By Ayelet Noff. Founder & CEO of award-winning PR firm Blonde 2.0., which specializes in publicizing the world’s hottest technology companies.
It’s no secret that we live in an over-saturated ecosystem of startups. With so much competition, how does an entrepreneur make his startup stand out above the rest and really make a lasting impression? Here are a few tips that I’ve found to work for the startups we’ve worked with over the years at my agency.
1. Tell a compelling story.
We are all emotional beings and love a good story. Having a great human narrative of why and how you came up with the idea of your product can make a huge difference. When you are pitching your startup to the world, you are — in essence — a storyteller. Practice your pitch and paint your story with color and wit. The more you help people understand where the idea stemmed from and why you felt it was needed, the more they will relate to your story and be drawn in. For example, we recently told the story of two refugees from Iraq who came up with a new communication application based on their need to be able to freely communicate with their families and friends in severe conditions. The emotional connection that we created with their personal story helped draw people into the app’s story and mission.
2. Emphasize (and re-emphasize) your unique selling points.
What is unique to your brand as opposed to competing services? Explain what problem you are here to solve, and why you are better than other solutions that are already out there. Don’t pretend that you don’t have competition because that’s just not true. Even if you’re lucky enough to have created the world’s first anything, there is still something out there that is similar in nature to what you have created. Know your competition, and learn what your differentiation factors are. Don’t worry so much about others offering a similar product to yours — worry about making the experience you’re offeringbetter.
When we launched Viber, Skype had already existed for a while. However, we made it a point to explain very quickly how Viber was focused on mobile first, and why it was better that Viber used your mobile number as your ID instead of having a username on Skype. Our strategy worked, and Viber was downloaded by hundreds of millions of people around the world and acquired by Rakuten, a large Japanese conglomerate in 2014.
3. Think of your target audience and what matters most to them.
The features of the product that are most important to a potential user are different than the elements that are most critical to investors. Make sure you emphasize the right points to the right audience. The way you should tell your story to a reporter is different than the way you should tell your story to an investor. When making your pitch to a reporter, emphasize your differentiation factors (which we discussed above) and the value you are bringing to consumers. When talking to an investor, emphasize how you plan to grow your user base and how you plan to monetize. This can be remembered by a simple axiom about your message and your audience: It’s not about what you want to say; it’s about what theyneed to hear.
4. Find the right influencers, and give them your product early.
Seek out the folks who have a following that’s specifically right for your product and can help you achieve the awareness you require within that community. You don’t need Beyonce or Justin Bieber using your application in order for it to succeed. It’s actually preferable that you pick influencers who have a substantial following but are not “mega celebs,” who simply don’t have the time to be your evangelists. You want to find those leaders who truly care about the purpose of your product and what it stands for, whether we’re talking about the technology, sports or fashion sectors. Only those types of influencers will provide the ROI that you’re looking for. When we launched the application Yo for example, we first showed it to Robert Scoble, one of the most important tech influencers out there. Scoble helped us put Yo on the map before anyone else had even heard of it. (We share how we did it in this video.) You need to find “your own Scoble” to make your launch a success.
5. Work with a savvy person or team to help you tell and share your story with the world.
You only get one chance to make your first impression. Make it count. Make sure you’re working with someone who has experience in telling your type of story to the right people. Look at their credentials, talk to other companies that have used their services, and go with your gut.
It’s important to note that all the above rules will definitely help you stand out above the rest. However, all of this advice is worthless if your product is not up to par. Your product has to provide actual value, and it has to work well. Even if it does just one thing, it needs to execute it perfectly. Create a good solid product, follow the above tips and you’ll be well on your way to achieving success in making your startup stand out.