Living in Austin, Texas, you can barely turn around without running into a 20-something technology entrepreneur poised to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey. Everyone wants a piece of that sweet, sweet venture capital seed money. And we’ve heard enough rags-to-riches (or, more accurately, geek-to-billionaire) stories to know that it’s entirely possible.
With the right idea, drive and business coaching, anyone can launch a successful startup. What a time to be alive.
As inspiring as this is, it certainly puts pressure on marketers. After all, without the right marketing campaigns, would Facebook and Twitter be the larger-than-life, household names they are today? Probably not.
To say we’ve got our work cut out for us is an understatement. Luckily, there are a few lessons technology marketers can glean from the industry’s most lucrative startups.
The entire goal of marketing is to set a brand apart from the noise, to make people care. The best way to achieve this is to offer something unique, even if the product or service delivered isn’t a brand new idea
(Note how I said “not currently being solved” instead of “not currently being addressed.”)
Consider Uber, for example. When the company first came on the scene, there were plenty of urban transportation opportunities—cabs, buses, railways and public rideshare programs already controlled the market. But what was missing was a modern, seamless and convenient experience that put the rider in full control. Boom. Now there’s an app for that.
From a technology marketing standpoint, solving a problem can mean adding value in innovative ways. For example, imagine your business has developed wearable health monitoring devices for elderly adults. Although you may not be the only brand in this space, you can differentiate yourself by developing helpful content, like a video series showcasing exercises for active seniors. Now not only are you offering a great product, you’re offering a secondary product that builds credibility and addresses a need in an innovative way.
Search the term “fun company culture,” and you’ll likely notice a common theme: Nearly every result mentions Google. And it’s not by chance the colossal brand is the standard by which all employee perks are judged. The company has never been shy about sharing its culture that includes adult-sized slides, ball pits, unlimited free meals and Innovation Time Off (a program that offers employees at least 20 percent of their work hours to dedicate to their own innovative ideas). Moreover, the culture is rooted in the same values the company has held since it started in a garage in Menlo Park, Calif.
Even if you don’t have a sprawling campus full of game rooms, gyms and gourmet cafes, sharing your company culture is crucial to setting your brand apart. Whether you’re marketing to consumers or other businesses, customers like companies that have a positive culture because it shows that you care about building great relationships. Prospects know when a company’s employees are happy, the positivity trickles down to its clients.
But how can you market your culture in a way that gets prospects’ attention? Take a cue from this Google blog post that showcases Google employees doing something innovative and good.
Remember what I said earlier about how anyone can launch a successful startup? It’s true. But, you’re also much more likely not to succeed. In fact, a whopping 90 percent of startups fail.
(Hear that? It’s the sound of a million hearts breaking across Silicon Valley.)
The fear of failure is crippling. But here’s my glass-half-full perspective: Snapchat, Instagram, Pandora, Fitbit … all of these companies faced the same odds, and all are now valued at billions. If these companies hadn’t faced the fear of failing, how would you share five-second clips of your dog chasing squirrels or track the number of steps between your car and office?
For marketers, the chance of failure is always looming. Your super-creative campaign idea could fall flat. Even after all the brainstorming sessions, late nights and carefully timed launch, it’s possible it won’t bring in a single new lead. But on the flip-side, it could be the most successful endeavor your business has ever seen. It could be a career-defining moment for you, and a game-changer for your company. You won’t know if you never take the risk.
And, if you do fail, remember you’re in good company. Pick yourself up, analyze the data, learn from your mistakes and start working toward your next big marketing win.
The technology industry has an affinity for startups, and it’s no surprise. After all, these fledgling companies often produce some of the most innovative products on the market. As technology marketers, we can learn from startups’ innovation, culture and tenacity. Applying these principles to our marketing endeavors will undoubtedly lead to success.
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