November 2019

Communication for startups: don’t just trust to luck!

Intuition, planning and perseverance are the indispensable ingredients that enable a winning business to first see the light of day.

But communicating its value to the market is what can give it the decisive ‘push’, provided it’s done in the right way – whether it’s the first steps of a new company at home, or the local market debut of a brand from abroad.

And in both kinds of business, there is an overriding need to get the absolute most out of the communication budget available.

Getting off on the right foot

Picture it: the initial compelling business idea has gradually become a reality. Developed in meetings and projects over many months, it has finally turned into that much-awaited startup.

They have defined the business model, the sales strategy and the agreements with partners and suppliers. In short, everything is ready – or almost. Because one fundamental stage is missing: getting themselves known in the market.

But how do they pitch themselves? How do they differentiate themselves from the competition? How do they make themselves ‘interesting’ for their target audience? Not to put too fine a point on it, how do they COMMUNICATE?

The methods, in fact, are many, each with its own rationale, pros and cons. But attempting improvised communications on the fly – with the attendant risk of choosing the wrong messages and channels – can lead to dangerous ‘false starts’.

The best choice is to entrust the work to a communication partner that not only has wide-ranging knowledge of the possible alternatives, but knows how to select and manage them to form the best fit with the business’s specific situation and budget.

What skills and value does this new startup bring to the table? What distinguishes it from its competitors? What is the strong point of its offering? The answers to these questions will form the basis of the messages that, with the support of the partner, must be conveyed with one voice. But how?

This is where the consultant’s ability to balance demands and budget availability comes into play – for example, understanding whether the preferred route is a content marketing campaign, an advertising initiative, a press launch, etc.

As previously mentioned, there are options aplenty – but selecting, fine-tuning and combining them requires skill and experience.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Including communication.

Differing only superficially from the above, and with similar implications, is the situation of the many foreign brands that decide to expand into Italy with a business that already exists in other countries. Even if, technically, they’re not startups, for the purposes of the local market it is very much the case that they are!

In this scenario, they can fall into the trap of considering it sufficient to replicate – without any form of variation – communication choices around messages, approaches and tools that were designed for use in markets that are socially and above all culturally different.

Then they ask themselves why what has produced results elsewhere – whether in the UK, US, Germany, France or any other country – hasn’t worked in Italy too!

The answer is simple: as in many other aspects of business organisation, communication must, in order to be effective, adapt suitably to prevailing dynamics, rules and, above all, differences in style. Otherwise, there is a danger – here as well – of getting off on the wrong foot and incurring the expense of unproductive investment.

In this case too, then, the choice of a specialist partner is strategic. For example, a consultant who can interpret the business’s specifics and ‘translate’ them into suitably localised messages, and who, where possible, is also able to capitalise on existing tools, by adapting website copy and marketing collateral to suit local communication style.

Or, indeed, who can build up a trove of existing case studies referencing clients in other countries, but select those that, by adapting and adding value to them, will appeal to local audiences, turning them into effective promotional tools. This is the BMP approach – working alongside startups of all nationalities and sizes, through tailored projects that optimise available resources and maximise return on investment!

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