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5 Rules for Success from Guy Kawasaki for Startups and Entrepreneurs

If you’re like me, there’s nothing more inspiring than advice from the old school entrepreneurs and visionary’s who built the technology space we have today. Guy Kawasaki is the perfect example and to be honest, his advice seems to rain with a lot more practicality than most speakers.

But just in case you are not familiar, who is Guy Kawasaki?

Well, Kawasaki was responsible for marketing the original Macintosh by Apple. More specifically, he was famed 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 and 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 advice 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 even the inexperienced are better positioned to enter a particular market due to something as simple as their personal interests.

For example, he often talks about the millennial population population and their undying love for video games. When you put 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 produces.

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 who 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 using personal endorsements to leverage his products and this was precisely how he found success with his first book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week”. However, Guy Kawasaki has been teaching this very method for more than twenty years and explains that endorsements from influencers are like rocket fuel for a mothership.

In Kawasaki’s instance, his books were endorsed by many famous role models including Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson. However, he makes a point of saying that without the best possible product, there would be no 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

As you know, storytelling has long been a staple in the marketing strategy for Apple and almost every other major company in the world. However, Kawasaki is largely responsible for moulding this aspect into the strategy that these companies use in the modern day

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 and once again, he explains how you can do this with a very concise statement:

“I’m 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 than the target market will be proud to share.

4. Position yourself against the market leader

For many startups, they take an approach that tells potential customers they have a “one of a kind” product or brand. In reality, they are most likely new competition to an already established brand. According to Kawasaki, it’s a terrible strategy to ignore market leaders in this way and 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 manufacture 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 and co would come 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 mostly, 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.

Aside from the above advice, Guy Kawasaki also concludes many of his motivation talks by urging 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.

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