If you’re like me, there’s nothing more inspiring than advice from the old school entrepreneurs and visionaries who built the technology space we have today. Guy Kawasaki is the perfect example. What’s more, his advice is very practical and easy to implement.
But first, who is this Guy Kawasaki?
Well, Kawasaki was responsible for marketing the original Macintosh by Apple. More specifically, he was famous for using the word “evangelism” in technology and using advocacy to give Apple a leg up on the competition. In recent years, he was on the board of the non-profit behind Wikipedia. His books “The Art of Social Media” and “Database 1010” are among some of the most highly respected in the world of marketing.
Anyway, here’s what Guy Kawasaki has to say when it comes to advise for startups and entrepreneurs:
1. Create Passion Products and Ignore the Work of Others
Experience is very important but Kawasaki is always quick to point out the irrelevance of age. In many ways, the mogul says that inexperienced entrepreneurs could easily be better positioned to enter a new market when they’re doing something they’re passionate about.
For example, he often talks about the millennial population and their undying love for video games. When you pit a fifty-year-old software designer against a young enthusiastic designer with gaming experience, there is likely to be more success and relevance in whatever the younger of these two people produce.
How It’s Done – Guy has a fantastic way of explaining the simplicity of this point which also outlines how the best products are created through passion. He says that people should create products that they would like to use, especially if they do not already exist.
Takeaway – Businesses that place importance on passion are more likely to succeed than those that do not.
2. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Your Average Customer
Tim Ferriss is a great recent example of how entrepreneurs can use personal endorsements to boost their products. This is precisely how he found success with his first book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week”. However, Guy Kawasaki has been teaching this very technique for over 20 years and explains that endorsements from influencers are like rocket fuel for a mothership.
Kawasaki’s books were endorsed by many famous role models including Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson. However, he makes a point of saying that if you don’t build the best product, you can’t expect such testimonials.
How It’s Done – Although popular influencers are a powerful way to receive traction or recognition, average customers can be just as effective. Kawasaki recommends that every entrepreneur and startup gives online reviews the attention and respect they deserve.
Takeaway – Don’t underestimate the power of influencers – especially your average customer.
3. Use Excellent Storytelling to Market Your Brand
Storytelling might seem like a waste of time and resources. On the contrary, it has proven to be an excellent marketing strategy for Apple and almost every other major company in the world. However, Kawasaki is largely responsible for moulding storytelling into a strategy that companies can leverage now.
With this in mind, Kawasaki is always quick to explain that customers want to know what makes your product different. In other words, how did you come across this particular market and what inspired you to make this product?
How It’s Done – Storytelling is a craft that focuses on grabbing the emotions of potential consumers and connecting them with the brand. Kawasaki cites effective storytelling as the driving force behind a good marketing campaign. He explains how you can do this with a very concise statement:
“I think this product is amazing. I know so many more people like me who would also love to use this product.”
Takeaway – It’s no longer enough to sell the features and benefits of a product. Create a meaningful story that the target market will be proud to share.
4. Position yourself against the market leader
Many startups take an approach that tells potential customers they have a “one-of-a-kind” product or brand. In reality, they are most likely the newest member of an already saturated industry. According to Kawasaki, it’s a terrible strategy to ignore market leaders in this way. Rather, it’s always best to come out and acknowledge that competition exists.
For example, Guy gave a talk recently in which he praised the effectiveness of the Toyota marketing team. Instead of ignoring their high-end competition, the Japanese car manufacturer came up with a superbly smart slogan for the new Lexus. It reads, “We are as good as Mercedes and BMW, only half the price.”
How It’s Done – As with Toyota and Apple over the years, know your competition but make a clear objective to focus on explaining what makes you different or better as opposed to simply stating what might be construed as false claims.
Takeaway – Avoid ignoring competition in the market or claiming to be the first, only or best – unless this is undeniably true.
5. Practice Until the Sun Goes Down
When Macintosh first set out to compete with the big boys, Kawasaki was a marketing guru waiting to see what Jobs & co would come up with. Needless to say, the product was revolutionary at the time and highly successful but the road to this point was anything but smooth.
Back then, Apple went through endless tests to make the Macintosh but most of these tests resulted in failure. At the same time, it was also these tests that brought them the beautiful end product with which they were left. In fact, this was Kawasaki’s first brush with the importance of testing and the reason why practice is such an integral part of his advice.
