Roy Osing
30 Oct 2017

How to not make your startup unique and special

If you want your startup to be like others and avoid being special, unique and remarkable, practice these five things.

1. Copy what others are doing with the hope that what they do will work for you. 
Most startup organizations are into benchmarking. They search for best practices and try to match best of breed. All this does for your startup is make it like other organizations; yours joins the crowd of "indistinguishables". 
You won't get noticed if you fit in. You must stand-out from everyone around you.

2. Rely on adding product features to create a competitive advantage. 
The strategy of inching a product along by incrementally adding features simply doesn't work. Most market participants try to compete on the same basis which makes your attempt blend in with everyone else. 
Whatever features you focus on or add will be relatively easy to copy by the startup crowd and will not be sustainable in the long run. In addition, it labels you as a technology advocate which are a dime a dozen in the marketplace.

3. Try to use price to get an edge over the competition.
Price competition runs rampant in the business world. Trying to succeed by offering lower prices is a losing strategy. Everyone uses discount price promotions and advertises low prices as opposed to value differences.
Price is the LAST place you want to go and compete. Expect margins to be squeezed and customers to go elsewhere when your prices are no longer the lowest. A "race-to-the-bottom" strategy is doomed.

4. Spread your message to the masses.
The herd believes that if you push your message out to thousands of people you will capture buyers. 
Whereas this approach will likely result in random sales, it's just not a productive use of marketing resources. The return on mass advertising investment is low; pushing a single message to a population will get some hits but overall will never result in an impressive payback.
And it won't create a loyal stable of advocates for you and what you stand for. Loyalty is earned by building long term relationships with people by having one -on-one conversations with them. 
Target your communication to specific individuals and make it personal. 

5. Hard sell your products and services.
The most common marketing strategy is to push products and services which is basically saying that most organizations see themselves as being in the business of supplying technology. They have something they think is good for you and they flog it. They stress features and a narrow set of benefits. 
Get into the value creation mode if you want to leave your customers breathless. Think about their wants and desires and create a package of value to satisfy them. 
Treat them holistically. Look for opportunities to make their lives easier. Happier. More enjoyable.

Most startups use these tactics to launch and try to sustain their enterprise but they rarely work well enough to prevent failure. 

If you want your startup to at least have a fair chance of success, create unique and relevant VALUE for individuals.

Roy Osing (@royosing) is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead


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