Everybody loves the razzle dazzle. Bright lights, slick taglines and fancy campaigns are sure ways to lure in customers to make them feel like they’re part of the next biggest thing. But when the magic wears off, customers will start to scratch below the surface and look for real substance behind a company’s marketing claims. When you’re a startup coming out of the gate, it is important to steer clear of the mindless buzz and focus on telling your story like it is.

Shiny marketing strategies have their place in the business world. In über-competitive markets where competition is cutthroat, like the cellphone industry, there is a place for a little “creative” advertising. But no matter what advertising claims are made, customers will eventually find out whether the marketing messages are true or not. Startups need to focus on steering away from fluffy words and big promises, and deliver messages that dictate their story in a compelling, no nonsense way.

One of the greatest challenges for an entrepreneur is to tell their story in a simple, succinct way that catches peoples’ attention. Countless entrepreneurs make the mistake of over-indulging themselves in their own idea and trying to spread it like wildfire by making big, buzzy claims. Trying to get people excited with unsubstantiated statements will backfire in short order, as nobody likes to get fired-up on fumes – people want real substance.

Coming out of the gate, startups need to find a way to balance the excitement by taking action and demonstrating real traction. The best way to do this is to focus on methodically building momentum through a unified communication and marketing strategy. The key is quality over quantity. The success of any company will be determined if it can deliver unmatched value to customers consistently over the long-term. Therefore, it is unwise to try and “spread the word” to the masses for early stage startups (there are a few exceptions).

Rather, a startup should try and focus on developing relationships with a core group of customers or other businesses. This group will be able to participate in shaping the business at the initial stages and create some real buzz through word-of-mouth advertising.

The key to it all is telling a good story, which consists of a compelling tagline, a clearly defined value proposition, consistent statements and a hook to get peoples’ attention. The language used in the story should be simple, to the point and colorful. Nowadays, thanks to the advent of social media, there are many ways to spread a story at a low-cost: blogging, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Of course, good old-fashioned face-to-face networking will work the best.

The bottom-line is that startups should avoid making empty promises simply for the sake of marketing. Instead, they should focus on telling the real story in a way that makes people want to connect with the company in some way or another. A no fluff marketing strategy will help companies with real substance rise to the top and stand out amongst all the others trying to capture peoples’ attention with a few buzzwords.


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