How to turn your startup into a power brand?

Published on the Fundsup blog.

Growth hacking offers great opportunities for stimulating online traffic and conversions at relatively low cost and risk. And we all know that establishing brain position with end users amplifies the underlying online marketing activities. This basically means that the costs of traffic to your website will go down whilst conversation rates will go up. The main reason for this performance boost is an increased level of trust by a consumer in your brand. But it is also a matter of tapping into the routines that drive our behaviour. Our brain likes to work with what we call an evoked set, which is basically a range of solutions that we like to choose from.

Both trust and tapping into consumers’ behaviour are extremely powerful growth drivers for your brand. And besides driving your online traffic and conversion rates, people are generally willing to pay more for a brand than for substitutes that are positioned around pricing. Multiple books have been written about the science behind brand building.

We can therefore define brand building as a tremendous growth hack. That’s why most businesses strive to become strong brands. There are numerous examples of the power of brand building across all categories. But how can you build a brand around your startup with limited or zero funds? In this article we provide you with three smart strategies that can create massive value to your brand. 

1. Let consumers do the talking

Nobody will disagree that it all starts with a great product experience. Both your product as well your service need to be outstanding. But why is this so important for brand building purposes? It all has to do with creating attention for your brand via your end users.

As consumers are using social media actively to express their thoughts and create an online identity for themselves, they use their experience with brands for this purpose. This actually works in both directions, meaning that negative experiences will be shared as well. This is why customer happiness should be your number one KPI rather than revenues. The reach of your customers’ social media presence can be enormous. And as the credibility of the opinion of your friends is much higher than anonymous media, it also amplifies the impact of the reach that is created. So that’s a double strike!

Creating positive brand experiences that will be shared on social media is therefore a key pillar for brand building. Stimulate and facilitate consumers to do so. But do reckon that consumers are not willing to advertise your brand, but that they use it for their own personal gain. 

2. Create a story that the media do want to share

Being a publisher can be a pretty tough life. It’s hard work. Just think about it how much work it can be to create content that is good enough to get the eyeballs. Remember that eyeballs are the key to revenues for a publisher and that the business model for many publishers is under pressure. And this explains why there is a great opportunity to build your brand with providing publishers with content that adds to their success. 

The number one mistake that most startup entrepreneurs make is that they don’t have a PR strategy that works for publishers. Generally, they believe that news which is important to them is also relevant for the media. Not. In order to get media coverage you do need to have a story that truly contributes to a publisher’s media format.

There are multiple angels that can be used to make an earned media strategy work. Publishing research results is one of the many proven concepts that can work. But you should also think of creating thought leadership around your category so that you represent your business as an expert in interviews. Media formats usually work with experts as it helps to provide a deeper understanding of a topic or to highlight different perspectives.

3. Run no cure no pay deals in traditional media

If you think that you are having a tough time in growing your startup, realise that there are always businesses that have greater problems than you. Traditional media may very well be one of them. The shift towards Google and Facebook has eaten deeply into their revenues over the past few years. And this offers great opportunities for building your brand in a way that fits your business case. As traditional media are seeking new ways to create revenue, running no cure no pay deals is becoming increasingly popular.

The key questions is how to set up a deal with a media partner that is fully performance based. In order to answer this question, it is important to approach the matter from a media perspective. Because as the risk for paying for something that doesn’t create revenues for a startup is nicely eliminated, it does provide a 1:1 risk for a media partner. After all, a media partner will not get paid although it did deliver advertising for your startup. Even if they only use unsold inventory for your campaign, it still represents missed revenues.

The trick of making no cure no pay deals therefore lies in creating a cooperation that works on both sides. It is a joint effort between partners to define the right proposition and profitability. In practice this can imply sharing revenues over a longer period of time. But allocation of sales to a campaign, open data sharing, jointly testing and optimizing creatives and other factors that contribute to a mutual success are definitely important.

Make it work!

Hopefully, I have provided you with the insight why brand building is so important and how to make it work. Please bear in mind that it all starts with a clear and distinctive brand positioning. Your brand positioning represents the basis for everything including your storytelling. And it absolutely makes no sense to disconnect the process of brand building from your other marketing activities.

Actually, it is the synergy between everything that amplifies the impact. In order to create this bonus effect, make sure that all your touch points are consistent. Visually but also in terms of brands promise and other elements of identity. A schizophrenic brand will undoubtedly benefit less from the tremendous power that brand building can deliver to your business.

Interested to learn more about how to build a brand around your start-up? Then join our special Fundsup x Outsmart webinar on Tuesday July 14th at 15:00. It’s free but limited to a small group of founders. 🤞

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