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8 Tips Game Developers Can Teach Startups About Crowdfunding



You are about to learn the power of game developers and the principles they live by which can cause any startup to thrive if followed correctly. Never have I met two guys who are more passionate about what they do than Trent Kusters and Blake Mizzi who are two of four directors from game development collective League Of Geeks (LoG for short). To date, LoG have spent about $800k AUD on creating their game Armello and have crowdfunded nearly half of that through Kickstarter.

In Trent and Blake’s mind LoG is a collective of artists trying to create experiences, build amazing games and wow their users, but what I don’t think they realise is that their business plan, techniques and execution is probably better than most Fortune 500 companies. They have taken gaming concepts and applied them to their business with overwhelming success. When you couple that with a supportive government in Victoria (Australia) who understand how important the gaming industry is to the local economy, you have a Master Chef recipe for success. (GET EXCITED!!!)

***The Secret Sauce of Armello***

League Of Geeks is a game development collective that is structured so that they can work and collaborate with developers all around the world. They have created a world first model that works by gamifying the development of their game.

One of the directors had worked for a large game studio before joining League Of Geeks, and after he had left a company that he helped create into a world-class brand, he was left with nothing. This studio had tried their own version of a profit-share model, but it left the hourly rate of developers at something that was less than the industry average. After a failed attempt at starting a studio with a profit share model and the experience of leaving a big studio with nothing, the guys thought there had to be a better way to remunerate their team members.

Instead of using a numerical share the guys pivoted their new studio to have a gamified points based system. The points are earned based on a successfully, completed and approved task within their project. As all the tasks are being completed, they are accumulating into a pool of finished points. The total profits of the game are then sliced up between the company (League Of Geeks) and all the contributors.

The more tasks you do, the more points you earn and the more your percentage is of the games profits. The most important part when coming up with this point system is to understand how many hours your project will take, how many points will be needed and what the projected profits are of the project.

When you know this you can mathematically work out if the hourly rate is fair for the work your contributors need to do. It is unfair if someone spends fifty hours doing work for you and gets $5. The system must be honest, and a contributor should be able to earn more money from points than being paid hourly by the company.

To manage all of this the guys use the Pivotal Tracker software that helps them to see the velocity of their project and at what date certain milestones of the game will be completed – they can even see real time distractions like this interview affect their output. How can you implement the world-class technology that League Of Geeks has come up within your startup?

Below are Trent and Blake’s top eight tips to creating a textbook crowdfunding campaign for your startup.

1. Talk with other highly successful crowdfunding campaigns

Before the Armello guys did their campaign, they spoke with the top Video Game success stories from Kickstarter to see what they did to be successful at raising lots of money. It’s a great idea to hit them with questions and find out from them what worked, what didn’t work and what they would do again. You could even take it one level above that and send them a copy of your draft crowdfunding campaign and ask them for feedback.

The guys spent months researching Kickstarter and they describe it as a bit of a dark art where you hear legends that something might work if you say it in a certain tone or if the moon hits a certain position then a different strategy could work. Even though you can talk with other successful campaign founders, and their campaign could do everything right, just remember that their success is for that point in time – another point in time might yield completely different results even if you mirror the campaign with your own story. Some of the techniques though are timeless and can work at any point in time.

One lesson that the guys learnt from speaking with these other video game developers was that they had backers that had paid for the $10k tier, but in the end they just couldn’t afford it. If you can’t make your goal without having big tiers, then you’re in trouble anyway. Not all, your pledges will come through, and you have to expect a 15% drop off when you come to collect your pledges. The most common pledges that fall off are the larger ones. You can also get some users doing crazy pledge amounts just to troll your project.

Other backers from successful campaigns received a reward to come and spend a day at the game developers studio and the whole experience was an awkward interaction where it didn’t feel like there was a fair exchange of value. In these situations, you can feel like your time is not worth $10k and that that person could have just called up, and you would have let them come down and check out the studio for free. The Armello guys learnt from this advice, and from a responsibility point of view, they decided not to have monster high pledge tiers.

Kickstarter has 200-300 categories, and there is no precedence for this type of economic model ever before crowdfunding arose. Every single one of those categories has different purchaser and backer behaviours, so it’s worth studying your campaign’s niche thoroughly.

