How do you take your startup from a garage, basement, or co-working space, to a mainstay in the industry? Aside from your commitment and hard work, you also need high quality marketing. The right marketing will help you earn the attention you need to scale quickly.
Whether your focus is PPC advertising, influencer marketing, or inbound marketing strategies, these principles will help you prepare, approach, and respond when the time comes.
Number 1: Know Who You Are
Who are you? Really. Can you explain your company and premise in two sentences? Before you look for press coverage you need to determine exactly who you are and how you improve your customers’ lives. As author and speaker Angus Nelson shares, “Clarity is critical – put more work into this than any other part of your brand building efforts.”
He continues. “Your brand promise must be immediately understood, enabling potential customers to self-select working with you or immediately knowing who to refer your direction.” This is generally done in the very early stages of a startup, but it’s important to revisit regularly to confirm you’re still moving towards your goal.
This phrase should be in front of your team every day:
We help _(target audience)_ to do _(promise or solution)_ by _(your company’s super power)_ so that they can _(benefit of working with your company)_.
For example, a health-based tech startup’s version could be:
We help patients with diabetes better manage their treatment and care with our proprietary platform, so they can live healthier, more fulfilling lives with less worry.
If you can’t concisely describe your focus and your goal, then you’ll need to spend more time with it before spending money and effort on more marketing and looking for press coverage.
Number 2: Know What You’re Going to Pitch
Investors aren’t the only people you need to impress. To get the press coverage you’re looking for, you need to get editors’ attention with a few short sentences. (Which is where your statement above comes in.)
When looking for press coverage, you need to know what you want to say before reaching out to press. Ayumi Bennett, founder of Startup Southerner, shares the importance of a compelling story.
“When seeking any media coverage, do you have a compelling story about you, your team or the product. Why this product? Was there a personal journey that led you to have this idea? … Help us understand not just what the product is, but why we should care.” – Ayumi Bennett
Editors and writers are busy, and don’t have time to read emails that take a few paragraphs to get to the point. When you know your brand promise, you can very easily translate that into a pitch to an editor.
Number 3: Your Online Presence Makes an Impression
To make a great first impression, you need to look the part before looking for press coverage. Reserve social media handles, change from the stock profile image, and create at least a basic website. Looking credible will always help your pitch. Press will always check out your online presence before offering coverage, so you need to be prepared.
You may only have two web pages ready, but make those two pages look fantastic. Pay attention to detail, and make sure it looks on brand.
Megan Anguiano, Director of Business Development and Strategy at We Are Vanish, a web development and design firm, explains, “It’s crucial for a startup to have a website because consumers today rely much more on the web, especially mobile. Oftentimes with startups I see a lot of silly mistakes such as colors not matching or typos.”
With website design and development platforms like WordPress, it’s easy to achieve a professional look. This is worth taking the time and budget to get it right.
As someone who’s regularly approached by startups, Ayumi knows the right and wrong way to make an impression. Be prepared, and contact the right person. “Do some research about the media outlet before you contact them… Contact information for media outlets should be easy to find,” she explains.
And while your website is important, Ayumi also recommends preparing a folder of assets. This includes different forms of your logo (vector, PNG, etc.), product shots, and headshots of key team members. If a member of the press is covering you, they will ask for these files and being prepared maximizes your efficiency.
Bonus Tip: Solve the Problem, and Attention Will Come
There’s an alternative to this, though. When you’re solving a problem well and you’re taking care of your customers, the press will find you. As podcaster and audience development expert David Hooper describes, if you’ve put in the work to stand out and attract attention, there are only two things you need to do.
“One, do work that solves the problem keeping your potential customers up at night and, two, explain your solution in a way these people can relate to — something that lets them know you really get what they’re going through and you see them as fellow humans, not numbers on a spreadsheet.” – David Hooper
While letting the press know about company developments is still needed, you very well may be approached before you even consider asking.
Moving from bootstrapping an app or pitching investors to scaling a successful startup isn’t easy, but with the right marketing and press strategy, you can craft a compelling story. You need to know who you are and where you want to go, then piece together your strategy from available resources. Using the right marketing tools is critical to your startup’s success if you want to move beyond the garage and become an industry giant.
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