The Top Secret Sauce of Going Beyond Unicorn

Alex, PR manager - May 10, 2016
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Damn, your product is awesome. With a solution like that, the sky’s the limit! Right? Then why on earth are you getting so little credit?

You have the idea, the funding, and your dream-team. You work together on a shared goal. You’ve invented something outstanding. Something revolutionary. An actual innovation (the real one, without an “i” in the beginning)!

And you still don’t have enough users, leads, prospects or buyers.

Does this sound familiar? I bet it does.

The bitter truth

The reality is that people just don’t care about innovation. No one does. 99% of them are too self-obsessed to care about something beyond likes on their selfie.

That’s why 90% of all startups fail. The reason for these failures is not branding, not marketing, nor a failed attempt to deliver value. People’s ignorance and self-absorption are the only reasons why great things are not achieved.

Luckily, you have what it takes to make a difference. So heads up and ready the saddle. We are about to ride that Unicorn!

How things work in the internet

You want to get noticed. You imagine that as soon as your brand is online people will see the brilliance of your idea, which will trigger a rapid switch to your service or solution. You are sure that once word of mouth enters the game you will get even more satisfied customers.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, I hate to break it to you, but the internet doesn’t work like that.

If anyone says all it takes is getting published out there – don’t listen to them.

Reality check here: people just don’t care enough to read, learn and share value unless guided towards these decisions. Unless proven new things will work FOR THEM (personally, not as something that improves lives within communities).

Your business has to prove you represent something clear and mutually beneficial. By the way, you have less than ten seconds to do it. How’s that for a challenge?

Thanks to evolution, our ability to adapt, and the way internet bombards us with content, humans now have an attention span shorter than goldfish.

Eight seconds. That’s the amount of time you have to explain your entire brand to a person while online. Eight seconds determine your success or failure. Accept it.

Trust issues

Did you know dolphins have blue tongues? Did you know they can send distress calls on high frequencies that only other dolphins, some dogs and really advanced tech can pick up?

I guess you didn’t. Because it’s a complete lie I totally made up just now. And posting it on the internet does not make it true.

That’s exactly why people have severe trust issues with internet content. And a skepticism for everything new and potentially awesome.

The internet is filled with fakes and trolls. Thus, we’ve gained the fantastic skill of not trusting everything we see.

That’s exactly why simple online presence and a Press Release now and then are not sufficient to skyrocket your brand towards success.

Making your start-up unicorn honey-sweet

So what is the secret sauce to cook up a Start-up with?

All you actually have to do from the business and marketing perspective is break through the eight seconds span. But that is not an easy task.

If it was, we wouldn’t see 90% of start-ups failing.

Many people believe that being interesting and innovative should be enough. Well, it’s not. Just think about the store you go to for shopping. Is it really better than other stores? Does it give you a better deal in at least 6 cases out of 10? Doubtful.

Going there is merely a force of habit. It got you after the first time you were there by satisfying your shopping needs. But, the real magic happened earlier. Way earlier.

You’ve probably heard a reference from a good friend about a cool new place with awesome stuff. It was near your home or work and you decided to stop by.

It probably wasn’t the same day you had the talk. But, at one point where you needed some goods, well, things just clicked in your mind. And you decided to check out the shop.

The award winning trigger here is trust – the reference you’ve heard from a person you already know and have established connections with.

Trust helps you to break through the eight seconds. Maybe not from the start, but it definitely does the trick in the long run.

That’s why you need to find brand advocates – people who will do the hard work for you. People who know other people. People who spread the word of mouth. And they do it in the best possible place – your audience’s natural habitat.

Know your audience

Don’t just market or sell stuff to people. Nobody likes that. Especially considering you might become one of them. You can unite spiritually close people and contribute to a community. Here are some pro tips to do just that:

Who are they? Your start-up is a solution to someone’s need. A helping hand in desperate times. In some way, you are a client-centric service.

So who are you going to serve? You can’t expect the same people to enjoy learning about a new MMORPG and a Cardio Stimulator app. Play some detective and find out these demographics:

  • Age;
  • Gender;
  • Marital status;
  • Profession;
  • Income;
  • Position;
  • Location;
  • Industry they work in;
  • Their motivation;
  • Their passions and hobbies;
  • Work style;
  • Social responsibilities.

Research allows to evaluate and plan unicorn start-up development

Where can you get all that data?

