The journey to finding success as a startup is fraught with several challenges. But the key to success often lies in the ability of the entrepreneur to manage these difficulties and accept them a part of the process. As an entrepreneur, you need to learn from others, be it their failure or their success. So here I am with 5 lessons to learn from 5 startups.
1. Make The Town Talk About Your Brand
Advertisement and brand promotion is a crucial element in any business operation. However while most businesses rely on brand endorsements by celebrities, the most conventional way I guess, CRED, the latest unicorn, founded by entrepreneur Kunal Shah took a very different approach to this.
CRED’s advertisement made Rahul Dravid lose his cool that no other fierce cricketer could make him do. The “Indiranagar ka Gunda”, as seen in the latest commercial by CRED, has left many people wondering, “Can Rahul Dravid get angry?” What’s important to note is how a video of less than 25 seconds amused the large number of audience.
The idea of presenting a change of public image of the 48-year old cricketer was well-applauded by netizens. People who had not ever seen Dravid shouting, were astonished to see his dark side. The entire idea was so praiseworthy that it led to many celebs like Deepika Padukone adopting a similar fashion of self-promotion over social media. Police Departments also took cue from Rahul Dravid’s never-seen angry face to share advisory posts on social media.
A Shift from Conventional Advertising to Concept Advertising
With CRED embracing the idea of conceptual advertising, debate on how informed are commercials being created has risen. Advertising is a sole form of exposing the brand to the targeted prospects. And using this medium requires a significant amount of time and money. While big brands can easily go for it, startups find it difficult to cope. Reason why brands are not only limited to the advertising agencies, but also prefer to invest in crazy sensational ideas given by the most talented human resources.
However, the marketing and advertising fraternity stands divided on CRED’s advertising strategies. While some praised the strategy behind celebrity and their personality usage, others criticised it for wastage of money as the value proposition of CRED is not clear. Critics point out that while the entertainment factor is well-retained in the commercial, it is not clear what CRED is trying to sell. It seems as if two different ads are forcefully clubbed into one.
Pivotal marketing lessons from CRED advertising
While many digital business advisors, screenwriters, and category directors took to social media to express their dissenting voices, it is important for us to note down important marketing lessons that make CRED commercials a sensation.
- Many brands use celebrity endorsements, but what makes CRED exceptional is to use celebrity signature moves that the audience can easily relate to, or a personality flip, that will keep the audience amazed.
- What makes the content impactful is the timing of the release of the commercial. With the Indian Premier League season (IPL) starting, CRED found it as the perfect slot to gain more viewership and engagement. Afterall it takes something really incredible to steal a part of IPL’s thunder on the opening day.
- The commercial has meme material that is later used for influential meme marketing for creating mass brand awareness.
- An advertisement should be capable of starting a conversation.Tweets by other bands like Zomato, Dunzo, Ather Energy, Spotify India, and CARS24 to do brandjacking helped the CRED advertisement go viral.
- Making the viewers realize the benefits and showing unexpected things rather than describing features of the brand is a powerful tool to advertise and that’s what CRED does.
2. Create an Experience, Not Just a Product
What’s the first thing you think of when you think IKEA?
It’s probably furniture, but it could also be Swedish meatballs or a Saturday afternoon meandering through their giant warehouse while arguing with your spouse. Shopping at IKEA is different than shopping at other furniture stores, and it makes IKEA’s model a unique experience for its customers.
People can buy products from anywhere and from anyone. But if you can give them an experience when they buy from you, you’re going to stand out. And that means they’re going to come back to you time and time again.
How You Can Make This Work for You
When you’re planning your marketing strategy, you should think outside the typical sales box.
While your goal is to drive sales, there are more ways to do this than simply promoting a product. IKEA’s success comes largely from offering other reasons to come to their store besides the needs to buy a new coffee table. You can get a bite to eat. You can get design inspiration from their beautifully set up example rooms. Heck, you can get daycare for your kids.
And while you’re there, you’ll probably end up buying a few extra things that weren’t on your list.
Creating this unique experience for your customers will take some creativity and a good understanding of what it is your audience would like to see from you. But if you can swing it, it will help you bring in more people, make more sales, and endear people to your brand.
These kind of experiences can include things like providing helpful information, in-depth tutorials, workshops to accompany your products, offering other services that are helpful or fun for your customers, and hosting online webinars.
