Ask most company Founders what they need most in the early days of their startup, and they’ll look at you like you’re some kind of fool: “Money of course!” And where is that money going to come from? “Investors of course!”
So startups focus on the endgame of getting some cash into the business, and the last thing they consider is love.
Say what! What’s that Zaborszky character talking about now? Yes, I know that love is probably not on the To Do List of most companies, but it’s hugely important. Let me explain.
The Friends and Family approach to raising seed money is a very natural route when many Founders are first getting started. Our friends and our family are essentially investing in us, not necessarily in the concept of the new company. They are putting a little bit of their money behind us because they believe in us and want to see us do well. On a wider stage, the same feelings of warmth towards an enterprise mean that crowdfunding campaigns are often successful in raising money for a specific enterprise or cause. Although the people joining the campaign may not know the business at a personal level, the key point is that they feel that they know it. They feel part of the brand, and are connected to shared values. This is very noticeable in pop and rock music, but extends to many successful campaigning groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, not to mention the zillions of people whose go-to device choice is always Apple.
What is the phenomena which drives this sort of dedication? It’s love, disguised as ‘fandom’. For a whole bunch of reasons, which are probably as mysterious as when we actually fall in love with another person, the process of becoming a fan of an organization is a complex process. But here’s the kicker: when it happens, we know it. Music fans like the sound a star makes, like her dress sense and values, like what she says on social media, and so on. The fans identify with the star, and long to be in a relationship with them. The star feeds that relationship through their music, their Public Relations activities, and over time the ‘relationship’ grows stronger. All you need is love.
Fans bring a massive advantage to any star, or any star-tup. Fans will always spread the word about their love, and amazingly, they’ll do it in their own time, and for free. For a business, fans are an incredible marketing resource that doesn’t cost a cent, and the more fans that are attracted to your offering, the more fans they attract in turn. It’s a rolling snowball phenomena.
Now you might say, “It’s all very well being loved, Matyas, but we’re in the business of raising money to get our enterprise started, we don’t need a Fanclub…”
Wrong! Fans not only spread the word, but they are a sure sign to any potential investor that there is a real demographic for your offering. If you can show that a significant number of people are already signed up to receive your newsletters, then of course that demonstrates that you have an audience. Also, among that audience there will be individuals who are likely to convert from leads into investors. It’s win/win.
Not every song a band records will be a gigantic hit. Not every business decision a startup makes will hit the target every time. The great thing about Fans is that because they love you, they will ride out the times when you deliver less than 100%, and will keep their faith in you. They will return again and again to hear what you have to say, and they will invest in, or buy, your offerings. And that’s why Love must be in the air in all of your communication with your potential audience – because that’s what you want to receive back: Turning vaguely interested people into Fans, and turning some of those Fans into Investors.
Surely that’s worth a few hearts and flowers.
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