2. Communicate your why correctly

Kickstarter provides what’s known as good money, which means that there is no real legal obligation and no interest on the money to be paid. A lot of the campaign owners and backers work on a trust system and are trying to fill a need, so it’s very important to communicate your why correctly. You have to have a good product and not just one that anybody can get anywhere. It’s always good to come to Kickstarter when you really need the money because this will come through in your pledge, and it did for the Armello game.

Putting up a campaign where you say, “we have made the product already but we thought we would raise money anyway,” won’t work. In this scenario, there is no reason for someone to jump on board. A crowd of people will usually jump onboard your campaign because of compassion for your cause or early access to your product. Early access is appealing when you make the person feel like they are guiding the development and helping the developer finish the final product not just early access to something.

“People want to feel like they are the savior and that your boat is filling with water and they have jumped on with buckets to stop you sinking”

3. Create a rally and cry

When your startup is told by the industry that there isn’t a market for what you’re doing, your campaign can help create a call to arms that there is a need and for people to show their interest. Campaigns that demonstrate that the only way for something to be done is via crowdfunding, seem to work best. A great example is a game called Star Citizen where the gaming publishers of the world thought PC Games were dead and these guys proved through their campaign that they’re not.

Your campaign needs to be something that can only be achieved through crowdfunding and is the last hope to get the project off the ground.

Sell the dream of crowdfunding that people can come on board and make the game or project better. Give the users a sense that they will get one hundred times the value in return for their $15 pledge. When creating this rally make sure the page flows in the best possible way it can. For example, if you have beautiful music that accompanies your project you could tell the user to click play on the music as they are reading your story. Once your final story is up on the site consider cutting out sections that you don’t need and editing each section down to half of its length – only keep the critical content.

4. Implement a multi-stage campaign that is well timed

You shouldn’t bring your product to crowdfunding until you have a demo, and in the case of a game, something that can be played in some way, otherwise you are raising money too early. Part of LoG’s success with crowdfunding was to implement a three-stage campaign. They, first of all, ran their 30-day Kickstarter campaign that made them $305k. They then followed this up with a two and a half month Slacker Backer campaign that allowed them to keep collecting pledges on their website after the campaign was over.

The final step was to follow all of this up with an automated Backer Kit service one month after the Slacker Backer campaign. Backer Kit has been specifically designed to import all your data from other campaigns and merge it with your Kickstarter campaign.

On a platform like Kickstarter, you don’t have access to your backers contact details or their location. Backer Kit brings in a lot more details about your backers although the users must volunteer that information to you. This databasing of your backers allows you to generate CSV files and reports in case you want to email them or find out the geography of the backers (great for working out your tax bill).

Once Backer Kit has all your data in one place, it then sends out a customer service / survey email to your backers to manage the after campaign experience. The primary function it does though is to allow backers to increase their pledge tier from the one they originally selected, say $35, up a level to something like the $55 tier. Backers can also add add-ons, update their shipping address and details, which allows you to not have to deal with the customer service end of your campaign and tie everything in together.

5. Video – lights, camera, action

A high number of people that go to your page will watch the video, so this is crucial. Only a small number of projects that don’t have a video actually get funded. For the video to resonate it’s a good idea to have you or one of the other founders talking to the backers and to get your team on camera as well. A good closing line to your video could be “we want to bring this product to life, and we need you to make this happen!”

Your video should sell the dream, have a call to arms, be short and succinct, no longer than 3 minutes and ideally have some juicy animation if you can. Videos that are longer than 5 minutes typically have a rough drop off rate of 90% so make sure you follow the 3-5 minute format.

Watch Trent show you how a good video should be presented

6. Try some of these promotion techniques

The first four days of your campaign are the most important and you shouldn’t intend on sleeping at all, only promoting your campaign like crazy in every possible way you can. 40% of your funds will be raised during this time so if you only get 10% of your total pledge, then your campaign is usually over. What you raise in the first four days of your campaign is what you will do in the last four days. Thirty-five days is the best length for a campaign so try and set this as the length if you want to be successful.

