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10 Things I Learnt While Working With Start-Ups

People connect with people, not with material goods or lifeless entities

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I grew up in the corporate agency world, however I was always fascinated with the idea of growing my own business or helping start-ups to rise off the ground. Eventually, the time came for me to realise this dream! For the last two years, I have worked together with several up and coming Singapore based start-ups as a digital marketing advisor. And guess what? Nothing I knew during my corporate career seemed to work anymore because marketing a start-up is a totally different game!  So, here are the 10 things I learnt while working with start-ups.

Product is King and Queen. Product is everything! Before you even think about marketing your business, you need to be 100% sure that people are willing to pay to buy your product or try your service. Attempt to sell your products or services to a small group of people first before committing to a bigger investment and by all means – KEEP IMPROVING! Rome was not built in a day and neither is your product. Start-ups are all about perseverance. 

You need to be obsessed with your industry and product. The start-up game is brutally competitive. If you think you are going to wing it, you are in for a big surprise. Learn everything you can about your industry, your competitors, your suppliers, your product. Identify your unique selling points and make sure you create a competitive advantage – in practice.

Be the voice and face of your brand. Running a start-up is not only a full-time hustle but also a personal commitment. You need to be the voice and face of your brand on social media and be able to promote daily. Leverage your network, post about your brand and tell your story to the world! People connect with people, not with material goods or lifeless entities.

Your website’s UX matters more than you think. You need to start your entrepreneurial journey by building a great website. Pay attention to details. Make it fast, user-friendly and attractive. The same principles that apply in the physical world apply online. No one wants to enter a messy store or a dirty café – and your website is the same.

Product photos are super important. Whether or not you are into selling products or services, photos are super important. Include at least 4-6 product images, packaging photos, venue photos etcetera. Remember that people will start shopping the moment they find your things worth spending; they will never feel your product until it reaches their mailbox.

Trust is earned – do not take for granted. Unless you are a well-known household name, a famous influencer or an established brand, you need to work extra hard to earn that trust. Think about what you can do on your website or mobile app to establish that trust. It can be endorsements, testimonials, reviews or anything else you feel that will enable people to hit that buy button without second thoughts.

Focus on a few channels. As a start-up, you won’t have the luxury of unlimited resources. You may be a one-man-show or a small team and it’s very likely that your budget will be small. The only solution is to focus. Nail a few channels and focus all your energy and resources on what really works for your brand – do not open social media pandora’s box!

Measure everything. You cannot improve what you cannot measure. Measuring the success of your marketing efforts is super important – traffic, social media growth, sales, revenue, cost per acquisition, conversion rate. You always need to be on top of your numbers!

Move fast and break things. In the start-up world no one can afford to stay idle. You need to always be improving! Improve your website, your marketing, your content, your product. Do not let even one day pass when you are not making improvements, no matter how small these may be.

Be patient. Marketing a start-up is a long, tiring and intense journey. Success won’t come easy – it will only reveal itself to those who endure the race! Consistency is key. And above all, make sure you enjoy the journey!

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Written By

Sotirios (one of the most difficult names you’ll come across in your life), lived in London, Dubai and Singapore, working for some of the world’s leading media agencies (WPP and Omnicom). Along the way he built 2 digital performance departments from the ground-up and worked with clients such as Unilever, Volkswagen and Google. Currently, he is a Digital Marketing Instructor at General Assembly and the founder of XYZ Lab. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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