The 4 Ways That 2017 Is Changing the Rules for Startups

May 11, 2017

8:30 pm

The presidential election brought 2016 to a bumpy close and 2017 has already seen its share of related turbulence as media sources now clamber to get our attention while telling us what’s important about politics and beyond. In this tumultuous environment, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture from a professional standpoint, including how novel  shifts in our culture change the marketplace and what that could mean for entrepreneurs.

That makes now a great time to take a step back and determine how this year, from fake news to mindless product fails has so far ushered in a variety of changes for startups that have added to the challenges faced by entrepreneurs while also increasing their opportunities for success:

Digital Detoxes Are a Thing Now

Now that nearly 80 percent of Americans do some form of online shopping, much emphasis is placed on ways to enhance the digital consumer experience by optimizing the technology used to present and purchase products or services. But surprisingly, the best way to connect with digital consumers may be offering better offline support. Research from RingPartner has shown the desire to have person-to-person conversations with brands is actually on the rise, with consumers now spending an average of 113 percent more time on the phone with businesses than they did in 2016. And they’re not just calling. They’re buying. These dialogues can ultimately lead to average conversion rates as high as 50 percent.

While there is no doubt we live in a largely digitized world, the importance of humanized interactions cannot be undervalued by startups who must incorporate an opportunity to foster these personal relationships within their marketing, sales and customer service strategies.

Fake News Now Gets in the Way of Real Messaging

The term “fake news” has grown in popularity with multiple studies showing that social media platforms often allow false stories to not only be posted but also to trend. There are several different ways this information can be presented, ranging from the slanted reporting of real facts or misinterpreted data to deliberately deceptive news stories created and disseminated solely to push an agenda. It can even show up in the form of hoaxes unintentionally covered by reputable outlets.

No matter how it proliferates, today’s fake news ultimately hurts your startup’s marketing and public relations communications as consumers are becoming less likely to trust the content they see. That means entrepreneurs must go above and beyond to ensure they’re creating authentic messaging that will resonate with increasingly jaded audiences.

Politics Should Be Avoided Like the Plague

There’s a decent chance that when you read this piece’s opening line about the presidential election, you immediately felt a certain way about the results. Welcome to 2017. We won’t be discussing specific feelings here because the truth is that audiences have become so polarized with any issue related to politics that it’s no longer in your brand’s best interest to bring them up.

Since the election, the marketplace has seen everything from politically-motivated boycotts to national marketing campaign disasters have a noteworthy effect on sales numbers and public perception. As a result, it’s crucial that startups remain incredibly cognizant of how their product is positioned and viewed to ensure they are not alienating potential investors or customers.

Bad Experiences Have Led to Wary Consumers

A slew of recent disasters based on overpromising and underdelivering has inspired some general mistrust of new tech and startups. These emotions become particularly elevated by nonstop social and traditional media coverage. The Juicero, for example, is a $400 juicing machine that has been the subject of satire and ridicule for failing to live up to its hype. Meanwhile, The Fyre Fest went from being influencer-endorsed to widely panned as a complete catastrophe in a matter of days.

Certainly, it’s not your startup’s fault that The Fyre Fest fed dressing-less salad to people who paid $12,000 a ticket to attend a music festival. But their failure does have implications you can learn from. To avoid similar disappointment or outcry, entrepreneurs need to ensure they first focus not on being buzzworthy, but on delivering a product or service that effectively responds to consumer needs.

Read more about trends in 2017 here on Tech.Co

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Zachary Weiner is the CEO of Emerging Insider, a PR, content relations and communications agency for Emerging Media and technology organizations and startups. He is a frequent universty lecturer and has acted as thought leader across publications from INC and the Guardian to AdWeek and ImediaConnection.

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