How can Startups With Unique Products Create an Audience for Themselves
People are not accustomed to their idea, yet it is necessary for the product to exist to make lives simpler for many
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For entrepreneurs, it's all about the thrill of creating a product that is revolutionary and doesn't exist in the market. They want make an offering that people are not accustomed to, yet it is necessary for the product to exist to make lives simpler for many. While these startups start from scratch and mark themselves on the path of innovation, they also have another hurdle on their journey – educating the audience regarding the use of such a product.
Creating awareness becomes the first step for customer acquisition in this case. Entrepreneur India spoke to start-ups who are solving unique problems and have created products for which they need to explain the need of the product first to the audience.
The Challenge Becomes the Opportunity
While selling the product to retailers or convincing customers is the biggest challenge that entrepreneurs face, it also gives them the opportunity to learn and grow. While you may face hiccups on your way, the idea is to keep reiterating your marketing strategies to hit the right spot.
For Deep Bajaj, founder and CEO of PeeBuddy, his product was absolutely unique for no one had ever imagined of a product that will help women stand and pee in unfriendly toilets. According to Bajaj, their biggest challenge was finding acceptability within retail outlets to put their products on the shelves. "In hindsight this was the best thing to happen to us as we immediately went back to the drawing board and changed the strategy," he said.
They listed themselves on ecommerce portals and for credibility, reached out to doctors to recommend PeeBuddy for usage during Pregnancy & Arthritis – due to which pharmacies allowed to store their products. Very soon, mainstream chains followed suit.
Marketing your product needs the right strategies that address the needs of consumers. Ramakrishnan M., Chief Marketing Officer at Intello Labs, which deals with computer vision based analysis of produce from farmers, believes that entrepreneurs need to draw a fine balance between conviction and incorporating market feedback.
"It is important to see what the market likes and more importantly, what is it willing to pay for. If that means you need to tweak things a bit (or do a serious "pivot"), there's no shame in doing so. Eventually you can create a sustainable and scalable business and no one cares if you took a few turns along the way," he said.
For Intello Labs, which has to deal with the agricultural sector (farmers, food processing companies and retailers), it was the philosophy of "show rather than tell" that worked well. They started selling their dream to consumers by showcasing a product demo. "Explaining a new concept tends to raise doubts and defence mechanisms. But when they see something real they get excited, they want to know more and they eventually end up asking the question themselves – "how can I try this?"," he said.
Building Trust Through Social Media
In a time and age, where all a product needs is virality to popularize itself in the market, social media comes to the rescue for entrepreneurs. Videos and campaigns are strategized in a manner that more and more people catch notice of the product and their marketing campaign goes viral.
Narayana Peesapaty, founder of Bakey's edible cutlery, has edible organic spoons which allows one to eat them after they have consumed food. At the start of his entrepreneurial journey, Peesapaty tried many tricks – from setting up stalls at malls which he eventually couldn't afford to catching hold of morning walkers to educate them about the organic product that doesn't just prevent usage of plastic but also wastage of food products. Unfortunately, none of them worked. For him, his product seemed too good to be true.
But what came to his rescue was a blog written by someone about the impact of his product.
"The blog touched a cord somewhere. Soon after, there was a video by a news magazine which till date has 850 million views and I started receiving queries from over 132 countries. The planets aligned then," he said with a laugh. Videos and social media shares kept following (one video got a million views within an hour), and mainstream media too picked up the news giving a wider reach to his product.
The Trick Lies in Not Giving Up
While gaining the first bunch of customers might seem like a Herculean task, the idea is to be persistent and keep selling your belief in your product to people. Bajaj from PeeBuddy believes that start-ups face unique challenges every day and the only way to get a solution is by staying positive. Guidance from the right mentor too helps in your journey.
In true entrepreneurial attitude, one needs to stick to their belief and do away with unnecessary negative thoughts that come their way. "There will always be naysayers who are trying to discourage you. One needs unwavering will and courage to stay the course," said Ramakrishnan.