You have a great idea, a great product and all signs point to your new company moving past being an initiative into a full-blown success. You deliver your project to investors, and everyone is excited.
What could go wrong? Well, the harsh reality of ecommerce means that even if you have successfully raised funding for your company’s product, getting it into the market and making a profit is no easy task.
In fact, quite a few emerging ecommerce brands might find themselves struggling in their first year.
We’ve put together a list to help you learn from others’ mistakes so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way:
11 Mistakes Emerging Ecommerce Brands Make
1. Listening exclusively to your friends and co-workers.
If you believe your direction is a great one because everyone tells you it’s great, you’re in for a very rude awakening. This is not an ego trip; it’s a brand strategy that either connects with consumers or it doesn’t.
Sometimes the best route is to engage with individuals that can provide an outside perspective from the same things you and others stare at every day. Embrace humility and ask others for feedback that eclipses your personal blind spots and biases.
2. Not listening to your team.
Your team has been working with you this entire time, and they understand things about the company that you might not know or consider. One of the most important elements is listening when your team gives ideas and suggestions on how your brand strategy can be executed in different ways — especially when they are coming from an outside perspective.
They are not as emotionally attached to the brand, so they can give more objective opinions about your ideas and how you should be executing them. Your employees are also on the front lines of talking to customers, getting feedback from them and understanding their wants and needs.
If there is something they think will resonate with the public that you do not, then you should consider feedback on it. They are an often-underutilized asset of your business, so make sure to listen to them as much as possible.
3. Not defining your audience.
Brand strategy works best when it’s specific. Your product may be suitable for a wide range of consumers, or it may work best for a specialized niche or industry. Either way, your brand must zero in on the demographics and their respective emotional requirements necessary in making a purchase.
No matter what you sell, your brand must convey the correct emotion, as buying is itself an emotional action. Spending time on a deep dive into your target consumer’s sensitivities will result in your brand becoming visceral and meaningful.
This could mean hiring a diverse staff, organizing focus groups or speaking with industry experts. It also means your brand should be talking to consumers on the phone, via email and social media platforms.
4. Unable to state the benefits of your products.
Many nascent brands make the rookie mistake of centering exclusively on the features of their products while neglecting the actual benefits.
As the old sales adage goes, “features tell, benefits sell.” While product specifications certainly have their place, it’s important for your new brand to highlight how products will impact people’s lives.
While that may sound lofty, it’s not. The first rule of marketing is to make sure it answers the question “What does this have to do with me?” If you can satisfy that in a way that helps someone realize how their life will be easier, more efficient, or perhaps even more fun, you’re on your way to a viable and long-lasting brand.
5. Not making brand promises.
On the heels of stating the benefits, now it’s time to make some promises. This isn’t about product guarantees unless you offer those as a policy. It’s more about what your brand communicates about the services your company will provide.
Everyone says their customer service is great, but what can you promise in the way that it will be exceptional? What can consumers expect in the way of shipping? What is it about your company culture that only you can deliver upon? You must state those differences in a way that becomes a rock-solid promise. This is what will make people talk about your company in a positive way.
Whether you’re an emerging ecommerce brand or not, it’s important to lay out exactly what people can expect from your new business.
6. Mismatching the look of the brand to the product.
We’ve seen it countless times. The legitimacy of the products can sometimes be undermined by bad branding. If you are also manufacturing the products, the labeling and packaging are critical to success. How the products are then merchandised is the necessary follow-up to making sure your offerings connect with potential buyers.
That logo you thought was cute might end up being illegible, creating confusion. If the branding omits addressing what’s important to consumers, you’ve missed the boat entirely.
7. Not keeping your eye on the data.
Because you’re a newer brand, you are just starting to collect real data from consumers — the only kind that matters. Be careful that you don’t jump the gun and make drastic panic changes just because you’re first seeing something that concerns you.
Not everyone is going to love you or what you sell. You’ve defined your audience, but your customer base will define it even further.
As the data flows in, your campaigns will be able to incorporate real facts. Don’t get discouraged by negative reviews. Every brand has that, and you need to take it in stride and learn from the data.
8. Thinking the data will answer everything.
Your spreadsheet data is never going to provide inspiration in and of itself. Your brand strategy is only as creative as the ones leading it. You can A/B test ideas all day long, but both “A” and “B” could be terrible ideas. You can always comfort yourself in knowing that the current version is what tested the best, but good branding is built on being uncomfortable.
Never let the data lead to a point of complacency, or your brand will become lifeless and boring.
9. Not thinking about the future.
While you need to be focused on the present, it’s important to think about where your brand is going and what it will look like when it gets there.
There are two reasons you should have this in mind at all times. First, your company culture must grow alongside your revenue. Nothing can stay stagnant for long, whether it’s the way your customer service speaks to customers or how they listen to them.
On the flip side, you must also always be aware of your long-term strategy. You may have great ideas for where you want to go with the brand, but if they are not practical now, then spend some time thinking about what you can do to get to that point instead of ignoring it.
If you are not being realistic about where you are and where you want to go, your brand strategy will be directionless.
10. Focusing too much on the future.
On the contrary, there is a push and pull with focusing on the future and staying grounded in what’s happening right now. You must be able to look at your brand as an asset that needs to grow and generate revenue but cannot forget about where you started out.
The personality of the company will be the main determinant of how long it lasts if things go the right way. That means spending time on your elevator pitch, brand story and how you talk about yourself when you’re not even in front of customers yet.
11. Trying to do everything yourself.
You may be the founder or CEO of this business, but you cannot run it all on your own. This is important for any company’s growth but especially true with a new brand (an idea that’s explained in excellent detail in this podcast from BigCommerce). There are plenty of people who can help give advice no matter what stage of development you are at.
Don’t try to go it alone, or you risk losing your ideas in translation. Your team can also help keep you honest about how well your brand strategy is working. If they are on board with the direction of the company and buy into that vision, they will assist you in making sure all decisions are still aligned.
A little bit of extra help will go a long way in the early stages, so remember that you are not alone during this journey.
The Final Word
Avoiding these 11 mistakes and heeding the advice we’re giving here will help you avoid the pitfalls emerging brands commonly fall into.
Enthusiasm is great, and you should never lose that spark. Seasoning that optimism with practicality will give your brand the directional environment needed for success. Your brand is a living, breathing thing that must adapt to the world around it.
If you let it die on the vine before its time, all of your work will be for naught.