A technique that can work well on Kickstarter is to cross-promote other campaigns in your updates. This cross-pollination is well received and will see some mutually beneficial promotion occur early on – campaigns speak to each other. Outside of the Kickstarter platform the next biggest attributer to funds for Armello was Twitter and then Facebook. The Armello guys saw that as soon as they put out a tweet or a post, they would see an injection of cash into their Kickstarter campaign – you have to be there stroking those oars on the rowboat.

Thirty Days of Despair

A crowdfunding campaign typically has a spike of funds in the beginning, a spike at the end and a trench in the middle where no matter what you do you can’t seem to raise a lot of funds.

To prove that crowdfunding is a bit of a dark art, Blake and Trent said that during one part of the Armello campaign the guys got IGN (one of the largest gaming sites in the world) to tweet a gameplay reveal to millions of people on their Youtube and Twitter accounts, and they didn’t see a single bump to pledges at all. Three days later a smaller site called Kotaku posted another gameplay video, and this then caught the tail end of their campaign that helped them raise $150k. You never know which marketing campaign is going to deliver.

The engagement with your campaign is really important as to whether your marketing will work, and people will pledge. The projects that typically get funded have a high amount of comments, so it’s important for you to stimulate the conversation on your crowdfunding page and get people talking. The more comments you have, the better your curation will be within Kickstarter’s platform.

During Armello’s 30-day Kickstarter campaign, the guys were on shifts managing their page 24/7 and replying to people’s questions. If a user reaches out and then you reply back straight away and then someone else sees you answering questions then they will ask a question. To create this natural viral loop, you must be 100% committed during the whole campaign to be there no matter what. The Armello page even had some of the users calling themselves the champion of the game so Trent and Blake would answer their questions and address them as the champion to make them feel inclusive of a community.

Most of your pledges will be International – UK and USA are typically the highest. This means that you shouldn’t concentrate your marketing in one country and try and target a few of the places where you see pledges coming from. Three days after the start of the Armello Kickstarter campaign, Trent jumped on a plane to the USA to start promoting what they were doing at a convention – don’t be afraid to do the media circuit in person in conjunction with your online marketing.

The Bitly secret weapon

When you’re posting links to your crowdfunding campaign on social media you should always try and use something like a custom Bitly links so that you don’t have some giant URL that won’t fit in a tweet. These links are typically more memorable, easier for people to share and will give you greater analytics as to who’s clicking the link.

7. Structure your rewards strategy

You must have clear, well-defined goals that are easy to read and understand aren’t convoluted, and that offer people real value every time they step up. To achieve this, you will need to have a focused strategy with your rewards. For the Armello game, the main goal was to funnel everyone into the $55 tier and then if they got a chance, they would encourage backers to go to a higher rewards tier from there.

One of the secrets is not to necessarily have lots of backers, but to have a high amount of money raised at the end. Due to the strategy with Armello’s rewards, the game raised more than $300k with a very low number of backers, because the average pledge was $49, which is quite high for a crowdfunding campaign.

The Armello guys were able to get people up to the next tier because as soon as a backer purchased the game at the base tier, immediately they created something new that came out which communicated that it was better value to go up another tier. Then a backer moves up again because something new has been added into another one of the higher tiers, etc.

Against each tier, you should profile a buyer type. For example, on one tier the Armello guys based the tier around someone who would love the audio, on another it was a buyer that might like the story books, or someone that wants to be the collector, or someone that wants to be the hardcore gamer to get in early. Different buyer types could then correspond to different pledge amounts, which you need to estimate to work out how much someone might pay. People that like the physicality of collector items might be willing to pay more than someone that just likes the audio of the game.

When offering physical rewards like figurines, books or t-shirts it can be very easy to get a quote from a manufacturer, set the pledge amount and then find that when you come to fulfil that order the price to manufacture and ship can be a lot more expensive. The way to overcome this is to build in a large buffer in case the cost of your rewards are more than expected.

8. Community is everything with crowdfunding

Kickstarter allows you to build a community, and the core community are coming onboard for the ride. The platform allows you to make your biggest fans even bigger fans, and you’re making them champions to go out and promote your product.

