The moment you decided to start your own business, you became both an entrepreneur and a marketer, whether you like it or not. The life of a startup founder is filled with pitching to various audiences – from potential investors to potential customers.
Though the audience you’ll be pitching to will change based on the stage of your startup, one thing never wavers – you must highlight what makes you unique however you can.
Even if no else you know has taken the entrepreneur’s route through life, you are not alone. Startups and other small businesses make up roughly 62% of all businesses in the United States, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Likewise, the number of small businesses in the country has increased an incredible 49% since 1982. Approximately 500,000 adults in the U.S. started businesses, either incorporated or unincorporated, each month in 2014 alone, according to a report from The Kauffman Index.
While numbers like these should encourage you that “this can be done,” the flip side of the equation is you’ve got competition – a lot of it.
Therefore, your marketing message needs to be built on three very simple, yet essential ideas:
Here is what I can do.
Here is what makes me unique.
Here is why you should care.
Remember Why You Began Your Startup
Think back to the moment you first had your idea for your startup. It probably wasn’t the first – or even the hundredth – idea you ever had. I’m guessing it isn’t even the first idea that you considered building a business around.
But there was something different about this one. Something that gave you the motivation to move to the next step.
Something that made you take that step, and the ones after that. This was the idea that had legs!
THAT is the feeling you must communicate to every audience you talk to about your business.
After all, many remarkable things were born from that moment.
It ignited your passion and enthusiasm – the drive that keeps you moving forward. It also cemented in YOUR mind what makes the idea so special; the reason it’s the right idea for the right market at the right time.
Everything you needed to convince your most important audience and harshest critic (you) to begin the entrepreneur’s journey came out of that one moment of inspiration. Not only should you never let go of that feeling, but you must also learn to help others have a similar moment of clarity, too.
Marketing is the tool you’ll use to accomplish that.
Make Your Passion Infectious
Again, you’re not just running a business anymore. You’re also a marketer. And part of a marketer’s job is to communicate why your audience should care.
You have a passion for your idea, but you need that passion to be infectious. Talk to people in a way that, when you’re done, they can’t help but hop on board your proverbial train.
The key is to communicate what makes your startup unique, but also what makes it relevant to your audience.
Essentially, you must:
Answer “why is this startup different from all others?”
Answer “why does that actually matter to others, personally?”
Answer “how does that make others’ lives better?”
This can be as simple as creating a Venn Diagram. Break down the benefits your product or service is designed to provide into a series of circles.
That part in the center where they overlap is the ultimate solution with all those benefits – your product or service. This is what makes you special.
Let’s look at a couple of mature companies and how they fit into this model.
Sumo is an excellent example. Check out their home page:
Sumo’s Venn Diagram might look like this:
Now let’s examine Agorapulse’s homepage.
So, their Venn Diagram could be:
Also, always market your startup in terms of: “here is why this will benefit YOU.”
Take another look at the copy on Sumo’s home page. Not once do you see a pronoun like “our” or “we” – because who cares about them?! People care about themselves and how your product or service can help them.
What you do see is the pronouns “you” and “your” again and again. It’s not an accident.
The message and/or medium you use to make this point may change, but the point will not. For some, the Venn Diagram will be more than enough. For others, you’ll need to dive deeper with something like a presentation created with a tool like Visme.
For more market analysis and competitive intelligence tools that help you do your research check this article.
Still, never take the focus off the user. “Here’s what we can do that nobody else can” just isn’t enough to get this job done.
Always remember: “here is what we can do that nobody else can and HERE IS WHY YOU SHOULD CARE” is the message you want to get across.
Remember, playing to your strengths and selling what makes your startup unique is a two-part process.
It’s true that you must separate yourself from the pack and highlight the unique aspects of your startup.
After all, you’re doing something else nobody else is (or, at the very least, in a way nobody else is doing it). Your audience needs to know that.
But marketing success is all about context, and you need to also make clear why your offering is suited for them. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to potential investors, your end-users, or someone in the middle.
Unique is great…but it’s not enough to get the job done.
Take what makes you unique and sharpen your focus on why that matters to your audience.