The explosion of internet penetration has reached dizzying numbers in the past decade in India. This has led to Online Marketing being recognized as a very critical business channel. Naturally, when a channel is identified so does it see a hightened interest from all participants in any industry. In this scenario; many business owners feel that the “BIG” guys already spend so much on Online Marketing , how will I compete with them being a StartUp.
Should you stay away from Online or believe you can make a difference for your business in the Online Space.
Have heart, consider 1 fact which will help you breathe : The internet is largely a spend agnostic medium and doesn’t really play Goliath’s tune all the time!
What does this mean ?
Simply put, while there is paid advertising on the Internet just like media advertising; the Internet is an ecosystem which lets your “Message” compete fairly and squarely vis a vis a paid message from the “BIG” guys. The key here is your ‘message’ and the ‘users’ who see your message. They are the ones in incharge and not the big $ being pumped in by any player entirely.
So you go ahead and rack yourself ; you have a real chance to beat a Goliath in this medium no matter the size.
How ? Read On ..
First and foremost; you need to validate your ‘lovely’ ‘awesome’ ‘groundbreaking’ idea of a startup and see how much water does it hold in the real world. Ask yourself – Is this what I Love or is this what people need ? This process is known as business idea validation. Run a simple search on the internet for your idea and see what results are being returned by Google and what are the kind of results coming back.
If your answer returns in the former, take a long hard look at your idea again, if your answer returns in the latter: you are largely on the right track. This is because, your idea has a clear , present need which can be brought to life in a shorter life cycle.
Once your startup idea has been validated and has taken shape; time to get it out there and get some people talking about it. Here; a common misconception is that I need to invest a lot of money else who will notice my business in front of the ‘BIG’ guys. This is a thought trap; don’t fall for it.
Surprisingly, the best advertising on the internet is when You are Talked About in place of You Having to Talk About Yourself !
So if your big competitor talks about themselves all overt the place, your job is to focus on ensuring people talk about you in a manner that this conversation is louder than the paid ads of other players.
You are a StartUp and You Don’t Have Bags of Money !
What do you have ? You have the ability to leapfrog your communication unencumbered by any hindrances which make communication slow down.
These hindrances are : Brand Guidelines, Approvals , Communication Styles etc
Consider this;You may not have realized it but when you talk to your friends about your business , there is a certain energy and style in the conversation, right? Deploy it here : Talk straight , Be frank , open and eager to help with a problem for which you have developed the solution. Users are looking for genuine , helpful people who can help them arrive at a solution to their need and are not rigid by thought or action.
The speed , responsiveness of communication that you can deliver as a startup can not always be matched by those who are spending loads of $ all over the internet. This speed of communication becomes a factor when a user interacts with you, consequently they tell a friend to interact with you and before you know it a community starts forming around you. All this can be accomplished with time and effort and does not necessarily require spending a truck load of money for building a presence on the Internet.
You need to concentrate & actually listen to users who are interacting with you; what do they want to know , how best can you answer to their needs. You can also mature the interaction to the point where you would like to introduce them to the paid solution you are offering or invite them to trial your solution.
The effort of creating a community or a buzz around your idea also makes that particular channel sit up and notice you. The channel detects that you are slowly garnering attention within a certain set of users and probably in their network some other users will also like to listen about you. Thereby, a chain reaction aided by the channel itself also begins which starts to further grow your idea’s influence on the internet.
Usually , by this stage if you have an active ‘big’ player in the same space, they will have noticed you by now. This is where it gets even more interesting; you don’t need to cow down and start thinking now I might have to spend on Online Marketing to build my brand presence.
Hold steady and consider this; is a bigger community which has more members a better return for your effort or splashing your brand across the internet more valuable at this stage ?
Tip : Put your money on building the community and network, ask them for referrals, ask them to recommend, review,share your communication. The multiplier of a users sticking to you is any given day more valuable for you and the channel which you are on ; even if the paid ads by other big players are simultaneously present.
Be The Personal Face of Your Idea :
It’s your hard work, blood and sweat which is present in your idea right ? So tell your audience your story. Be the face of your story! Users tend to react more positively to faces and the story which that face brings to them of grit, determination , passion , hard work etc. This is in high contrast to them having to interact with a nameless , impersonal entity which is throwing one way communication at them in the form of a paid ad campaign.
You are alive , personal , active , present and friendly; big ad spends by the “Goliath “ are not. They serve a purpose of aiding recall for that brand but user behavior has today shifted to the overall “story” instead of a long distance transaction.
If your belief in your idea is validated and the quality of your communication is as per what your audience is looking for ; your small words will boom louder than the big ad spends by other players. There will be a time in your business idea life cycle when the conditions will be ripe for you to go ahead and capitalize on Online Marketing for your business but you should focus your efforts initial efforts to build a community around your business with engaging content. This content should be fresh , engaging honest and straightforward. People love a story but not hyperbole!
In our next series we shall talk about some tools which can be used to structure your communication and the channels you should pick and deploy for your business idea.
Did you beat a Goliath in your industry ? Feel free to share your story with us in the comments below and if you like what you read ; tell others about it by Liking and Sharing this post. Who knows your story might inspire someone else. Go Ahead – Share !