How To Build Startup Credibility Before Your Brand
With the estimated 510 million live websites at last year-end, and 280,000 new ones being added every day, the biggest challenge for an entrepreneur is to get found, and get some credibility for a new startup. I can attest from experience that publishing a regular blog to properly showcase your brand value, even before you have it, is a most cost effective approach in time and money.
The biggest excuse most startup founders mention is too much to do building a product, mapping strategy, investors, etc. For blogging to work, you need to do it consistently and frequently, at least once a week, or the value evaporates. I know that finding time is hard, and good writing is simply not what most people do. But here are some key reasons for giving it a priority early:
- You can validate the need and your solution before spending money. Too many entrepreneurs spend big money on development, only to find out that the solution isn’t quite right. Feedback from your blog will tell you quickly whether anyone agrees with your assessment, and whether you have a customer base waiting.
- Find potential partners. Most of the people you would want as co-founders are now cruising the relevant blogs for ideas and partners. It’s a great way to find like-minded people, and get a dialog going. From a networking standpoint, it’s a lot more efficient than going to seminars and other industry events.
- Populate your team. Smart potential employees are also reading blogs to stay up-to-date in their field, and find the new leaders. More and more, employees work for people they respect, rather than companies. Take the initiative to put yourself out there. Of course, ultimately you want employees who can blog for you and your company as well.
- Cultivate early customers. It’s never too early to start a dialog with customers, as long as you don’t mislead them about where you are in the cycle. Build your brand and get leads today. There’s also the opportunity to do some consulting with interested customers to provide needed revenue while the product is still under development.
- Build your credibility with investors. A blog is an excellent vehicle to meet investors, before you are ready to ask them for money. You will also learn about competitors, who can’t resist responding to a well-written blog. Once you gain real traction as an expert in your space through the blog, investors will put you at the top of their funding list.
- Hone your communication skills. Writing a blog is all about communication, and that’s your number one job as founder of a new startup. Trying to write something down for someone else to understand quickly, will tell you if you really understand it yourself. Even if you use a ghost writer for your blog, the briefing process will enhance your skills.
- Your Google ranking will go up dramatically. Whereas Google and other search engines may take two or three weeks to list your new website in search results, new blog sites and new blog entries are indexed every day. From comments, you will accumulate external links both into and out of your site, and get additional ranking from Google.
Since a startup by definition is not a recognized brand, you are the brand, based on the social media culture of today. People assume your startup is real, if they see real people, and they will attribute credibility to your startup, based on your own credentials and the quality of information you offer through your blog. No person and no blog puts your startup at the bottom of a long list.
The best part is that all this is not a revenue drain. The major blog platforms, including WordPress, Blogger, and TypePad are free, and can be linked directly into an existing domain name to consolidate your overall SEO impact. In fact, many people are now using WordPress as their base website, as well as their blog. This eliminates even the standard site hosting fees.
Business blogging, or value-blogging, is all about helping others and helping yourself at the same time. I wonder how many of the high percentage of startups that fail in the first five years don’t have a blog? What’s holding you back?
Written by Martin Zwilling
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