Changing playbook

Five Ways Startups Win Big in the Global Market by Changing Brands’ Playbook

During the last decade or so, an astonishing amount of entrepreneurs around the world have ferociously launched their tech startups in a hole in the wall cafe, in a chair, on the floor, in an attic, in the heat or in the cold, from any city, any corner of the globe — From the startup ecosystems of Beijing to Bombay and Bangalore, to London, Berlin, Stockholm, Toronto, and Tel Aviv. Based on GEM (Global Entrepreneurs Monitor) report, there are more than 100 million startups launched every year globally, which equals about three startups per second worldwide.

With that in mind, the quintessential U.S. cities remain influential in this international picture, including those in the San Francisco Bay region, New York, Boston, and Los Angeles.

What distinct the Silicon Valley hubs with the rest of the startup ecosystems/hubs around the world are not the locations or money, but the mindset and playbook!

The new reality is that the low cost of entry for running a tech startup, the enabling globalized SAAS business platform, entrepreneurs are no longer just competing in their home-turf or operating within their known value chains. they are competing worldwide at the onset of its infancy stage. So globalizing early and quickly can get a leg up on the competition and a boost to their brand while those that do not might simply die quickly like the ambers fading into the universe.

Earlier globalization increases the company’s ability to get customer feedback in these unpredictable environments. And hence, the earlier the startup globalizes, the greater its ability for exploiting growth-sleuthing opportunities worldwide would become.

In the blog, important changes to the startup playbook are extracted from five writing streams related to the globalization of technology startups and brand building worldwide. So, these practices are organized in terms of what entrepreneurs need to do to globalize the technology startup as well as their brands early and quickly. And these five elements are structured as seen below.

Part I: Talk Not Ideas but Problem & Purpose

People who want to start a tech company often start by asking what good startup ideas are. Paul Graham put it the best: “The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself.”

Nowadays, I have seen a lot of startups following Paul Graham’s advice and getting ideas coming from their own experience of a “pain point” in their personal or business life. Though deciding on an idea is just the entry point, it is a process. A startup means it will encounter millions of its own startup problems that might sabotage their great ideas, which I put into the article “11 Ways to Completely Sabotage Your Startup Idea.”

Startups also need to immediately be validated if that particular problem they try to solve is experienced by many others as well. Only when the startup is validated does the potential for a high growth problem/solution that defines a startup (startup = growth), be on the trajectory to win big. In the meantime, there’s the important, intangible thing in start-ups—the spirit and the purpose. The company founders imbue their purpose and spirit into the company and apply their theory of the world to the solution of the problem. It urges people to bring their talent, wealth, and spirit and fosters a sense of deep connection and shared purpose.

Without a clear purpose, the startup will wander along without any force. And when things get difficult (which they most likely will), you won’t have much to take you or the team through.

Etsy, for example, gives the community a strong sense of identity and purpose as makers-aggregate, banging together thousands of artisans (small fishes) to form a school of fish that can thwart corporate imperialists (sharks). Etsy itself serves as the eyes (North Star) to big schools of fishes (the community) and in everything they do—from marketing to sales, to customer service, and beyond.  Other related posts are:

•          Purpose: What No One Is Talking About

•          15 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Problem & Purpose

Having a clear purpose brings some true meaning to the business and the movement that people will gather around. It may also make the brand’s true weight as it has a reason for being, so it’s worth spending time defining, articulating, and prioritizing one key problem of their customers and clarifying the brand’s message so it strikes a chord with its audience.

·      365+ Potent Phrases That Seduce an Audience and Convert Like Crazy

·      How to Make Your Brand POP in 5 Minutes

·      How to Make Your Brand Charismatic When You Are A Bootstrapped Startup

·      The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Articulating Problem

Part II: Talk Not a Great Team but Savvy Leadership

American academic Noam Wasserman validates this in his book, The Founder’s Dilemma, by opening with the eye-popping statistic that 65% of all startups fail “due to problems within the startup’s management team.” In another survey asking investors to identify problems they thought might occur in their portfolio companies, 61% of the answers involved problems within the team. And being co-founders is very much like a marriage, without the sex, but still, 65% is way higher than the divorce rate!

Team trouble is often talked about in ways lacking actionable advice and empowering perspective. We all want a great team, but we also know that it takes one weak link to break the whole chain of your startup and it can easily sink into the quicksand of finger-pointing and a downward spiral for the business.

What if we shift our perspective from team to leadership? Isn’t it true that savvy leaders make sure they get the good people working for them, the good competencies, the proper disposition, the drive to win, so to encourage them to do great things? Leadership isn’t about you but about helping others become productive and about removing those obstacles—excessive bureaucracy, social conflict, doubt, and harmful cultures—that hinder success. Here are more posts that cover this:

• 5 Clichés About Great Team You Should Avoid

• How do I utilize a board of directors and/or an advisory board?

• 5 Qualities the Best People in the Startup Industry Tend to Have

Part III: Talk Not Product but Brand & Customers

Most startups pivot their product ideas and market a few weeks after getting into the incubator. At some point in their trajectory, all successful startups will, to some degree, pivot ,  and pivoting is as much a mindset as it is a concept. When a startup pivots it uses the assets, team, knowledge, support, and even its product and technology in order to change the idea and develop other products that people really want.

