Creative Ideas to Add a Personal Touch in the Early Stages of Your Startup
In the early stages of a startup, you’re going to basically be working on an honor system. You know that what you’re putting out there is simply stellar, but the companies or individuals who are buying from you are taking a leap of faith.
Just like when you’re starting to date someone, it’s the more intimate experiences that count. Adding that personal touch will help you build the brand advocacy that will be the foundation of your brand growth.
So get creative! Use these tips to help you create a plan for developing a deeply personal experience for your very first customers.
Ditch the automation
We know it, we love it: automation is a marketer’s best friend. It certainly makes our lives easier in a myriad of ways! But all of our customers still want to feel like we’re speaking directly to them—so speak directly to them.
Startup founders have this luxury. While there is always a lot to be done, there should always be time to nurture your first customers, and you can do this by offering a direct line of communication with them.
There will always be time for automation, but in the beginning, keep things distinctly human.
Kill it with customer service
In the early stages of a business, you’ve got several key players wearing many different hats to ensure that all the key roles are covered on the operating budget you’ve got. As you get bigger, you’ll need to onboard new team members to specialize in specific tasks, and one of these tasks is likely to be customer care.
No matter how big or how small your company is, what people will remember is how you made them feel. And as such, providing epic customer service—with a human being who is properly trained, knowledgeable, and empowered—is essential to making your customers feel heard and supported.
Never forget that there are likely companies out there who provide exactly what you provide or something similar. While a great customer experience should be a given—especially for big brands—it’s not. Epic customer care is a personal touch that makes any brand stand apart from the pack, and for new companies, you’ll need that differentiating factor.
Be uber responsive
Taking that stellar customer care to the next level means truly listening and hearing your customers when they give you feedback. The early stages of your startup is a time to learn and take smart action.
When a business first launches, what you provide is your best guess as to what your target market needs. When you start to accumulate an audience and they tell you in no uncertain terms what they want, you best listen.
So be uber responsive. As the founder, you’ve certainly got to prioritize projects, but what your customers tell you they want or need should definitely top the list.
Having a company that hears them and is responsive to them is going to be something most customers aren’t accustomed to. This is going to set you apart in ways you can’t even imagine.
Show off your customers
Feeling heard is definitely awesome, but feeling appreciated and seen…. Now that’s something special. If your startup team has the bandwidth, you want to look for every opportunity to show off your customers.
This can be done with customer appreciation events, social media shoutouts, or you can even take a page out of my own client’s handbook and start a podcast to tell their stories.
Ultimately, there’s a million ways to show your customers some love; you simply need to be willing and assertive when it comes to shining the spotlight on them.
You may not believe this, but it doesn’t take much to WOW your customers. Most consumers these days are accustomed to big business, companies that take their fees and then leave the end user to fend for themselves. By upping your game with customer care—by being thoughtful and responsive—you can create a personal touch that will have your current customers becoming brand advocates and inadvertently acting as your sales department.
What could be a more cost-effective way to grow? Get creative with the way you serve and support these first customers and your company will reap the rewards.
Meet the Author: Shauna Armitage
Shauna is a Marketing Director or Fractional CMO helping early-stage startups scale with effective strategies, creative solutions, and unparalleled integrity by making the most of small budgets for maximum impact.
As a vocal advocate for women in business, Shauna is on a mission to redefine what it looks like to be a working woman and to support other women doing the same. She spends her free time traveling with her husband and four kids while drinking Coca-Colas. Connect with her on Instagram at @shauna.armitage.