As a driven startup business owner, you’re ready to make your mark on the world using bold ideas and innovative strategies. But with an often chaotic and distracting marketplace, how can you make sure that your business cuts through the noise?

It’s no secret that startups often face a series of hurdles such as securing sufficient funding, finding a solid team and avoiding the ever-dreaded burnout. Because of these challenges, business owners may feel like they are fighting an uphill battle to success. However, certain tips and tricks can help make the journey to a profitable startup more manageable.

Keep reading to learn how to brandish your single most powerful tool that will take your startup to the next level: your unique story. 

“Storytelling is important for startups because it gives them a way to capture the spotlight when they have limited marketing budgets, few customers, or little traction and brand awareness. It lets them use creativity and agility to outflank larger rivals. ” — MARK EVANS, EXPERT STORYTELLER

female startup founders

Adding a Personal Touch to Your StartUp Story

To start piecing your outstanding startup story together, consider what makes your brand one-of-a-kind. Curate a narrative that engages customers on a personal level and highlights the ways your startup fulfills a marketplace need. A clear brand message, core conflict, characters and plot — which we’ll discuss in-depth later — will help your brand stand out among competing startups and tell a gripping story that customers want to be a part of.

“Customers aren’t buying your product; they’re buying your story.”

Remember, customers are people first — and studies show that people love engaging in an emotionally charged, inspiring story. Take steps to connect with your audience on a human-to-human level and watch as your brand reaps the benefits.

The Building Blocks Behind Your Startup

To create a brand story that you want to share with the world, reflect on what motivates you as a business owner. With this in mind, cast the characters in your story and determine the plot and conflict that your brand addresses. The following steps reveal how to create a startup that both you and your customers can believe in.

Finding Your “Why”

A groundbreaking idea or innovation may have been the catalyst behind your startup, but what is the fuel that will keep you going through inevitable rough patches? Are you excited to fill a gap in the marketplace? Perhaps you’re seeking a deeper meaning that’s found in your work. As a business owner, finding your personal “why” is crucial to sustaining a successful startup when the going gets tough.

Using Conflict to Your Advantage

Though many of us may shy away from conflict in our day-to-day lives, it’s actually a key part of developing a profitable business. By offering solutions to customers’ everyday problems or struggles, brands identify issues that need fixing — whether they be in the marketplace, our societies or the environment. These issues are brands’ central “conflicts.” By naming a conflict that your brand seeks to correct, you’ll build a stronger brand identity and customer base. Don’t be afraid to establish a strong mission for your startup and let it be known what you’re fighting for — call out the Goliath that your startup is facing and wants to conquer!

Your Brand’s Plot and Characters

Grow your startup by sharing your mission, your inspiration and the ways that you hope to make a difference. All of these factors can be combined to tell a gripping, unique brand story that your customers won’t soon forget. To make sure that your startup story sticks with your audience, define your brand’s plot and characters. Your plot should revolve around the reasons your brand is different from the competition, what you have to offer and lastly, why customers — and investors — should care. Make yourself relevant for the modern customer and anticipate how you can address investors’ potential concerns.

Next, cast the characters in your brand story so that customers know where they fit into your narrative. Many companies choose to cast themselves in the “hero” role, with customers being “saved” by their high-quality product or service. Feel free to shake it up based on what your startup is offering and how you want customers to receive it.

Reading Your Audience

Once you have determined the issue that your products or services will resolve for future customers, it’s time to dive in and get to know your clientele. Unsurprisingly, one of the most important considerations when building your startup is who you will market to, or the audience you’re seeking out.

Start with a few basic questions to get a feel for your audience. What is their general age range? Where do they tend to live? What are their professions? The more you know about your customers, the better you can tailor your products and services to meet their needs.

Next, think about how you can use various marketing and advertising tools to appeal to your target audience. Consider their interests and the types of messages or visuals they might find most engaging. Research suggests that 90% of human learning is visual, so don’t discount the impact of a powerful image.

Building Credibility in the Social Media Era

In today’s market, social media is a force to be reckoned with. While it may seem overwhelming at first, your online presence and interaction with customers can ultimately strengthen your brand. Step one: prioritize transparency. Being open and honest is one of the best ways to build customer trust and educate the public on your business. Use your social media platforms in creative ways with behind-the-scenes looks at everyday operations or share employee closeups to give a more personal touch.

Another key to staying relevant in the startup world is embracing the power of reviews. Get ahead of the game by giving your customers a place to share their experiences with your product or services. Even if you receive a negative review, use it as a learning opportunity and reply to the customer in a positive way. Studies show that 95% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase — dedicating a space for customers to share their stories and opinions will significantly benefit your startup in the long run.

Though creating a startup can be a challenging venture, the fruits of your efforts can be equally rewarding. By taking calculated risks, articulating a compelling brand story and addressing your audience’s needs, your business will be well on its way to establishing a successful niche in your industry.

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