You’re also making your product better because this community is then getting early access to try it out and help shape the direction of the product build better. The community helps to make you more accountable because when you hear the bad feedback you instantly want to fix the issues they are facing.

The majority of your funding from Kickstarter will come from people browsing Kickstarter. These people that browse Kickstarter are almost like nomadic tribes that go from project to project. When a backer puts in $15, they get to go on a roller coaster ride, and it can be quite addictive because of this.

Trent and Blake’s favourite books are:

1. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy – Richard Rumelt

2. Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart – Gordon Livingston

If you would like to play the League Of Geeks very popular Armello game, it is now available on STEAM early access here.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Armello games success wouldn’t have been possible without the support from The Arcade Melbourne (game developer co-working space), The Game Developers Association of Australia, Film Victoria, Screen Australia and Creative Victoria.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship.You can connect with Tim through his website



  1. Sebastian Klassman

    Sep 1, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Great overview Tim and very useful information for anyone looking to start crowdfunding. Structuring rewards in the right way, is also quite important. I think people need to be enticed, sometimes there are creative ways to do this within a campaign. You campaign will rely on it heavily. Thank you, wonderful read.

  2. Academic Papers

    Jun 8, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Wonderful articles in this post it’s very beneficial for me. Thanks to share this post.

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How to Create a Winning Startup Culture



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Some time back, in my infographic on 51 Business Mistakes that most Entrepreneurs Make, I had outlined that one of the biggest mistakes is that you do not give any thought as to what you consider would be a great startup culture. And, without good policies or HR to keep things in check, the startup begins to develop a toxic business culture. (more…)

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51 Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Dream Startup



startup mistakes
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So you’ve got an idea. You know it will work. And, it means the world to you.

You are an entrepreneur and you think you can rock the world with this one idea that matters to you the most. And, you set out to form the idea into a startup that you are going to nurture and develop into a blooming business in the upcoming years.

However, I don’t want to throw water over your dreams but, I do need to bring this “optimist” you into the hard and cold reality…….. the reality which says that 90% of all startups fail.

Of course, this can bring a great deal of uncertainty into your life and you got to be prepared to deal with it. You are also going to face a ton of challenges in your life which will force you to grow as an entrepreneur. But, the important thing is that you stick with it.

Of course, as Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s friend) once said, “All I Want to Know is Where I’m Going to Die So I’ll Never Go There”. No entrepreneurs want their startups to fail after putting in days and weeks of effort into it.

So, a lot of research has been put forward into knowing what does actually sabotage a startup?

Fortune reported that the single biggest reason startups fail was because they do not identify what the market wants before setting up their startup.

However, it isn’t as simple as that. An entrepreneur needs to perform a comprehensive business plan before he sets out with his business idea. Also, you have to know whether your business idea actually suits you or not. If it doesn’t then, you either you need to fine-tune yourself with your business idea or you need to change the business plan so that it suits you.

And, it is only after that, should you venture upon your startup.
Now, is that all? Of course not. The problem most entrepreneurs face when they first begin their entrepreneurial journey is that they don’t know what they don’t know.

That’s where they tend to make a series of mistakes that may cause great harm to their startup.

That’s why I scoured for successful entrepreneurs to provide me with information on what they think were the most common mistakes that startups do. Plus, I also got tips on how to avoid these mistakes.

You can check out the original article here: 70 Mistakes Startups Make And Tips On How You Can Avoid Them

Now, it’s your turn to do some work. Let me know what you thought of these mistakes and tips that entrepreneurs commit. Do you know of any other mistakes that entrepreneurs do? Comment below!

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8 Key Factors That Discourage Investors From Putting Money Into Your Startup



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Today’s ideas are tomorrow’s winning businesses. Ideas executed brilliantly and with proper investment bring your business success. That is how the world of business got the likes of Apple, Google, McDonald’s, Amazon and so on.

But why in spite of the brilliant and promising ideas at the core of their business, many startups fail to attract investors? Why do investors hesitate to put their money into some startups? Well, investors have reasons and only by deciphering these reasons we could get hold of some deterrent factors that hold them back.

