If you own a startup, pop those innovation pills right away

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Being an entrepreneur is a tough job. No one can deny that. Especially so, when you are a newbie in the entrepreneurship game and have just given birth to a startup. Entrepreneurs need to take some fast and effective steps to get a startup established and polish the offerings and solutions to a form that spawns customer demand. They have to anchor value in their offerings with respect to novelty, excellence, and usability, even with the insufficient assets and finances they start out with; moreover, all this has to be achieved amidst the tug-of-war that they walk into with the industry competitors.

Many entrepreneurs don’t seem to be able to figure out the “right” course to take to grow their businesses. Luckily, one course that seems to be working for many startup owners is innovation in marketing.

Building on the basics of marketing

Although startups are sprouting all around us these days, they do not appear to be sticking to the “conventional marketing guide” or pulling out tried-and-tested ideas to promote themselves. Over the years, startups have proven that their marketing basics are solid as rock and nothing can shake them. Additionally, it seems to have been repeatedly hammered into all startup entrepreneurs that they need to have a mission statement in place that they need to follow like the holy Bible. Despite finding the “right” audience, developing spectacular content, and promoting their offerings across all channels possible, they feel the need to do “that something more.”

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What all this calls into question is the need for some novel marketing strategies that redline the startup from rival companies and encourage customers to approach the startup in question instead. In reality, this is a very ambitious objective to have, but once you—as an entrepreneur— have mastered some tactics, it will definitely appear to be more achievable. Maybe the following examples will prove to be an inspiration?

 

Celebrating uniqueness with marketing: Some cases to learn from

Mailbox: This mobile email service – unfortunately – breathed its last in February this year. Although the ultimate fate of the startup is not worth mentioning, it did manage to make a splash and grow steadily since it started a few years ago. Whether or not it was as successful as Dropbox, it created a demo video quite similar to the one Dropbox created during its launch. This Mailbox video was quite appealing and went on to draw 100,000 views in under four hours after its release. What worked for Mailbox is that, simultaneously with the video, it ran the count of the number of other users on the waiting list trying to get an address on the service. The strap-line used? “Get on this list—and fast.” Within slightly more than a month, Mailbox had a million users registered and earnestly awaiting the commencement of the service.

Uber: As of May 28, 2016, this multinational taxicab and vehicles-for-hire service provider has its network spread across over 66 countries now. But this company started fresh a few years back and grabbed the attention of its prospects by simply offering gratis rides during a well-known conference in Austin. That’s how they ended up being tried by a huge chunk of their target group within that same week. What got their (now-faithful) customers to call Uber “cute” was how the company started delivering roses for the customers’ spouses and “special someone”s on everyone’s favorite Valentine’s Day!

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Groupon: Not to be forgotten here are the innovative marketing tactics used by Groupon (referred to as NearBuy in India these days), a global ecommerce marketplace. The company is not just another one of those ecommerce sites on the market today. Groupon has always clubbed all deals on its site with an added deal known as “Refer a friend.” Here’s why that helped: The deal helped customers to earn an additional $10 when their referral made their first buy. Used in this way, this strategy offers absolute value for both customers and prospects, adding to the total virality of the concept. With “Refer a friend,” Groupon has enough reason to be jumping for joy as it seems to be saving the company considerable money in promotions!

Marketing is the key

Entrepreneurs never get desperate. They just get more innovative with their marketing. If you have a startup that currently requires nurturing, just keep this Guy Kawasaki quote in mind,

“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.”

One way or the other, marketing is key.

Do let us know your thoughts too. Just drop us a line in the Comments section below and we can, maybe, have an engrossing discussion? Till then, happy marketing!

 

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The investment scene is going to be even more relentless in 2016

 

 

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My team did some detailed analysis on the potential investment scene one can expect to see as the rest of 2016 slowly unfolds. And it’s not going to be anything like the economy expected!

Startups were drenched in investors’ money all of last year. The inconsistently playful stock market, however, is now making the investors work more carefully toward the startups they want to invest in. The total amount that investors would be investing is estimated to drop by a quarter of what it was last year.

So, what are some of the investment trends we foresee? Let’s explore!

Education: Does it matter?

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Will educational qualifications be that important when you evaluate startup founders? That’s a big NO.

Take any successful new venture and it’s probably the baby of a high school dropout. Ultimately, all that matters is the idea behind the company. Is the concept fresh and promising? Then, you’ve just struck gold! The universities or schools the founders attended will not be used as a criterion for judging the potential of the startup either as, in reality, startup ideas are being conceived equally well by the minds of many innovators, be that of an ex-MITian or an ex-IITian.

The fate of the investees

Indeed, many of the startups get acquired within a couple of years. And really, isn’t that the ultimate dream of the founders?

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Some of the startups do stumble and crash. Things to watch out for are overexpansion and blind competition.

Then, there will be those who go public. How do they perform right after that? We’ve seen some pretty dismal performance for most IPO-based companies. So, is it really a good route to take? That’s quite a gamble in itself!