When you are a start-up that is just starting out in this highly competitive, overpopulated-with-competition world, it is tough. Becoming the next AirBnb or Uber comes with an entire set of challenges.
Acquiring first customers
When a speaker gives a speech, the hook is crucial. Whether or not you manage to get your audience’s attention at the very beginning is what determines how effectively your message is ready to be received.
The same applies for a product or service. Once it is developed and out there, promotional efforts come into play. Social media becomes a significant marketing tool. The content a company puts out becomes their hook.
Facebook, Apple, Coca Cola; their initial marketing efforts contributed greatly to their significant success today.
There are countless products which are out there in the market, with their existences fading even before being established in the first place. A company’s first customers are crucial, because they are the people who trusted the product enough to try it. If they are appeased, a happy-turned-loyal customer is the best spokesperson any company could ask for.
Any good driver knows what traction is, but the definition changes up slightly in the business world. Here it means the progress and momentum growth of a company alongside the growth of its business.
There can be several reasons as to why a start-up is not getting enough traction. Just building the product is not enough. It does not guarantee that a start-up is anywhere close to success. The key – and hurdle – is making sure the company branding is oriented around the product, while giving timely and strong support to its customer base.
If a product does not solve a problem, address a need, or even make lives easier or more entertaining – chances are, customers will not pick it up. They may not have a need for the product or may simply not be interested in using it.
Poor presentation could be yet another factor for lack of traction. This may not just be of the product, but even the company itself.
For instance, poor website presentation – if you run a start-up and your company’s purpose, value, and problem-solving statement cannot be effortlessly found out from your website, it is high time for it to be upgraded to include all these.
Without a clear reason of why your product exists, the website essentially serves no actual purpose.
The same applies to the company’s social media platforms. The best content communicates with your target audience by – for starters – telling them who you are, what you do, and what is in it for them.
It is crucial to maintain an active social media presence by regularly updating your customers (followers) and constantly trying to engage them in interaction. Several start-ups lack in the latter aspect on their social media platforms, which is why they hardly get any interaction despite having large numbers of followers.
Any company, big or small, cannot function without the contribution of its team; its people. Each member plays a significant role, and this is magnified when it comes to a start-up.
Since the number of employees in a start-up generally stays in the single-digit range, there is a lot more responsibility on each member. A great deal more effort, time, energy, creativity and brain power are required to get a start-up’s wheels turning. Without any of these, forget exponentially gaining momentum; even keeping up the momentum already gained will be a tough task.
The worst part? Despite all this, more often than not, the employees’ hard work may not even be seen or acknowledged by outsiders. It could be customers not doing their hard work justice by constantly not responding to social media posts, or it could be investors shooting down pitches so easily it is almost dishearteningly dismissive.
Apart from that, every member needs to have an in-depth knowledge of their job scope and probably even beyond. While start-ups offer large room for learning, the work scope can seem so vast to the small team that it induces pressure as well.
If a conflict occurs within the members, the impact is felt greatly. In order to not let it snowball and eventually affect the quality of work, the team has to resolve their conflicts and work amicably.
Lack of results
Despite the entire team’s efforts, the chances of there being no results is high. Even after countless campaigns, posts and promo codes, the response rate can be dejectedly low.
This in turn can induce despair in employees, because any sort of response would have at least given them a sense of direction. Without feedback – positive or negative – the members would desperately be trying to figure out what they did wrong without knowing where to start from.
So, instead of working on tweaking their current campaign according to obtained feedback, the members will be feeling lost, directionless, and may even be going around in circles trying to figure out where to focus their efforts.
Deadly, harmful reviews
It is difficult enough for a start-up to get the ball rolling without any sort of feedback or response from customers. Now imagine having to make a reputation for your company amidst an influx of negative reviews.
These deadly reviews can do serious damage to even established conglomerates, so you can only imagine the endeavours a poor start-up has to go through to try and battle the impact of all the negativity.
Kudusto.com.au founder Paul Ryan once said that this negativity could “cripple” small companies such as start-ups.
Start-ups need to respond with carefully and intricately-chosen words to get themselves out of this mess, so that their customer base is strengthened and they can channel their time and energy on other aspects as well.
The Solution (one of them, at least)
Here is the thing, though. Despite all the struggles that a start-up faces, there is always a solution. If there was not, then Grab and Lazada would not be where they are today.
For my company, PHIX, our most effective solution so far has been none other than the formidable social media.
Singapore has one of the highest social media penetration rates in the world, with over 4.7 million people being active social media users as recently as last year. That amounts to nearly three-quarters of the population.
These statistics are astounding, and should thrill any founder and marketing team worth their value. The possibilities of using social media to build a business identity are endless.
That is what PHIX did. We lost momentum and traction after getting hit by Covid, and we tried several ways to regain them afterward and get back to the few thousand rapid downloads and hundreds of active users we had post-catastrophe.
But the best solution for us turned out to be social media; more specifically, influencer outreach. We worked with social media influencers by offering them a complementary service of their choice from our app, and they posted their honest reviews about it along with videos or photos of them enjoying our service on their accounts.
The results were fruitful; with our downloads, active users and number of bookings growing at pleasantly surprising rates and instilling a sense of euphoria in us.
PHIX is continuing to grow today, and it is all because we made use of Singapore’s high social media usage rate. The network effect of social media is so widespread and effective that the impact was almost immediate.
Now that we have found our solution, we are going to pivot towards and expand on this aspect to ensure continued growth and success for our future as well.
If you work in a start-up and are finding a way to overcome your struggles, this would be a great platform to expand on.
As I said earlier, there are endless possibilities. So, you could try it our way, or experiment and find your own ideal social media solution to make your start-up successful.