Some people believe that good marketing is a science of educated guesses. That statement has some truth to it. But, your primary goal is to limit the “guessing” part to a minimum. The secondary goal is maximization of the “science” part.

Ok, you already have a product (idea, pre-release version, whatever). Think about its limitations. You may be launching an app that helps people in need of emergency medical care to call for assistance within a single push of a button.

You would need some hospitals or trained doctors as partners. You would need emergency vehicles that are always in reach. And you would need the end device with the button to track location of the distress call.

What unites these three conditions for success? That’s right. Location. It’s obviously a terrible idea if a sick person’s distress call goes all the way to a doctor in Vancouver if the patient is located in New York. And vice versa.

This leads us to the fact that your primary audience are New Yorkers. Use that to your advantage. Allow an educated guess to become the first stepping stone on your path towards saddling a unicorn.

What’s next? More research!

Our world is filled with awesome solutions. Life’s easier today. And so is research. If you know where to look for answers, of course. You’ve heard about Facebook ads, right?

No, I’m not encouraging you to use them. They might bring in terrible results in your particular start-up case. But, you shouldn’t overlook a platform as powerful as Facebook in your quest for knowledge.

Just take a look what they offer to advertisers. Their Audience Insights page is amazing. Simply typing in New York in the location field reveals incredible insights!

For instance, you will know that 53% of New York’s Facebook users are female and 47% are male. You will know that 37% of New Yorkers are married and 63% have a College degree. 20% of city habitants work in the Arts, Entertainment and Media industries, while only 7% are into computers and math.

45% of people only use Facebook from a mobile carrier. Their average income varies from $30 to $500K with a peak at $50-75K (31%).

By the way, most of these people spend the majority of their money on subscriptions (40%), food, drinks (66%) and clothing (61%). And, at the same time, stuff for kids and business investments are barely visible on the map, at 4% and 3% respectively.

So, if you are planning to open a subscription-based business in New York you’ll probably have better chances than with a B2B offer.

Neat, right? There’s more. Just play around with settings and input fields and you’ll have a goldmine. More importantly – all that data is out there for you to harvest. And it’s free.

Additionally, Twitter has a familiar pre-built system. You can also use Google Analytics if your site is live and running. Or any other tool you prefer. The weapon of choice itself matters little. But the data you can mine is pure gold!

What should you do with all that data? Forget about 90% of it, of course!

That’s right. You won’t be needing it. For now, at least. You have the analysis fresh and ready for usage. But most of the fields in your little cheat sheet are either inapplicable or irrelevant to your product. So why was it so important to gather data in the first place?

Primarily, because you will use it in several later stages. When you will be expanding your business. When you will look for other amazing user-centric solutions. When you will need to determine where to grow and how to do so.

Secondly, you avoid a lot of guessing. You won’t poke your finger into the sky for results. There are too many start-ups who believe they know their clients, based on personal experience, not solid data. I’d love to name a few but I can’t. They are already long forgotten. They’ve failed into nonexistence. Don’t be like them!

What to do with the remaining 10%?

Your next step is sorting valuable data into valid strings of two to three parameters. Here’s an example: you sell a new toy robot with AI that can teach children.

You might think that your audience is made of married couples with children. And you will be wrong. Single parents also buy toys for kids. Uncles, aunts, grannies and friends of family also give birthday or Christmas presents to children.

However, X-mas happens only once a year, so it would be wiser to focus on:

  1. The location of your store or the country you ship AI robots to.
  2. People who have children between the ages of 3-10 (based on the educational software that comes pre-installed).
  3. People with a yearly income that allows the purchase of something like an AI robot. I think those would be mighty expensive.

Store the rest of the data for later use and focus on these three. And, from now you’ve almost got everything covered. Just one more thing…

…Feature VS Benefit

Many products have awesome features, insane functionality and revolutionary capabilities. After all, that’s why start-ups even exist. But many young entrepreneurs fail to realize that a fancy new feature is useless without a benefit it can provide.

Think about an alarm system in a car. Once activated, it starts alerting locals and probably sends a distress call to police. That’s a feature. However, the additional security such a system assures is a benefit.

And you will probably have more success marketing such a system to drivers who are over 30 years old as opposed to 20 year olds with their first car and lots of other issues to worry about like speeding tickets.

Just think about it: Proper analysis drives success. Once you realize it – feel free to shop for a saddle (I’ve heard eBay has some nice deals), because you are riding a Unicorn home from now on.

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