Nobody cares about your startup

Hello world, here we are. 

You built this amazing product, and NOW, world, HERE IT COMES! You count down from 10 and send your rocket ship startup to the moon and beyond. But all you hear is a sputter followed by a big *THUMP* as the laws of gravity pull your rocket back down to earth. 

What happened!? 

It’s reality slapping you in the face. 

As an entrepreneur, your cheeks might be red already from the many other realities that have set in during your founder journey. Let’s face it, starting a company is not easy. But there is nothing you can do about it except turn the other cheek. Succeeding as a startup, means lots of persistence and grit and most startups don’t make it. During your startup journey, you will be presented with one surprise after another, and it can at times feel like you are stuck on a rollercoaster as the mood changes from horror to euphoria back to horror.

As a founder, your company is your baby, and like any parent your child is the most beautiful and smartest kid that ever existed. At least according to you. If you take the rose-colored glasses off for a minute, you’ll discover that reality is a little different.  

The hard truth is: Nobody cares about your startup. 

Ouch. I know. 

But it’s not me being harsh. It’s me setting expectations for the amount of work that’s ahead of you in terms of marketing positioning and messaging. As a founder or marketing leader at a startup, it is your job to make the world care about your company and product. Nobody else will. 

If you can’t tell potential customers why they should care about your company or product, you will have a hard time becoming the rocket ship you have been pitching everyone. What you need is a compelling story that resonates with your audience. You need to answer questions like:

  • Why does your product and company exist? 
  • What difference does it make for those who use your product? 
  • Who is it a really great fit for? 
  • Why do they need to take action now?  

The holy grail you are looking for is called product market fit and, much like true love, you know when you have found it. 

As the name implies its about finding the right combination between product offering and target customer. Either you have the right product but the wrong audience, or the wrong product for the right audience. But there is no way to know if one or both are off, unless you create a narrative of why this product is right for this audience. Your story is what connects the two sides. The story you tell, is ultimately what convinces someone to buy from you, and is in many ways the most important piece. You would think that the best product always wins, but more often than not, it’s the best story that wins. Plenty of best-product-startups have failed, and plenty of good-enough-products have succeeded. The difference between failure and success is often the story surrounding your startup, and the way to identify that story is by running  a positioning exercise.  

Why run a positioning exercise?

Why even run a positioning exercise in the first place and what’s the end goal? The short answer is: It’s the best and fastest way to get focused and accelerate your business. Simple as that. 

It can be hard to slow down and spend time on a positioning exercise, if you are a startup where time is of the essence and everything is GO-GO-GO. But sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. Positioning is that way. If your product isn’t resonating 100% in the market, you can’t afford not to. You are missing one or more pieces of the puzzle and this is your opportunity to put on a Sherlock Holmes outfit and start asking questions. Doing it before you have built a bunch of features nobody wants will save you valuable time and money.  

You accelerate sales with better positioning

What you want to end up with is a clear story for why you matter, what makes you unique, who your customers are, and why they should act. This will all be formalized in a positioning statement that in turn will become the foundation for a majority of company activities going forward. 

Think of it as a strategy document that gets not only sales and marketing aligned but frankly the entire company. Everyone is singing the same tune and running in the same direction. And if there are any disagreements, they will come up throughout the process so you can address them now instead of tripping on them down the road. 

Great positioning sets the direction for everything you do in your company from your sales pitch, to your website, content strategy, and product development. 

Without a positioning statement, it can feel like you have to reinvent the wheel every time you need a new pitch deck, landing page, or sales collateral and they most likely won’t land with the audience.  

With a positioning statement, your sales and marketing team will breath a sigh of relief as they simply reference the list of unique selling points as they create sales collateral and close more deals faster. 

Dedicating the time on positioning will align your company, accelerate your sales, and make your company valuation go up. 

Need help with positioning?

If your story isn't quite landing in the market, I'd be happy to help you crack the code. You can read more about how I help startups with strategic positioning or go right ahead and request a meeting to talk more about your challenges.

Written by: Anders Maul

Photo by: Tyler Callahan


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A lot of startups start with the product and end up focusing too much on the cool technology that is underlying the product or service. It’s the build-it-and-they-will-come mentality, and it rarely works. The only way to know if you are telling the right story is by knowing your target customers deeply.

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