The cure for Startup-itis.

startup sign 300x225 The cure for Startup itis.

Being in Silicon Valley, we’ve got more than our fair share of start-up clients. And we love them. The drive! The innovation! The scrappiness!

Yet I want to take two minutes to caution against a troubling new phenomenon. “Startup-itis” is a modern malady where companies are so determined to race off the starting block that they forget to lace up their running shoes. They become so keen on getting in front of consumers — bent on collecting Facebook Likes and Twitter followers like trading cards – that they leapfrog over the most critical component to their success (or failure).

The messaging.

Knowing precisely what makes your brand unique — and having an airtight way to describe it that will appeal to your audience — THAT, my friends, is the golden ticket. It turns even the most measly of marketing budgets into a fortune, because it transforms consumers into your sales force. If you can persuasively and quickly captivate consumers with something unique, they will try it. And if you deliver on that promise, consumers will tell everyone in their circles (especially if they are moms).

I’ve sat in on so many cart-before-the-horse conference calls lately, that I simply cannot be silent one minute longer. The best compliment I ever got was that I am “that rare breed who contributes to your business as if it were her own” and I will tell you this: if I owned a start-up, I would devote what little cash I had to nailing my brand message. Twitter, Facebook, Blogger Programs, Google, Yelp: they’re all distribution. Which in the sales funnel comes last, not first.

pixel The cure for Startup itis.

  • Nancy Lee

    Well said, sista! I’m saving this post for whenever I start my startup! Thanks.

  • Renee

    How does one know their messaging is clear and nailed? Is there a checklist?

  • Katherine Gordon

    Great question, Renee. There’s not a methodology, per se, but there are several exercises you need to go through — including review of your competitors’ messaging, testing of your positioning with your target customer, and using expert design and copy resources to make it sing. A potential client once asked: “If our messaging is correct, why do we need to hire a copywriter?” to which I replied: “What you have is accurate, but not compelling. It’s text, not copy.”