How It’s Done – Guy Kawasaki says that it’s incredibly important to practice endlessly before putting a plan into action. He also goes on to explain how Steve Jobs used to practice into the early hours of the morning for his presentations even though it looked like he was making everything up as he went along.
Takeaway – If you want to master anything, practice is key.
6. Offer Superb Customer Service
The economic decline we’re witnessing has changed consumer behavior dramatically. For one, customers aren’t demanding an endless list of new features and shiny widgets anymore. In fact, most of them are switching to less expensive brands and postponing unnecessary purchases altogether. If you still want to sell to these customers, you must offer exceptional customer service.
Failure to make your customers feel valued can easily push them to try a different brand. Moreover, since work and home life are blending into one another and people are juggling more responsibilities than before, your customers will appreciate speedy services and efficient products.
How It’s Done – It’s important to offer your current and potential customers the best service you can provide. Furthermore, if you have a product, make sure that it performs its core function perfectly. Exceptional services with quick response times combined with an efficient product will help you retain your customers and win over more new customers.
Takeaway – Offer superb customer service and efficient products so that you can survive during a crisis
How to Build your Pitch Deck in 2023
In his book, The Art of the Start 2.0, Guy Kawasaki explains how to develop a winning pitch deck. A pitch deck is designed to introduce your brand to potential investors. Beyond offering a simple introduction, a speech deck does this in a way that sparks interest in your brand. According to Kawasaki, you need no more than 10 slides to do this.
This is where you provide your company name, your own name, and your role. This is in addition to the company address, your email address, and cell phone number.
Describe the problem you’re solving or the possibilities you’re opening up with your new product.
3) Value proposition
So you’ve told your audience about the problem you’re solving or the possibilities you’re helping people access. Now you have to prove why it’s important that you solve this particular problem. How does the problem really affect people in their day-to-day lives? Why should people be excited about the solution you’re offering?
4) Underlying magic
This is where you get to explain to your audience what makes your brand so different from its competitors. Moreover, if you have demos or prototypes of your product, you can blow your audience away with them. Ultimately, this is the stage where you convince your audience that your brand is worth buying into.
“If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a prototype is worth 10,000 slides.” ~ Glen Shires, Google
5) Business model
On this slide, you need to break down the structure of your business and explain how each part works. Beyond that, you need to explain why your business makes sense as a money-making venture rather than a hobby. In order to do this you need to:
- Create a buyer persona to represent your target audience
- Chart a buyer journey that you can develop a strategy around
- Explain how you plan to make money
- Validate your business
- Go through your proof of concept
“Explain who has your money temporarily in his pocket and how you’re going to get it into yours.” ~ Guy Kawasaki
6) Go-to-market plan
How do you plan to reach the potential customer whose profile you created in the previous slide? What platforms will you use to reach them, and how will you convince them to buy into your company? And, most importantly, how do you plan to do all this in a cost-effective way?
7) Competitive analysis
This is where you evaluate your competition and show your audience how you plan to stand out in your industry. What strengths can you capitalize on? What areas can you outshine you outshine your competition in?
8) Management team
Who is in your founding team and who is leading your business venture? Who are your advisors? Do you already have investors? If your team isn’t perfect, don’t let that bother you. It’s more important to explain how all the members of your team come together to make a formidable startup team.
9) Financial projections and KPIs
This is a three-year projection of your financial performance. In order for it to be effective, it should include predictions for not only revenue and profit, but also KPIs such as the number of customers (or MAUs), conversion rates, NPS, growth rates, and LTV versus CAC.
10) Current status, accomplishments, timeline, and use of funds
This is where the investors you’re talking to come into the picture. Outline your milestones so far and state how much you need in funding as well as exactly what you plan to do with these funds.
Aside from the above advice, Guy Kawasaki also urges startups and entrepreneurs to focus on their “why”. He also explains that there is no guide or rulebook in this sense and that his own “why” is paying tuition for his beloved children.
In order to attract investors, it’s also important to invest in creating positive publicity for your startup. However, this can be exhausting for a startup founder who already has to worry about product development and meeting investors. Just imagine how amazing it would be to let someone else worry about generating publicity for your startup, while you focus on perfecting your product.
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