The meaning of “pivot” is that you are no longer continuing with the current form of your product but sticking to your brand. And when you harness your brand, and not talk about your product, you allow your message to be consistent even as you’re pivoting your product.

Brand is a latent layer that is larger than the product, it encompasses the team behind the product, the problem the product is trying to solve, and the narrative of how the product came into existence. Not to mention the future customer support for the product, new features or accessories, and the trajectory of the company at large. There is so much more to a product than just the product itself. [Jeremiah Gardner, Entrepreneur’s Guide to The Lean Brand ].

The product must fulfill the promise that you are making to your customer to solve his or her pain/problem. But stopping at the product alone truncates the story that is behind it. Stopping at product alone limits the potential relationship that an organization can have with an audience. It also limits the potential value that the product itself can have. Brand is everything else that goes into the product that isn’t the product but the relationship between you and your customers, and relationships are two-way streets. All brands, like relationships, are created by people and given meaning by people. As such, they need to be constantly re-created to survive.

• The Anatomy of a Great Startup Brand

• How do I value my Brand?

• 10 Myths About Brand: Busted

• 7 Tips For Talking to Your Early Users or Customers

Part IV: Bypass Advertising, Hone in on Brand Storytelling

5 Cliches about great team to steer clear of

Digital advertising requires funds of the highest order to provide any tangible returns. And fund spending on digital advertising is transactional in nature with limited impact on creating a lasting unique relationship with your customers. It is often targeted for impulse-driven needs and transaction—natured growth is linear, not exponential which is what startup needs because startups don’t have adequate funds for linear growth.

So, what should you do? Well, one of the most affordable ways to market your startup is by harnessing brand storytelling and story making using social media platforms to invite customers into a story. What exactly is brand storytelling? Well, it isn’t exactly a “new” method, it has been employed by Greek Tragedy. Greek theater was about gods and humans struggling to solve problems. It humanized the supernatural and made mere mortals more heroic than many gods. People flocked to the theater because the stories were their stories on a fundamental level. Therein lies the key to masterful brand storytelling.

Here, it’s important to make a distinction between storytelling and story-making, with the latter emanating from the customer. When you integrate the story making and storytelling, you make the interplay between the two a way that is a unique and distinctly systematic approach in brand-marketing that produces spawning growth.

Although we have seen the use of social media to recast the conversation, it appears on the surface that the only thing social media does differently from Greek theater is to let more people directly contribute to the creative result. Instead of Euripides hanging out with his family and friends and inviting them to offer plot twists, Euripides’ daughter can tweet her story ideas and her followers will plant and cultivate them throughout the world.

But the real difference—the new aspect of the story making experience covered is that a company can make those tweets and blog posts part of an intentional, systematic program to make a brand influential.

You can also implement an inbound marketing strategy and integrate a growth hacking process. Nevertheless, keep particular things in mind when handling the promotion of your startup through digital marketing. Here are more blogs on these topics:

• A Beginner’s Guide to Brand Storytelling

• Brand Story Making: What No One Is Talking About

• An Introduction to Brand Story Making

• 5 Lessons About Growth (or Brand) You Can Learn From Superheroes

• 7 Tips For Talking to Your Early Users or Customers

Part V: Brand Global Growth is within reach for early startups

Storytelling at the heart is about connecting the “story of self” to the larger “story of us,” our humanity. The stories that we remember, no matter our cultural heritage, are the ones that we connect with personally through hidden values or beliefs, or that are a revelation of our universe.

Stories have been used for centuries as a means of teaching values because talking about values is not an easy thing. Stories equipped with metaphors and emotional narratives often bypass our conscious defense and become our psychological mirrors reflecting on our own experiences, facilitating understanding of important meanings, beliefs, and behaviors from different cultures.

When brand storytelling embodies a cherished value shared with its audience, it can seem to disseminate the value to cross the boundaries of culture and resonate on some deeper human level. Just like storytelling, mythic structures and Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey have been brought to life across time and geography.

Story has these universal traits of connecting the “story of self” to the “story of us,” what varies are differences in cultural contexts of how we tell stories. The cultural contexts influence our lives—and by extension, our storytelling. In other words, the contexts of our stories are impactful to experiences of the stories and their meaning.

For brands looking to reach a global scale, it is critical to pursue cherished values that are shared across the globe while understanding how cultural lenses shape stories and influence the way audiences consume content. By clarifying the biases you bring to the table and unifying your messages with universal story arcs, you can create content that will perform well in markets across the globe.

• Why We Love Brand as a Force for Growth (And You Should, Too!)

• How Technology Is Changing How We Treat Growth

• The No. 1 Question Everyone Working in Growth Should Know How to Answer

• 3 Things You Didn’t Know About Growth Hacking Can Lead You Astray

These steps help businesses and brand owners to get on the fast-track toward growth, building brand traction, and landing investors.

They represent changing brands with a clear vision and an entrepreneurial organization dedicated to accomplishing the unmet need.

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