3 golden rules that you have to keep in mind to make your startup viral

Alejandro Brega
Nov 19, 2018 · 4 min read

In the medium term, a business model will only work if it succeeds in generating an organic growth of customers beyond the initial marketing investment. There are three golden rules to keep in mind that have helped startups to generate that viral momentum in the past. The measures may vary from company to company — but the principles are always the same.

1. Storytelling: Make your idea bigger than your product

Not the service or the product is in the foreground, but the business idea and what it stands for. Stories are about people, not about products — and a story is always bigger than the company itself. An idea is perceived as an innovation when it solves a problem that many people have. But companies are reluctant to talk about problems. In the process, they develop the dramaturgical radiance that makes the solution that a company offers exciting.

Startups often focus their storytelling on the founder personality. But this only works if the life or attitude of the founder authentically represents the business idea. Often it is much more effective to tell stories from customers — especially when a dramaturgical development of the user in relation to the company, the brand or the product is made visible.

The founder of the CRM platform for sales relies on storytelling. Be it in his lectures, his 30-day sales e-mail course for startups or the articles in the Close.io blog: The added value for the target group comes from Steli Efti’s experience. It stands out how often he places his own mistakes and his own failures at the center of the stories. The solutions he wants to sell with Close.io are all the more honest and substantial. With a statement like “We are the greatest”, Efti would not win any customers. Instead, he does not tire of spreading his credo, “Never again a great company because of a lack of sales”. This creates a field of tension that makes the motivation of the founder seem larger than the actual business model of Close.io.

2. Multiplication: Build incentives to share in your business concept

Ask yourself: How can I incorporate a customer multiplier into my business idea right from the start? A viral momentum can unfold when the benefits of a product are inextricably linked to sharing content and adding new users. This approach is particularly well-suited to offerings that bring together and organize communities and make their members publicists of content. These products work in principle like social media platforms: The user experiences the benefits only through the interaction with other users.

Example: Trello

The project management tool achieved within a very short time a great visibility and high numbers of users, because it not only provides the user with a practical added value, but the use results only in cooperation with others sense. Trello works well as a freemium tool, because everyone can invite everyone, the registration is straightforward and a lively interaction is the prerequisite for a sense of achievement. The intensive examination of the software and the feeling of happiness after completed tasks and projects bind the user to the brand. In addition, every user will receive free access to the otherwise paid premium offer for one month for the successful invitation of a new user. Binding and distribution therefore increase exponentially over time.

3. Organic Momentum: Publish relevant content for your target audience

How can companies that are still at the very beginning build an organic reach, if so far only few people know the commercial offer at all? The right vehicle is an added value that addresses the needs of the target group. Whether via social media or a company-owned online magazine: If the user encounters content that gives him answers to his questions, then he will want to more or less consciously deal with the originator of the content.

The content must always be optimized for reach — either via social media or SEO. The most common mistake is simply to publish exciting content and to believe that it would automatically gain a high reach. In addition, the content should always be linked to a conversion, such as a newsletter subscription or e-book download with address component. Otherwise, coverage will be generated, but one that has no value for the business.

The provider of e-commerce solutions for entrepreneurs has not only dedicated itself to the practical benefits for traders, but also publishes advice articles on its internal blog that appeal to both beginners and experts. From findings in communication science to practical instructions for dealing with e-commerce software: The user is comprehensively supplied with information that enriches him at all times of his customer journey. The articles tend to rank very well with Google and are linked to other downloadable content (again against contact data). These posts are not only interesting for the Shopify customers, but for all those who deal with trade, sales and communication. The occasional inspiring stories that directly refer to the product hardly bothers them, but also adds an emotional boost to the brand.


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Alejandro Brega

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TheStartupFounder.com — Startups, fintech, e-commerce, crypto and online advertising.