The Profs is a London-based tuition company that started up a couple of years back. They targeted the university market and immediately got a lot of interest from students. What was strange about the Prof’s experience was that getting the students wasn’t the problem. The problem was getting the tutors.
University tutors didn’t want to be associated with a startup that didn’t have an office. And so, in the beginning, it was hard. After a while, the company grew and could finally afford to rent offices in the middle of London. Recently, it was a runner-up in the Guardian’s startup of the year competition.
The experience of the Profs mirrors that of so many other startup businesses. It’s hard to get traction in an industry with so many entrenched players. It is also difficult to get around the problem that startups often look amateurish to customers. They’re not, of course. But they don’t have the marketing clout to convince people otherwise. So what can startups do to make themselves appear bigger and badder than they actually are?
Apply For Awards
Your startup doesn’t necessarily have to enter the Guardian’s startup competition if it doesn’t want to. But it’s a good idea to apply for awards if you get the chance. Industry and professional awards help to build credibility with your customers. And some awards bring significant cachet to your emerging brand.
Remember, in the beginning; your company needs as many endorsements as it can get. And so the praise of a professional body should be at the top of your marketing priority list.
Use Mail Forwarding
Not every startup can afford a swanky office in the middle of London. Most can barely afford to move out of their bedrooms. But customers don’t need to know that. After all, where precisely companies do their work doesn’t affect the quality of their product. It does, however, change customer perceptions, as the example above highlights. As a result, savvy companies use a mail forwarding service provider.
These services work on a simple principle. Startups advertise as having a particular address, usually in a desirable location. And then the mail is forwarded from that site to their home office or another place of work. This way, they end up looking much bigger than they actually are.
Be Hard To Get
Many people imagine that people working on startups are rushed off their feet with all the things they have to do. But the truth is that they’re rarely inundated. Most of the time their calendar is rather empty. Letting on that this is the case, however, is rarely a good idea. It says to the client that your services are not in high demand.
Instead of advertising that you have loads of free time, tell the customer that you’ll try to fit them into your hectic schedule. If you want to speak to them on the same day, say that you have an “opening” this afternoon. Otherwise, book them in for the day after tomorrow.