Read Also: 8 Common Investing Mistakes You Should Avoid
3. Continually find new ways to monetize your customer base
Monetizing your customer base is just a fancy way of saying sell more stuff to your existing customers. If you want to know how to do this take a look at Apple as it has done this better than any company in the world.
If we look back at Apple’s history for a few decades Apple was really about the desktop computer. But in the early 2000s that started to change with the launch of the iPod in 2001. If you already had a Mac then of course you wanted a compatible music player so you could listen to your music on the go. Even if you didn’t own a Mac you still wanted an iPod. That was the beginning of Apple hooking customers into multiple products.
Then towards the end of the decade in 2007 Apple launched the iPhone, then the iPad in 2010. Both of these products were and are hits with consumers. Apple makes this looks easy but it’s not. Understanding your customers so well that you can define what they want before they want or need it is no easy task. Then you have to invest resources before you have had any commercial success.
Most companies are not good at extracting more value from their existing base of customers. They come out with one hit product and then they struggle to figure out what’s next. They are one hit wonders. Remember Blockbuster? Maybe you have forgotten but you certainly know who Netflix is. But companies like Apple figure out how to get a greater share of your wallet over time, they are constantly expanding the pie. One of the reasons Walmart rose to dominance is because it figured out how to get a consumer to shop at Walmart more frequently. The secret? Groceries. Although Walmart launched in 1962 its first full service grocery store didn’t open until 1988. If you sell someone groceries customers will shop at your store on a regular basis and while they are there they will buy other things.
One of the ways Apple has gotten customers to spend more is through paid subscriptions. At the end of Apple’s 2020 third quarter it had over 550 million paid subscribers up a staggering 130 million from last year. Apple is targeting to have 600 million by the end of 2020. Apple gets paid subscribers from a growing library of services which are just another way for Apple to generate revenue on an ongoing bases. Again, Apple has thought about its devices, how people use them and has created a long list of additional ways to use them.
This is a key lesson for building a sustainable business model.
4. Be Willing to Invent
I have bits about the culture of invention at Amazon scattered throughout this post, but there’s one important point I want to highlight.
Ever notice how many products and services Amazon offers? You can trace that back to Bezos’s philosophy of rapid experimentation and invention. In this sense, Bezos is the anti-Steve Jobs. Apple offers only a few products, but Amazon offers dozens. At the bottom of the Amazon homepage, you can see the wide range of different products and services they offer:
Invention is really important to Bezos and his team at Amazon. He mentions the words “pioneers” and “explorers” a lot to describe his team at Amazon. He looks for people that like to invent and are always looking for ways to make products better.
Bezos is even an inventor himself. Whether it’s his 10,000 year clock (which is quite an engineering challenge), his Blue Origin space company, his patented airbag system for phones, the solar cooker he invented as a kid, or his endeavors with Amazon, Bezos loves to invent. He values it (along with resourcefulness) in his employees and encourages it. Bezos has said that one of his favorite things to do is work in teams and brainstorm. It’s clear he’s passionate about invention.
When you’re an entrepreneur, no matter what field, you have to love to invent and build things. Whether you’re Henry Ford building a car, the Wright brothers building an aircraft, or any software engineer inventing new software. It’s in every great entrepreneurs DNA. The love of brainstorming, experimenting, and toying are all fundamental characteristics of inventors and entrepreneurs.
Invention and inventors push the world forward. One of my favorite quotes is all about being an inventor and explorer:
Bezos, his team at Amazon, and entrepreneurs all around the world who are always curious explorers.
5. Adapt with the Times
Netflix is older than you might imagine. It goes back to the days of video stores—when Blockbuster still ruled the world. Netflix even offered itself up to Blockbuster for a sale in 2000 for the paltry price of $50 million; Blockbuster refused.
Why? No one can predict the future. But Netflix did ride the wave of evolving consumer demand. Outside the brick-and-mortar of retail video stores, the world changed. Netflix changed with it. By focusing on its customers first, Netflix continually invested in new methods to offer its services in convenient ways. Eventually, Netflix settled on a streaming service (once an afterthought to the rental subscription). Once popular, this service wiped out the need to rent DVD’s at all.
Your business should also adapt with the times. In some cases, the times change very slowly—your plumbing expertise in 2005 would probably work just as well in 2018. But stay on top of trends and pay attention to customer feedback to get a sense of the waterline. It may help you avoid mistakes like Blockbuster’s.