What good is a great product that no one knows about?
Or as Philosopher George Berkeley asks “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
It is not enough to have a great product.
Brand recall is so important that corporation budget millions into running campaigns.
As a startup, you cannot compete with big corps, your feeble voice will be drummed out to oblivion even if you tried. But you can key into an echosystem to create the best brand buzz possible.
For the purpose of this post, echosystem will be defined as a system that you can key into to create the best brand buzz possible such that the noise will reverberate in the community over which you wish to exert influence.
You may have been told that the best place to start your brand buzz is your virtual office also known as your website. Well, this is not totally true, except your business is totally dependent on your owning a website, when you are lean on cash, it would be a wiser choice to wait. Instead, you may want to take advantage of the social networks which are free: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, and Linked in are all networks you may want to take advantage of depending on your line of business.
Signing up is just the start. No sooner, have you signed up to a network than you realize that it is called a network because you need to bring people together. You call them friends, fans or followers. These would be the first in the line of your echosystem. You need people that will help you make some noise.
How do you find them?
Start with the known
Start off with friends you know who share similar interests. Find out if they belong to your social network, if they don’t invite them. They will help build a base. In creating an echosystem, you will find that you have to set the tone and pace of the conversation or someone else will and when they do, you may not like what they’ll be saying.
Make Friends with your customers.
Your first set of customers/clients is very important. If you offer very good service they will talk about it. They will become your brand ambassadors. If they are on your social network, reach out to them. Find out things like their birthday or anniversary and send a special message to them on that day. They will be happy you remembered them and may seize the opportunity to talk to their friends about you. You need to be careful though that you do not mix up names or dates. This tweet screams all kinds of tardy
Find the Influencers
Yes, you may believe you are the best thing to have happened in your ecosystem since the first man landed on the moon, but you must acknowledge there are people who have gone down this lane before you. For every social network, there are the lords with influence. You may want to make friends with a few of them. Find them and contribute to conversations they are having and they will reecho your thoughts when you politely ask them to.
Keep abreast of events that are organized within your ecosystem. This is a good way of meeting people who share the same ideas as you do and learning and sharing with them. Always remember to take exchange phone numbers and social media contact information. Be the first to add people to your network, remember, you are the one who needs them. For instance you may want to join one of the growing hubs in Nigeria and actively share in events they organize.
Contribute to ongoing conversation
Use your social media pages to talk about your brand. Remain focused and yet give your page personality. While it is important to talk about things that has to do with your start up and your wonderful achievements, ensure that these will be presented in such a way as to appeal to people in your network. For instance, we don’t really care if you have hit one millions subscribers and therefore you are smiling to the bank. We will be more interested in the process. What business model did you use? Can it be replicated? Also, get involved in conversations that concern other people and the projects they are working on. We already know that people who run startups have oversized egos. Try and keep yours in check.
And then the Website
When you have created brand buzz, more and more people would want to know more about your business and buy from you. They would need to find you online. This would be a great time to build a website.
When building your website bear in mind that everything, from layout, to architecture to design and content, should be built to sell without screaming “buy me”. It would pay to get a professional to work on the content of your website and create a brand story. An experienced content marketer would know how to sell your product with the least amount of words to your target audience in the shortest possible time.
Remember, building a great social network and designing a great website can only contribute to your echosystem if it keeps the customer returning and talking about you. As Jeff Bezos puts it, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends”.
If you are a fan of the chicken and egg joke, here is the best place to insert it.