Resolving Your Identity Crisis: How to Stand Out from the Carbon Copies

September 1, 2014

10:00 am

Have a tech startup? Guess what — so does everyone else.

Not only are the number of tech accelerators and business incubators on the rise, but according to CB Insights, investments in tech startups have also increased 74 percent from 2011 to 2013. The US economy is ripe for rising entrepreneurs, so the odds that you won’t have competition in your industry are unlikely.

Having competition means every financially successful idea will be copied, even with patents and trademarks in place. Standing out from the crowd takes a great product, a loyal customer base, and a dynamic marketing plan that connects the two.

Consider these components when putting together your marketing strategy:

1. Growth hacking strategies

Growth hacking was once considered a fringe activity. It was based on SEO, website analytics, content marketing, and A/B testing, which are now mainstream practices. These alternative marketing methods are no longer optional in a successful marketing strategy.

To get noticed in a crowded marketplace, you need to constantly search for a free or low-cost marketing opportunity. Get your team together to analyze available data, review social metrics, and raise brand awareness to start selling your products.

2. Viral marketing campaigns

Far too often, we think of viral content as YouTube videos or BuzzFeed listicles with millions of views, but viral marketing is older than the Internet itself. It’s about getting word-of-mouth attention on the streets. This can be accomplished in any industry and any format.

For instance, the film Paranormal Activity was a low-budget horror film made with only $11,000. It was shot in a found-footage format, which looked like a dry well in Hollywood at the time. The movie went on to generate more than $100 million for Paramount Pictures without releasing a trailer; it simply advertised footage of test audiences watching the movie.

3. Open and honest communication

If you say your app is the only one or the fastest option on the market with the most features, that better be accurate. This doesn’t mean it’s true in one isolated test case, but in 100 percent of all cases and audiences. Making false claims will make you stick out in the market — in the wrong way.

Engaging your customer base is an important part of a successful brand strategy. The only way you’ll be able to engage your customers is if they trust you enough to participate. This is how Uber turned the simple idea of hailing a cab into a popular tech company.

4. Innovate products and marketing

Successful businesses anticipate their customers’ needs and evolve their products ahead of time. At the very least, they incorporate customer feedback into future releases. Dropbox stood out among cloud providers because it focused on seamless integration, community sharing, and perks.

Utilize loyalty cards to get your customers in store. Collect contact information when they make purchases. Track their spending habits and interests, and find ways to connect with them and get your products into their hands.

The tech community is rapidly growing, and everyone has the “next big” something. But a quality product isn’t a magic ticket to success. You’ll have to create, implement, and evolve a multifaceted marketing plan to reach the right customers.

Allison Conkright Engel leads global marketing and operations for the Dell Center for Entrepreneurs. Prior to Dell, Allison worked for various startups, leading their Southwest expansion efforts. She has more than 15 years of experience in media and marketing and has worked for several iconic brands. Connect with Allison on Twitter.

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