The start-up scene in Europe is as varied as it is variable — and its fast pace and variety match the zeitgeist of the main players: millennials. These understand work as part of their self-realisation: they are constantly breaking new ground and will often (sometimes more than once) take the leap into self-employment. The downside of multiple company start-ups is that the creative process is often neglected, ideas are not properly thought through and products are not properly tested — which inevitably leads in many cases to the product or service flopping. Because even the best marketing strategy cannot save a vague idea.
A marathon, not a sprint
The importance of endurance, patience, and dedication to long-term success can be demonstrated using the example of the South Tyrolean herbal expert and book author Gottfried Hochgruber, who now lives from his knowledge and enthusiasm for medicinal plants and alternative healing methods. It is clear just how much passion and hard work this 58-year old has put into his project — which goes far beyond his 2018 book — when we examine his previous career more closely. This also illustrates the crucial factors that ensure dedication and hard work will pay off in the long run.
Trust as a vital element of success
According to Hochgruber, the creative process — i.e. developing a product from the idea to the sales rollout — requires not only passion and stamina, but above all time.
Gottfried Hochgruber discovered his fascination with the healing power of plants at 40 years of age. For many years he researched, exchanged ideas with experts, deepened his knowledge and freely shared what he learnt with all those who were interested or who needed advice and support with health ailments. It was clear to him from the outset that these financially lean years as a consultant would form the cornerstone of his success because they constantly added (and continue to add) to his knowledge and ensured the trust of a wide fan base. He consciously avoided fomenting interest in his project during the development phase by means of classical (artificial) advertising. Instead, he took the time to listen to people and understand who his customers were and what their needs were. It is not least for this reason that Hochgruber enjoys great respect among his supporters — for whom his guiding principle, “always to focus on the human being as a unity of body, mind, and soul”, is realised through his actions.
The newsletter as ideal fan base medium
During these years spent offering advice, what is now an extremely important database for the marketing of his book, was created: all those seeking help from Gottfried Hochgruber or exchanging messages with him would be invited to receive a free bi-weekly “Health Newsletter” that looked into the relevance of herbal remedies to various health issues. He has already provided expert answers to some 950 questions, thus offering his subscribers not only genuine added value, but also keeping in touch with them, providing information — and at the same time promoting his book without explicitly having to praise it. The newsletter now reaches a good 2,700 subscribers and serves also as the ideal platform for announcing lectures and his — always fully booked — herbal walks.
Slow, sustainable growth
In none of his activities — whether lectures, radio and TV appearances or multi-day educational walks – will his book or the associated products be promoted, but rather herbalism together with the author’s personal experiences and accompanying maxims, usually presented with a wink.
His social media presence — a very late addition that only arrived in October 2018 — should be interpreted as further proof of the care with which Hochgruber markets his product and his brand — in other words, himself. Here too, nothing was rushed: the publication of articles only began when it was clear which communication strategy should be used for social media channels. Because, for all his passion and commitment, Gottfried Hochgruber too is, of course, dependent on a team of professionals and staff to assist him in his work.
Gottfried Hochgruber has made each of his choices with great care. He has sought out and maintained contact with people — his customers — and has always weighed up exactly what added value they would gain through his services or product. Continuous expansion of his knowledge permitted him, long before the first pages of his reference work were written, to create a solid foundation for its sale.
The book was by no means a strategic concept at the beginning of his activities — it emerged as a logical consequence of his consultancy work. The relatively small print run of 6,500 copies, which Hochgruber himself produced and financed, practically sells itself — once again demonstrating that success that is planned over the long term, based upon a carefully considered overall strategy, is also a valid model for traditional products — especially in times of rapid change and innovative start-ups.