Every startup undergoes some trial and error in its first couple of years, and this has certainly been the case for Crello. We recently announced and celebrated reaching the major milestone of 1.5 million users over the course of just under two years. However, it took us some time to find our product-market fit, and we are continuing to tweak it to this day.
Below are my 5 key takeaways for getting design startups off the ground.
1) Quality is not a USP, it’s a prerequisite
Every startup needs to study its niche and how it compares to the current market. If you think a high-quality product will get you far, think again. Having a high-quality product is a mere stepping stone.
When trying to find their ideal customer, startups should strive to offer something that nobody else is offering or solve a problem that no one else can.
2) Get to know your audience
Getting to know your users – who they are, what their day is like and how your service or product fits into their life – is the best way to attract and retain customers. Design startups need to be responsive to the end user’s needs to accordingly develop the right products and updates.
If your target audience is small businesses, their needs will most certainly be different than those of a larger enterprise.
3) Don’t Neglect PR
Startups should not forget about the importance of PR and the role it plays in creating brand awareness. Sure, you need actual paying users and investors to get your startup where it needs to go, but resources should also be dedicated to increasing your brand awareness early on in your start-up’s journey.
Your PR activities need not be solely focused on your product and should also address the end user. Study your audience and zero in on the things that matter to them. Work on inspiring your audience and catering to their needs. Word of mouth will do the rest.
4) Invest in market research for optimal ROI
Experimenting and trying to find the perfect product-market fit is extremely important in the first year of your startup’s lifetime. This is really the time to make mistakes and learn from them, which is something that becomes more risky down the line.
Investing in market research will help reduce the risks associated with making certain product-related decisions. It will also support your efforts to differentiate yourself from competitors by finding certain gaps in the market, or customer demands that are not yet being met.
5) Find & nurture your brand ambassadors
Design startups should encourage their users to share their projects and case studies. This will help raise your brand awareness and allow you to take a closer look at the effectiveness of your campaigns. A great way to do this is creating a dedicated Facebook group where clients can share their projects.
Reaching out to influencers and bloggers to tell their audiences about your product or service can also be useful. Tutorials and reviews work well because they don’t just introduce the blogger’s existing audience to your platform but also improve your SEO.
Embarking on a new start-up in the design space is hard work, but if you keep these fundamental tips in mind your hard work is likely to pay off!
Remember that the most important thing is to always know your user. Keep refining your USP, there is nothing wrong with that. Invest in PR and market research, and don’t forget to leverage word of mouth from brand ambassadors in order to help you grow your user base and scale your business.
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, Money and Finance Magazine, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha is chair of The Ethical Publishers Association and co-chair of The Logistics Association. Kizzi made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.