If you are under forty years old, you probably have heard the phrase “build it and they will come” but don’t know where it originated. No, it’s not an old-timer’s advertising pitch, although it has been used as such. It’s actually from the 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams”, which involved baseball, ghosts, and a much younger Kevin Costner. Long story short – this was the birthplace of the phrase, which was taken as gospel gold by new businesses and advertisers through the next decade.
It represented the idea that if you developed a grand new product and put it out there for the world to see, clients would flock to your door. At the time, it worked.
Obviously, today’s business landscape is dramatically different than how it was in 1989. The same principle applied today would likely be catastrophic.
A New World for Business
Thanks to the birth of IoT (Internet of Things) technology and Social Media, the entire startup landscape has morphed into a living, breathing (almost) thing. Having a ‘good idea’ isn’t enough to just start bringing in work. In a world crowded with competitors who are louder, brighter, and more accessible than ever before, startups have to offer something truly unique to get noticed. Startups also need to make sure they’re making their presence known in the right place, at the right time, by the right people.
Don’t despair, all is not lost. Crowded social platforms and a constant flow of new business models do offer some advantages for startups and businesses alike.
Build Social Media Presence and They Will Come
Social media makes it possible for new brands to keep their ears to the ground to discover their audiences’ needs and wants. By discovering your audience’s interests, what excites them, what they’re buying, why they’re buying it, what they love, and what they hate, you have the opportunity to make a stronger, deeper connection that will help your brand to stand out from the rest. You can also use social media and web analytics to stalk your competition, either learning from their mistakes or gleaning what makes them successful. Thanks, technology!
Armed with this information, it’s possible to develop products and services that are exactly aligned with your potential customer’s needs. In fact, you can use psychology to go deeper into making an impact with your audience. You can appeal to their hopes, desires, and inspirations. Brands that tailor their offerings and messaging to what motivates a target audience get noticed. Plain and simple. Don’t worry if your actual product is the same as others’. By differentiating your brand’s presence from that of the crowd, you can win the attention of your audience. Offer something that no one else does. Give your potential customers more than just the product you offer. They want to be educated. They want information that serves them. They want to be part of something that inspires them on multiple levels, something bigger than themselves, something bigger than you. Find the ways your brand can fill that want, and you’ll be unstoppable.
Bucketfeet is a brand that takes the work of real artists around the world and creates fun, functional, fashionable shoes from them. Branded as the “most unique sneakers you’ll ever wear”, every pair of Bucketfeet shoes is designed by a different artist from around the world. Each design is made in limited small batches, telling an intricate story while keeping uniqueness and exclusivity at the forefront. Bucketfeet pays artists for their work up front, then continues to pay them royalties on each pair sold. They’ve given thousands of dollars back to the community of artists around the world, and often partner with nonprofits. Talk about connecting with your audience on many emotional levels!
Tentsile is an outdoor and campaign equipment brand that encourages its audience to show their products in use – often in the most rugged, beautiful places on Earth. Notice how the tent itself is probably the least important aspect of their insta-feed, evoking feelings of wanderlust, adventure, new experiences, and connecting with nature. Just scrolling through their feed makes you want to purchase their product.
Not all brands on social media are selling products. No Your City is a documentary series that showcases the perspective of different people all over the world (though they mostly post from New York). These gorgeous photos evoke emotions of local pride and finding beauty in the spaces we see every day. The user can almost feel themselves in the space of photo, can almost hear the rain falling, etc, etc. The brand makes deeper connections with its audience using these senses and emotions.
How Your Brand Can Deliver
Start by continually re-evaluating your product. Most entrepreneurs are visionaries that start with the ‘big idea’, only to quickly find that this idea needs to be honed, whittled, and perfected before it can be successful. Seldom does the end product come out as it was first conceived, which is why its vital for brands to constantly evaluate their environment without blindly charging full steam ahead. You should constantly remind yourself who your product will benefit and how you can appeal to their real, genuine, humanness.
Getting your brand onto social media channels gives you a powerful voice, but it’s important to not use that voice to just passively shout at your audience. Connect with your audience by having real conversations. Ask them questions, make them reflect on themselves, let their voice be heard. Become a part of their ‘tribe’ and the groups they identify with. Consumers are concerned about more than just what you have to offer. They want to know who you are. They want to know what you’re doing to help the world around you. They want to support brands that understand them and represent a part of their lives.
You also have to be practical. The internet and Social Media are the new business platform. If you want to be found it is of paramount importance that little nagging things like SEO are taken care of – or you won’t exist.
Your product has to be great. Good isn’t good enough. If your product isn’t up to scratch the online community will spread the word like wildfire. If it is good, the same wildfires can work to your advantage. Make sure your brand is filling a real need. Be innovative, find out what people are lacking and create it for them before they even ask.
You have to be flexible. If something doesn’t work, change it. If a client complains, fix it. Use negative interactions as an opportunity to delight customers even further by solving their problems, improving on yourself, and constantly evolving your product.
Finally, if you want to succeed (and we know you do or you wouldn’t be reading this!) you need a team that’s tight. Working groups should be small, focused, and built on trust. There is simply too much at stake to waste time on poor team structures. Hire professionals, make sure they are a good fit for your brand’s company culture, work to maintain that culture, and trust them to do the job they are hired for.
Don’t build it and wait for them to come to you. Go to them, where they are, start a conversation and make a meaningful difference to their lives.