Let us explain some of the vital factors that prevent investors from putting their money in the startups below:

1. Inefficiency or Absence of Leadership Qualities

Inefficiency is the most significant deterrent factor for pulling the success of most startups. This can also be referred to as the lack of leadership qualities. Investors always want to make sure that they don’t lose their money through a company that has an extraordinary business model but no efficient and skilled business leader to make it successful. When fetching investment from investors, you need to offer a clear prospect and detailed plan of how you are going to achieve the goals.

2. Lack of Trustworthiness

An investor puts his money on a venture purely on the basis of the credibility and trustworthiness of the business. This is why besides having a sound business plan with clear objectives, you need to establish the integrity in terms of the security of the investor’s money and how the fund is going to be invested to give results as per business plan.

If an investor has a feeling that the startup may not have enough customers to fulfil its financial liabilities or if it finds that the business is hiding some information, it may further push the trust of the investors down. Total transparency and establishing the faith of the business brand are crucial for finding investors in favor.

3. Lacking Experience in Business Management

You have a great business idea backed up by a sound business plan and solid trustworthiness based on your background, but you have zero experience in managing a business. This is a serious reason for an investor to deny making any investment in your business. An investor cannot put his money just to allow you trying and learning your management skills the harder and riskier way. Uncertainty is the single biggest turn-off factor for any investor and lack of managerial experience is synonymous to that.

4. Business Model is Not Sound Enough

You have a business idea, some efficient, competent and experienced professionals as leaders, the great stamp of trust and pretty much everything that make a company look promising. But what about your business strategy and business model? Are they sound enough to take on the market competition and challenges for business growth? Well, this is what investors are most interested in.

In most cases, a business model is what makes an investor think twice and even take a backward step from investing in a startup. After all, your business model and strategy will decide how your business and products will be able to withstand competition and become victorious.

5. Taking Investors for Granted

This is a big mistake on the part of many startups. Just by becoming confident in the potential and the soundness of the business model and prospect, a business can consider getting investors on board requires just a little effort and time. But in reality, getting investors on board is the toughest thing a business can think of.

This is why without proper and meticulous preparation, it would be foolish to approach investors for your business. Most investors receive hundreds of such emails and a similar number of approaches through other means and they coldly just let them pass. This is why you need to send them very detailed proposals backed by strong recommendations and referrals.

6. Targeting the Wrong Investor

Every business has a target customer base, right? Not all customers are interested in every product in the market. Similarly, not all investors are interested in your business. Investors based on their prior experience and industry exposure, put their money in businesses that they know like their own palm of their hand.

So, targeting an investor who has no interest in your business will only drain your energy and bring you unnecessary frustration. When you are seeking investors for your software startup, don’t approach someone investing in real estate business.

7. Non-Realistic Proposal for Funds

Investors normally come with huge experience of your industry and so they have a clear idea about the fund requirements for your business startup. Moreover, they already have invested in other ventures or have gone through many proposals. Naturally, they have every bit of estimate already in their mind. So, any proposal claiming a lofty and unrealistic amount will only face rejection.

This is why it would be wise to become meticulous about your estimation of the required fund and calculation of various cost factors. Have meticulous details about every facet of investment backed up by breakup of the costs. Only when you can convince them with correct estimation, investors can take interest in discussing the matter further.

8. Make Sure Your Product Solves a Customer Problem

Will any investor put money in building a simple calendar app now? No, simply because such an app idea has no value for the end users now. Will an investor put money in a product that has already been outdated and has no use? No, no investor has to even go through such a proposal for dismissing them.

Well, to fetch investment, your product must be thoroughly customer-centric. It not only has to solve a problem but has to deliver some competitive value in comparison to similar products in the market.

Obviously, finding an investor for a new business is not an easy task, considering the huge competition that businesses need to deal with. But, if your business idea is unique and you fill all those requirements correctly as mentioned above, finding investors may not be as tough as it sounds.

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5 Must Have Branding Tools for Your Startup



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Your brand is more than just the colors on your website. And for startups, it’s important to create a strong and memorable brand from the beginning if you want to stand out from the competition, scale your company, and find your ideal customers faster.

