Start Ups face a unique set of marketing challenges today. Particularly those with a digital bend.
Because an increasing digital divide is occurring between digital natives and digital immigrants.
The former speak digital like a native, the latter speak digital with a heavy accent. Often, venture capitals, clients and key stakeholders belong to the latter group. And these are the people that Start Ups need to influence, persuade and occasionally manipulate to ensure that you get what you need.
Let us canvas this digital divide for a moment. We are living through a paradigm shift in communications, technology, and marketing right now, and the paradigm shift we are experiencing is one that is moving us from the analogue, physical, face to face world of old to the digital, virtual, interface to interface world of tomorrow.
This freaks people out. It particularly freaks out digital immigrants who don’t speak digital as well as they’d like, or as well as their Millennial and Generation Z kids would like them to. Unfortunately, some of these guys are your key communication targets – be it in a pitch, a round of financing, as mHealth customers, or as CFOs.
Thus, you must learn to empathise with a generation whose emotional hearts are enduringly analogue, and whose rational minds may not yet have become digitised. You have to find the sweet spot between the digital and the analogue in your marketing that will win both hearts and minds of tomorrow’s stakeholders. You have to find the Digilogue.
The reason this is so critical for Start Ups is that you lack something. You lack face to face trust, you lack history, you lack the tangible, you lack the physical, you lack the belly to belly interaction, and you oftentimes sell the intangible.
You may be one of the lucky ones who operates within the digital echo chamber of Silicon Valley, where digital is in the DNA cross-generationally and it is spoken as if it was Esperanto, but if you’re in Sydney, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Stockholm, or Beijing you may need to polish your marketing and communication skills to ensure you capture your audience’s imaginations.
You may well need to learn a new language; you may need to learn Analogue, so that you can build a bridge between your digital ideas, and the analogue world views of your audience.
While established, bricks and mortar businesses struggle to capture the digital minds of tomorrow’s customer, Start Ups face the reverse challenge. How do you capture a segment of the market that is not on Facebook, who think that a tweet is a sound a bird makes, and who still express their emotions without using an Emoticon?
Here is a list of things any Start Ups must not digitise:
1. Belly to Belly Contact
When connecting with clients or pitching ideas, do it in person. Trust is still best built in person, and big deals usually close on a handshake. There is a reason that politicians love ‘pressing the flesh’ – it’s been said that showing up is 90% of the success. Make sure you turn up in the analogue world at the crucial junctures.
2. Create extraordinary analogue brand journeys
When clients visit your showroom, demonstrations, or product displays, make sure that every touch point is exquisitely designed, and that it elicits a positive emotional, analogue response. If your stakeholders pay you the respect of investing their analogue, face to face time with you, ensure that you make it count and that you leave a lasting, positive impression.
3. Post purchase support
When something goes wrong, and the client or stakeholders needs you, lean in the problem, be there in person, pick up the phone and do whatever it takes to fix it. There is nothing like analogue assurance, and oftentimes client relationships can be further deepened and enhanced when fixing a flaw.
4. A select number of marketing touch points
Google and Facebook distribute analogue, printed vouchers to trial their products. Why? They are wearing their digital hearts on an analogue sleeve, and trying to go analogue in their efforts to reach key demographics and in raising their profiles among digital immigrants.
When all the other high tech players went pure play digital in the early 2000s, Apple went Digilogue by combining both digital and analogue channels of communication and education.
Their concept stores, their geniuses and concierges signaled to digital immigrants that Apple was simple to use, and it developed a non-threatening stance, just like Zappo’s extended a human hand to its clientele, by offering great support and service via its analogue call centre in Las Vegas.
Start Ups face a unique set of communications and marketing challenges today. You must package the intangible, the innovative, the creative, and sometimes you are forced to pitch it to a core audience who are not early adopters.
The truly successful Start Ups who manage to pitch their ideas and gain critical mass and diffuse their innovations across society tread a fine balance between the digital world and the analogue world of communications.
They go Digilogue. This is the way to win the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s customers – the arbiters of a Start Up’s success.
Written by Anders Sorman-Nilsson,global futurist, innovation strategist, keynote speaker at TEDx and author of new book, “Digilogue: How to Win the Digital Minds and Analogue Hearts of Tomorrow’s Customer.”The book is published by Wiley and available in bookstores across the country and through Anders Sorman-Nilsson’s website digiloguebook.com. RRP $27.95.