Opinion

Stop building features, start building brands

By David Ams | 15 June 2016

Most of the entrepreneurs I meet are building a product, either with their team or co-founders (which I highly recommend) or with a development agency (ugh! See what I think about that here). They tell me about their project (when they’re not afraid of sharing it) with excitement and explain me why their product is going to be the next big thing in their industry. Everything goes smoothly until I ask them a very simple questions:

“Do you have a social presence*?”

As you can expect, the answer I receive is: they don’t, most of them are waiting for their product to be “ready” to start putting out content.

I really don’t want this question to be a challenging one, but it’s literally the first thing that I want to ask when people are telling me about their new projects. The answer to that question gives a lot of details about the level of connection they have with their target audience as well as the things they can potentially leverage in the future.
Do they deeply know what their audience wants or are they just making assumptions?

Are they already bringing value to some people who will be happy to do something for them in return? A leverage.
How did they identify the need for their product?
Do they have a community of early adopters to collect feedback from?

Do they have a competitive advantage?

Start building brand equity first.

The main reason why this question is important is because it’s too hard to have visibility for a product without having a brand or at least an established social presence. We live in a very very (very) noisy social world where attention is so hard to get. If you don’t do the work , chances are high for your product to be invisible at the launch and for you to completely miss your potential.
It has also become way too expensive to target an audience that has no attachment to your brand or to you. There is no way you can ask them to be loyal or to help your product to become a success. You did nothing for them so far.

Become an expert in your field, consistently ship quality content, and most importantly care about your audience. Bring them real actual value.

You are bringing the most value when you have nothing to sell or promote. That is why several months (or years) before launching a product is the best timing. Your content will be 100% authentic. It will have the right approach, and people will feel involved and will be happy to be part of your adventure. If you represent something they like, they will want to be in the movement. If you bring them enough value, they will be thankful and you’ll be able to count on them in the future.

Your product will never be good enough, go out there and tell your story.

Instead of focusing on that missing feature that will make your product “ready”, focus on how to create a brand people will love, and how to create real relationships with your target audience.

Your product will never be good enough. Instead of waiting for one more week for this bug to be fixed or a few more months for the V2 to be launched, go out there and build yourself or your company a strong brand people will want to be attached to.

I know we all want our growth to be exponential, and yes, building real relationships is not scalable. But by caring about your audience and by bringing them unique value, you will build the foundation of your business success. This crucial step might offer you the privilege to have other things to scale in the future.

David Ams
David is an entrepreneur and founder at HB-Studio, living in NYC. He is a social media addict, meditator, and traveler. You can find him on social @davidamse everywhere.