understand if the brand we wanted to build would be accepted by our target customers.
Even if you get everything else right, it doesn’t matter if your product is subpar. People won’t use it. You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles, but the features or aspects you choose to work on have to be good – really good.
This is especially true if you have entrenched competition. If the product isn’t ready, go back and get it right. The first-mover advantage is overrated.
What’s on your go-to list of things when you’re launching a new product or starting a new venture? Let me know in the comments below!
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