Why does your startup matter to me?

It’s a fundamental question that has to be answered, otherwise you’re just another startup struggling for attention.

In creating messaging for clients, it boils down to telling consumers why they should care about your product.

startup customersWhat’s in it for me? How will it change my personal or professional world? What’s the value in using your product?

When looking to answer the “why does your startup matter?” question, startups need to be customer-centric. When looking to spark a relationship, the benefits need to be highlighted instead of  the product.

Too many startups aren’t clear about why they matter for a variety of reasons, which include:

  1. Their messaging and marketing is focused on a product’s features and price. The problem: This fails to resonate with consumers because this information is table stakes. It is not how a startup differentiates itself.
  2. They don’t know their customers well enough or they lump them together in homogenous groups. The problem: This ignores the reality that consumers have different needs and interests, even those who look similar.
  3. Their messaging is bogged down by industry colloquialisms and jargon, rather than words easy to understand. The problem: consumers are moving quickly so they need to digest information easily.
  4. There is a misplaced belief a good product is the best (and only) marketing and sales tool. The problem: Even superior products will struggle to find an audience without messaging about the value being delivered and the audience being served.

So what’s the better approach?

From a high-level perspective, startups need to be clear about why potential customers should care about their products. It means taking a customer-centric approach to everything because, after all, there is no business with customers.

A key part of this approach is developing and maintaining buyer personas. These are important because buyer personas deliver valuable details about different kinds of customers – titles, responsibilities, aspirations, goals, fears, education, demographics, etc. This insight provides startups with a roadmap about how to develop marketing and sales that makes an impact and, as important, moves potential customers into the sales funnel.

But wait, there’s more: it is also crucial for startups to engage their customers so they have a steady flow of information. This happens in different ways – surveys, telephone calls, meetups, VIP events, conferences, user groups or customer service discussions. These methods can give a startup  insight into how a customer’s needs are changing, how the product isn’t quite meeting their needs, or whether a competitor is attracting more attention.

Startups need to show they matter to customers because there is too much competition to be unclear, unfocused and obtuse. If your product doesn’t speak to the needs of customers, they will move on to a rival that does. When the competition is one search or click away, you have to give it your best shot.

Here’s an exercise for startups curious about whether they pass “why do you matter to me?” test. Take a look at your marketing and sales collateral – Websites, sales sheets, videos, case studies – and then ask yourself if the language reflects the needs of the customer rather than what you believe you need to tell them.

This can be difficult because there are inherent biases when you look in the mirror. If you can’t be honest with yourself, ask a third-party who doesn’t have a vested interest. Be prepared for comments that are negative, surprising or troubling because most startups aren’t good at messaging.

However you do it, it is a valuable and instructive way to discover if what you’re saying matters to customers.

If you’re looking to jump-start your startup marketing, I can help you make it happen. If you want to improve your storytelling, check out my book, Storytelling for Startups, that delivers tactical insight to create compelling stories on your Websites, case studies, videos, etc.