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We’re a startup — is it too soon to engage with IMPACT?

We’re a startup — is it too soon to engage with IMPACT? Blog Feature

Marcus Sheridan

Keynote Speaker, Author & Partner, Author of ’They Ask You Answer”, Presented 250+ Sales, Marketing, & Communication Workshops Worldwide

November 16th, 2020 min read

The majority of the businesses we work with have already established a presence in their marketplace. They’ve been around for a number of years and they boast full product lines and sales teams.

In many cases, they’ve begun to notice that the way they’ve been marketing for years isn’t working how it once did. IMPACT works with their team to embrace content marketing, digital sales methods, and SEO best practices as they embrace They Ask, You Answer

However, not all businesses are in that position. 

If you’re a startup, how can you go all-in on a customer-first business methodology when you haven’t had your first customer yet? 

Is it too soon to work with IMPACT on perfecting your digital sales and marketing strategies, which are still in their infancy?

Absolutely not.

Is it too soon to start They Ask, You Answer?

It’s never too early to start obsessing over your customers’ needs and concerns. You won’t even need to do much guesswork to find what those customers will be wanting to know. 

If your soon-to-launch product is entering an established marketplace, you can likely anticipate many of the questions your buyers will have.

If you are designing something that’s totally new and groundbreaking, you’re still launching it to solve a problem, ease a burden, or facilitate some aspect of life. I’m sure you’ve been thinking about your customers ever since you first developed the idea — even though that customer doesn’t yet know they’ll need and love your product. 

They Ask, You Answer began as a strategy I developed to save my struggling pool company. Now, more than a decade later, I’ve seen it applied by hundreds of businesses in dozens of industries.

They Ask, You Answer is, fundamentally, a set of principles that every business should agree with:

  • The buying process has changed, and customers use the internet to get informed about an upcoming purchase.
  • Customers buy from businesses they trust.

With these two tenets in mind, the rest of They Ask, You Answer comes naturally. Your customers are looking for information about your products or services — and the more transparent you are, the more trusting they will be. Therefore, your marketing materials and sales process should be designed to build trust with your prospects. 

While the exact implementation of They Ask, You Answer might look different at a startup than it would at a well-established company, that’s to be expected. The principles are broad enough and universal enough to be widely applicable.

If you want to know more about getting started with this business methodology at your startup, you can read my guide: How entrepreneurs can get started with They Ask, You Answer without a budget

If you build good content, they will come 

At the center of They Ask, You Answer is the requirement that you start producing content.

There are thousands of articles and guides posted online about SEO best practices — including some excellent ones written by my colleagues at IMPACT. But the most important guiding principle in content creation is not tech-savvy or cutting edge. It’s this: if you produce thorough, helpful content, people will like it. 

Of course you do need to optimize high-quality content by following a list of SEO tips, but content that is too salesy, sloppy, or incomplete will never be made better by way of the latest SEO hack.

If you start writing content today, you'll begin to develop a brand identity. But you need a strategy

Remember, you can always go back and amend earlier content if your offerings change or your customers end up asking different questions — but candid, educational content will help people know your brand, and help your website build its authority.

Publishing content is not ‘shouting into a void’

The content you create — that which tells the story of your business and introduces it to the world — will begin to establish your presence in search results for potential customers, even if your product is not ready yet.  

Too many people, in my opinion, think of content as a one-sided undertaking. You write your content, hoping someone will read it, but then never really get feedback on it.

The internet, to me, is the greatest democratic feedback generator ever conceived. Basic analytic metrics like traffic, bounce rate, and dwell time are an aggregate of user feedback. If people click on your content, stay on it, link to it, and share it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t.

Platforms like YouTube allow for comments, which can help you engage with audience feedback even more directly. (Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to get dragged down by comment trolls, but this should not be a reason to avoid all interactions.)

Use the data at your fingertips to adjust your content strategy. If people are finding it but not staying, try to understand why.

Is it too soon to start with IMPACT?

IMPACT prides itself on providing exactly what training and coaching each client needs. Our services are individualized because each business faces unique challenges and requirements. 

For a young startup anticipating the launch of its first product, IMPACT’s services will be tailored to your needs. This will start when you work with your account executive to carefully choose the right service offering. A program that’s best suited for a full-fledged sales team is unlikely to suit your needs.

However, our flagship program, Digital Sales & Marketing Mastery is likely a perfect option. It’s never too early to begin focusing on building trust, being transparent, and driving traffic to your website. A dedicated IMPACT coach will help your leadership team build quarterly plans that roll up into more ambitious and complete company strategy.

In addition, you will learn about creating an effective sales process, using video in sales, setting up HubSpot to track the efficacy of your content, building a content strategy, and more.

If your company begins focusing on these skills and principles when you’re just getting started, they will be baked into your very DNA. They will be the foundational building blocks of your company culture. 

Starting off with good habits

Much of the work we do with clients at IMPACT involves retraining markers and sales reps to more effectively approach today’s buyer. This means helping sales teams embrace virtual selling so they can compete in a video-first, post-COVID world. For marketers, this often means orienting their focus to content that directly aligns with sales’ needs rather than fluffy top-of-the-funnel content that doesn’t actually influence the company’s bottom line.

Suffice it to say, we do a lot of updating, breaking bad habits, and optimizing outdated processes. 

On top of that, we work to build consensus among team members, some of whom have caught the vision, while others have not. 

For a new company, there’s much less baggage to sort through. It’s not as much about breaking bad habits as starting off with good habits. Your marketers don’t have to worry about fixing all the sub-par content they’ve produced in the past. Your sales reps don’t have to cling tightly to the “this is the way we’ve always done things” excuse. 

And, new employees at a growing business are unlikely to resist jumping on a new initiative

While you want to make sure the program you choose matches your needs and your vision, now is a great time to get started with IMPACT, even if you’re just getting started yourself. 

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