Eva Katz is the CEO of the Digital Bands Advertising Agency, the founder of Digital Bandito, an educational club for entrepreneurs, and a writer. The tips she shares in her social media networks, her speeches and interviews are actually a distillation of her own practice with no empty talk or outdated information. That is why we asked Eva Katz to give some recommendations for start-up entrepreneurs. You’re welcome to read and apply them!
1. Discover Your Uniqueness
The issue of a USP (unique selling proposition) often sends start-up entrepreneurs into a tailspin. Be ready to spend a lot of time to discover your identity: experiment, expand your horizons, combine various tools for promotion.
“When my mentor asked me what made us different I got confused and to be honest I’ve been looking for the answer for years because many people can do advertising. Finally, I realized that we have lots of cases in the agency when we involve non-standard promotion methods and combine different tools both digital and non-digital. For example, we sell apartments through the Pornhub website. This is a custom, creative approach.”
2. Keep Learning
No matter whether you are well aware of the field you are going to work in. What really matters is whether you are ready to learn. Be patient, push your ego away, and remember that one can’t do business, especially in the digital sphere, without constant learning.
«People often dream about their house in Tuscany but they are not ready to do anything for it. Such people aren’t likely to have a house in Tuscany. The key qualities of an entrepreneur are his ability to learn, diligence, the flexibility of mind, and speed.
I started working in digital marketing after a decade as a journalist and had no idea what internet advertising was. I started with an internship at a digital agency, and a year later I was launching mortgage programs for a bank and understood how these processes work.
I’ll tell you how I learn. I used to absorb everything, but I realized it wasn’t very effective. It’s best to learn what you need at the moment, for example how to pump up Instagram or how the PR niche works. The main thing is to immediately apply and put it into practice. Alongside, I read books: half in audio format, half in electronic format, and make notes. I also use Feedly, the service that collects news from different marketing sites, mainly the western ones.”
3. Decide On the Scale
As early as at the stage of starting a business you should think about the format: local or international.
“Consider whether you’re creating a business as a large-scale project or you’re satisfied that it will be local and you’re not going to expand it. The strong great businessmen I’ve talked to advise you to immediately plan your business as an international one. But a lot of projects are organized differently: businessmen create a local product and do not consider entering the global market.”
4. Find the Product – Target Audience Connection
Make sure the product you offer really solves the problem of your TA. Start small: conduct testing, interview the audience, and adjust the product if it doesn’t work.
“When starting a business, many people think that the product they offer to the world is something very important and will be snatched away from the shelves. However, people hardly snatch away anything now since there are lots of shelves with half of free products on them.
It is important to realize how well the product reaches your audience and whether you understand the connection between the audience and the product. First, do not try to catch all customers at once – divide your TA into segments. Second, do so-called customer development: examine the audience and get their opinion. Ask open questions, for example, how people cope with the problem that your product solves? Sometimes you may reveal that people don’t solve it at all because they don’t think it’s a problem and they just don’t need your product. Sometimes you may find out that the product can simply be adjusted a bit to make it more interesting.
Think big but start with a minimal working model. Don’t wait to have a product line and a store chain. Start with the first basic product, research the demand for it, investigate the audience, and then scale up.”
5. Develop Your Personal Brand
A personal brand will help at the initial stage of business development. But if you’re going to scale up, there are a few nuances to consider.
“If we talk about small and medium-sized businesses it makes sense to work with a personal brand. However, it’s a tricky thing. On the one hand, if the company’s reputation is based only on a personal brand it will be difficult to step aside. When you scale up and pass on the company management processes to other guys, it can become a problem. If those guys are wrong, everyone will think you are wrong. So, you’re going to be a hostage to your own brand.
I would recommend involving a personal brand as a separate activity. That is when you act not only as the CEO of the company but also as an attractive personality with many projects beyond business.”
6. Learn Behavior Psychology
Why we make decisions, in what cases we act irrationally, and how we can influence people’s reactions are all the issues of behavior psychology. It’s a must for entrepreneurs to understand it.
“Sales funnels are behavior marketing. Community involvement is behavior marketing. Pricing is behavior marketing. Whatever you consider up to product arrangement on the store shelves is behavior marketing.
For example, they ask you, “Do you like animals?” You say, “Yes, I do.” – “Do you want to join the animal protection club?” You join the community, and then you are told, “We have an action now in support of animals: you need to contribute 100 rubles. And you find yourself trapped: you’ve already agreed, called yourself someone and attached to some community. It’s very difficult for you to say “No” in the future. It’s called the principle of consistency.
Such manipulations are used in marketing every day. The chain of interaction and first sales are also based on behavior psychology. That means, if the client bought something from you for 50 rubles it is much easier for you to convert it further into a buyer than a new customer.
There are many interesting examples, and they are described in such books as “The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini, “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely, “Marketing Hack” by Phil Barden, and others. You look at the example, launch an advertising campaign, and try different techniques in practice. You mark for yourself what works and what doesn’t.”
7. Create a Brand Avatar
This technique will help to promote business more effectively on social media. Study carefully the interests of the audience to understand who you work with. Develop the strategy and message based on it.
“To properly represent your business on social media, you need to understand your clients and what they want to see. For example, in niche businesses such as yachting or the luxury sector, you need a specific approach.
Develop a potential customer profile, the so-called brand avatar, and apply the activities you are going to launch to this “imaginary client”. For example, you imagined that the brand avatar is Mr. Smith, a civil servant. He usually goes to a particular supermarket, restaurant, and sports club. First of all, this will allow you to understand that you can use his geolocation, not interests, to show him your ad. Secondly, when you think through your advertising campaigns, you imagine this very Mr. Smith. Will he participate in a fun contest on social media? Will he accept informal communication? Unlikely. To make a decision, he needs something else: real cases, reliability, privacy, and a serious approach.
Another project of yours deals with selling beauty salon services and offers pink or green hair dyeing and creative hairstyles. Obviously, the approach used to Mr. Smith will be inappropriate here.
To create a brand avatar, I recommend communicating with people in person and asking them questions. What they read, where they go, what they are interested in, who they subscribe to on social media, what they have bought over the past year, and so on.”
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Try to find new solutions and apply a hypothesis testing strategy.
“Many years ago we had one unsuccessful project. It was the flower business with absolutely no sales. When flower businesses came to our agency we honestly said that we were bad at working with this niche on the Internet. However, the clients kept insisting, so we eventually hacked into the system and learned how to sell in this sector.
Now our work is based on the system of hypotheses: we try different ones and analyze their efficiency. When the hypothesis doesn’t work, we mark for ourselves what works in this niche for this business and what doesn’t.”
9. Stay Adaptive
The pandemic and the crisis have shown that online business has a better chance to survive. If you’re just starting your own business, think about whether it will be easy to get it online. If you already have a business you’re going to digitize, develop a new strategy.
“You can adapt to online depending on the type of business. If your customers aren’t interested in the product and come to you just because it is offline, then you risk losing them.
To find new customers, launch digital campaigns. Depending on the niche, think about how to build communication with customers, which social media to use, which tools to involve, and how to understand that they work. There is no one-size-fits-all advice to give here, except for thinking carefully about the strategy.”
Before closing, here are 5 books for entrepreneurs on Eva Katz advice:
- “Everything is Negotiable” (by Gavin Kennedy)
- “Sprint” (by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz)
- “The Psychology of Persuasion” (by Robert Cialdini)
- “Predictably Irrational” (by Dan Ariely)
- “Marketing Hack” (by Phil Barden)