At Sniply, we have no marketing budget, no Google Adwords, no public relations team, and no marketing department. Yet within a short few months, we managed to acquire thousands of users and start generating revenue. Sniply has been featured on more than 30 blogs and publications, an impressive feat for a top-tier PR agency, let alone a brand new startup. In fact, Sniply links have already generated over 7 million clicks!
How did we do this. Quite simply, we built a really strong brand and more importantly, relationships. We had no need for a marketing budget thanks to an army of product evangelists. Our users and fans support us by writing about our story and constantly sharing our product whenever they can.
Here are three key lessons to consider when building your brand:
1. Build a brand capable of weakness and vulnerability
Have you ever met someone that just seems too perfect? It is difficult to build relationships with these people. This is also how most brands behave. They flaunt their achievements, bombard you with press releases, and such perfection makes it difficult to connect with them.
Building a brand is like building relationships. By revealing your insecurities, you invite others into your world. At Sniply, we take pride in our weaknesses and vulnerability. Several months ago, we applied to Y Combinator, a startup accelerator in Silicon Valley. Even though we were rejected, we still publicized our whole experience.
We published our entire application and interview transcript, thus sharing with the world our first big failure. The story attracted more than 15,000 readers and resulted in a tsunami of supporters.
When we decided to publish our failures, we invited everyone into our story. Entrepreneurial journeys are filled with shining victories and crushing defeats. Brands are so caught up in flaunting their victories that they often forget the power of displaying vulnerability and the joy of simply being human.
2. Build a brand that expresses gratitude and appreciation
Have you ever met someone that constantly asks for favours and never gives anything in return? Meaningful bonds are formed through mutual support and reciprocated appreciation. It starts with the genuine expression of gratitude. At Sniply, we make it a daily activity to show our appreciation for the users who take the time out of their busy days to try our product.
We delight them with personal messages and craft thoughtful gifts. We strive to understand their personal needs, beyond our product, and we do everything we can to just be a good friend.
We engage in genuine conversations with no sales goal whatsoever. In a business culture that is dictated by the bottom line, we break just about every rule when it comes to productivity. Yet, time and again, these relationships create evangelists, and these advocates become the lifeblood of our exponential growth. Showing people you appreciate their time and expressing your gratitude can make the difference between a transactional relationship and a meaningful one.
3. Build a brand that is more about them than it is about you
Have you ever contributed to a project but never received the credit you deserved? It is safe to say everyone appreciates being acknowledged for their time and effort.
A brand is essentially a personality and they can be delightful or insufferable. As a startup, you may never have the resources to compete with larger players, but you can always pour your heart into crafting your company’s persona.
At Sniply, our About Page is less about our team, and more of a hall of fame for the people who made a real difference on our journey. We feature our mentors and advisors. We showcase our evangelists, fans, and friends. We are proud to have their support and they are delighted to be acknowledged.
Building a strong brand is really not that complicated. Treat your brand as a child and teach it to be a good person. Treat your customers as you would like to be treated by your friends. Start by applying what you have already learned living all the years you have — as a human being.