New businesses often count on being original or cutting edge to get ahead of their competition and to thrive. Unfortunately, that same quality of newness means the brand is still somewhat unknown.
With the uncertainty and riskiness of new businesses, the startup stigma tends to follow new companies around like a bad smell — assumptions zipping around like flies: The startup will never make it. You can’t trust it. It isn’t stable. You shouldn’t take it seriously. A company with more experience is better.
So, how do you present your business with confidence and demonstrate that your brand is worth taking seriously? That your business shouldn’t be lobbed into the ever-growing pile of failed startups like a bag of yesterday’s trash being hurled into the garbage?
The truth is that you have more control over your company’s reputation and trustworthiness than you might realize. You can, in fact, combat the startup stigma and build trust in your brand.
Don’t be faceless — connect with your audience.
To build trust in your business, people need to get to know your brand. If your company seems like just another face in the crowd trying to sell a product or service, people aren’t as likely to take you seriously — even if they want what you have to offer. Making the effort to connect with your audience and putting a face to your brand humanizes your business and makes it more relatable.
A great way to do this is to share your story. Let people know who you are, not just what you are. Tell them what inspired your business, what makes your brand different and what its purpose is. Go a step further by using social media to show off your brand’s personality. Post pictures of your employees, bringing to light the caring people behind the scenes.
Your brand should have a personality that people gravitate toward, just like they would a person. As the co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight, has been quoted as saying, “Good businesses are good citizens.”
Match your marketing strategy to your niche audience.
Finding your niche goes hand in hand with connecting with your audience. It’s almost impossible to connect with your audience if you’re pitching to the wrong group of people.
Find your niche and stick to it. Once you’ve done that, match your marketing strategy to this audience by finding ways to be relatable, reachable and reliable.
Research your niche audience and determine what they like to do, what blogs they read, where they shop and what trends they’re interested in. Appeal to these interests by creating relevant content for them to eat up: blog posts, social media updates, newsletters, etc. The more content you produce, the more opportunity you have to appeal to them.
Note that part of appealing to your audience and creating relevant content is understanding their preferred language. If your niche audience is professional and geared toward other businesses, you’ll want to generate more professional and informative content as well as create a professional tone for your brand. If your niche is more casual, such as a millennial clothing line, you’ll want to be less formal. For example, you could do this by utilizing popular slang, throwing in occasional emojis and using social media to advertise.
Again, remember the three R’s: relatable, reachable, reliable.
Master your elevator pitch.
You’ll want to be prepared with a pitch that is brief and to the point — only lasting 30 seconds or so — that you can verbalize at a moment’s notice. This way, you can leave a lasting impression even if you’re in a hurry.
Think of your elevator pitch as a snack. You’re giving someone a bite-sized piece of your business. You want it to be short, sweet and easy to swallow.
Use your elevator pitch to highlight what makes your company different and what you bring to the table that no other business does. It should have an edge of personality to avoid sounding like a bland, generic speech you could rattle off in your sleep.
Don’t be cheap with your design.
Your business design is part of the face of your company; it can’t afford to be unattractive — your website specifically. If you have a poorly designed website, your brand will seem unprofessional and untrustworthy.
Take the time and the money to develop and invest in a sleek website design that loads quickly and is easy to navigate. You should want to entice visitors to learn more, not send them rushing for the back button.
Take your online reviews seriously.
Word-of-mouth advertising isn’t dead. Now, it’s just in the form of online reviews. With the internet making it so much easier for consumers to connect, people are often turning to their virtual peers to help them decide who to do business with.
Especially as a new business, online reviews heavily influence your online presence. Manage your online reputation by reaching out to review sites to claim your business profile and to ensure they have the correct information. And if you’re not on their site already, ask to be added. Some review sites even offer tools that allow you to manage and reply to your online reviewers so you can let consumers know that you hear their feedback and their thoughts are important to your business.
Ditch the generic email address.
Finally, having a generic email address for your business makes it too easy for people to disregard you as an underdeveloped and disreputable company. Replace your regular email address with a business one that includes your domain. It’s inexpensive and it not only looks professional; it also promotes your brand.
Don’t let people write off your company simply because of the startup stigma. Show them your business is worth taking seriously by implementing the above tips and turning the buzz around your company into a positive one.