Here are 5 simple tools that will help your company avoid branding mistakes, take charge of your visual identity, and set a solid foundation for future growth:

1. Graphic Design Software

The word “design” doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Before deciding on your startup’s logo, colors, designs, and overall tone, consider working with a brand strategist who can translate the core ingredients of your startup into a visual identity that speaks to your target market.

Brand strategists have expertise in the psychology of colors, shapes, textures, and words, and they will work with you to make sure that your branding appeals to your target audience. Once you have those basics of your brand established, there are several tools that can help your company refresh and maintain your visual identity.

The absolute best graphic design tool for non-designers is Canva. While the free version has a lot of functionality, the paid plans offer more customization such as the ability to import your exact brand fonts and colors.

But if your company handles all of your design in-house, you will need something more advanced than Canva. In that situation, I would recommend Adobe Creative Cloud to startups who work on their designs in-house, as it includes top-notch design software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, InDesign, and more.

“Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room – Jeff Bezos

2. Visuals & Creative Imagery

Have you ever wondered where your competitors get those beautiful branded photographs that end up on their website? While it’s possible that they worked with a photographer, it’s also likely that much of their imagery comes from stock photos.

Here are my recommendations on the exact places to purchase stock imagery to improve your company’s branding:

  • Creative Market – A treasure trove of quality visual imagery where you can buy anything from stock photos, to branding mockups, to social media templates (Facebook cover photo, anyone?), to custom fonts… the options are nearly endless.
  • Adobe Stock – Beloved by designers, and the platform offers tiered pricing plans based on your image needs and download quantity.
  • Pixels – If you’re on a tight budget and just need to grab an image or two for a blog post, you may be able to find what you need on Pixels – which is great because all of the photos and videos on Pixels are free!

3. Social Media Scheduler

You’re a leader. You’re an entrepreneur. Your staff, board, funders, and admirers depend on you to make big decisions, lead the ship, and plot the vision towards your company’s future. You don’t have time to stare at a blank screen every day wondering what to post on Facebook.

By using a social media scheduling tool, you can sit down for a few hours, schedule batches of content, and schedule the dates and times when it will post to your accounts over the next couple of months. Then, once the content is posted, you only need to worry about responding to comments and engaging with your customers. 21st century efficiency at its finest.

Popular social media schedulers include Buffer and Hootsuite, both of which include free and paid plans. Not sure what exactly to post? Check out these social media ideas from influential businesses. And if the idea of writing and planning months of content still overwhelms you, our next tool will help you stay organized and on-brand.

4. Editorial Calendar

When it comes to your content, it’s time to step it up a notch and start thinking like a media outlet. Every piece of content that you put out as a company, whether it’s an e-mail blast, blog post, social media post, podcast, or video, needs to be aligned with your brand.

Each major magazine maintains an editorial calendar which outlines the overarching theme for each of the upcoming 12+ months. By establishing a monthly content theme in advance, they create a framework to generate and organize their ideas.

Consider creating an internal editorial calendar that will guide your startup’s content over the next 6-12 months. The software tool you use to maintain your editorial calendar isn’t that important — I like to use Trello, but you can also create a simple numbered list in Google Docs or Microsoft Excel. You may be surprised at how quickly the creative juices flow once you have an editorial calendar in place.

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” – Paul Rand

5. In-Person Networking

Offline efforts count towards your branding too! And if you run your entire startup from behind your laptop screen, you miss out on ample opportunities to build your business offline and gain local referral partners.

If you’re new to in-person networking, start by visiting or where you can browse for events in your area. Think outside the box when it comes to selecting events to attend. For example: If you’re a chiropractor, it makes sense to attend local holistic health meetups. But you could also attend a travel event and meet digital nomads who don’t yet realize that a chiropractor can help them recover after long plane rides.

Remember that you’re not at the networking event to make instant sales, you’re looking for referral partners and connections. Don’t be the person who tries to shove your sales pitch down everyone’s throat upon meeting them.

As you can see, there are many simple online and offline resources that can help you spruce up your branding, reach new customers, and pique the interest of your target market. If you take branding one step at a time and start with the tools above, you will be well on your way to creating a brand that your customers will cherish and remember.

Have you used any of these branding tools before? Are there any additional tools that have helped your startup’s branding shine? Share your thoughts below!

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