With over 30 million entrepreneurs and counting, it’s clear that the startup scene is at its peak. That does not mean, however, that they are a success. 50% of all businesses fail within the first 5 years and if that doesn’t scare you, we don’t know what will. The best strategy is to not only have a great idea but market that great idea so that people know what you have to offer. If you haven’t read the part 1 to this post, please do so – we have some valuable information there that’s worth your time to read.
So we left you with starting your own blog, the natural next step is putting together a PR strategy.
1. Startup PR basics
There are so many questions that surround the use of PR:
- When should you publicly boost your startup? (Letting people know that your business exists and provides value)
- Do you get something out of promoting your business on industry-specific blogs?
- Should you hire a PR firm to get the job done or do you have resources to do the work yourself?
- Will press coverage translate directly into sales?
But doing PR doesn’t have to be that painful. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Significant positioning statements are essential
Meaningful and engaging positioning statements are the elevator pitch in the PR world. Effective writing is actually not as easy as it looks. The first step is to identify what your product is and how it will impact your users/customers. Your product is a solution to a problem, isn’t it? This is the basis of any marketing strategy, hence a PR strategy as well. You’re providing a solution to what should be a “worldwide issue”.
In summary, remember the three-pronged guide to crafting meaningful statements:
- What is my product?
- What is its impact?
- Who cares about the product?
These 3 factors are factored into to two sentences that allow you to market and pitch to the media. Remember, value proposition of your product is crucial.
2. Do a competitive analysis
Defining your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses will help you better understand how to market your product better than your competitor. Naturally. All your competitors probably succeed one another – go into the details: what is one competitor doing better than the other? Compare and contrast the “edge” that your competitor provides and see how you can do better with your product. Lastly, narrow down on one or two (at most) of the best features of your value proposition and craft something around them to attract media interest.
3. Finding the perfect writers for a Media List
Identifying the right writers for your product is vital for PR. It’s a time-consuming process, sure, but it’s an important one. You need to find the firm that provides writers that are capable of telling and selling your story. Pitch to the writers that fit your description. For instance, if you have a product that is going to be exclusively for Android users, it’s pointless to pitch to a journalist that only broadcasts on iPhone products.
Of course, you need to build relationships before you utilize them to your benefit. Always think of the bigger picture: networking is key and you never know what other venture these writers could help you with. Engage the writers on social media, build long lasting friendships and actively interact with them before you ask them to help you out.
4. Building a press kit
A starter press kit includes “media advisory”, screenshots and logos, bios of founders/co-founders as well photos. Media advisory would include background info on the product, the company and why it’s successful. Include the pitch in the beginning and of course, the positioning statements we mentioned earlier. Ensure that your media advisory is clear and concise and you will increase the chances of your story getting coverage.
Additional visuals such as company logos and images of your product should always be available for media writers if they plan to use them. Getting insight into what a product looks like and its features is clearly valued. Create a separate folder for each journalist so that you have things ready to go and don’t mix up in between.
5. Contacting journalists
Building strong relationships with journalists is key. Give them what they want, share what they would like to read, interact with them in meaningful, trust-building ways. If you come off as someone who is using them for their own means, they will be able to smell the insincerity a mile away. Create a relationship that will move on into a strong business bond in the future.
2. Creating and Curating Content
As mentioned in the part one of the How to Market your Startup guide, you have set up a blog by now and with your PR toolkit ready, it’s time to get into the full swing of content creation. You probably have a few amateur writers in your content creator bunch, hence, it can be a bit intimidating to maintain a fulltime blog or creating other content for that matter. Follow these four steps and you will make it a whole lot easier on them as well as yourself:
1. Make a list of topics that are useful to you
Instead of thinking up of a topic on the spot each time you have to write, have a list of topics ready to use. Remember how we told you to create a list of useful keywords for SEO aims? Not only can you create topics around those keywords but you can also use them within the blog itself to build credibility with Google’s search engine (think – the more specific keywords you have spread out strategically in a blog, the more likely that blog ((and your website)) is likely to show up when someone is searching for this topic). Also try using keywords in the titles for your blogs whenever you can.
Organize your blog strategy: put in order the way you want the topics to go up into a calendar – when should each topic be published? Think about who is going to write – maybe there’s someone with more knowledge about a particular topic and you might want to give them the opportunity to write more about that topic. An editorial timetable is essential.
2. Identifying what kind of content to post
There’s several different types of content you can publish that does not include blogging. Like with everything in the online marketing world, each has its own perks and downsides. Just because these options are available, it doesn’t mean they suit your needs. Keep your target audience in mind when creating and curating content. Here’s 4 different types of content you can publish:
Guides/eBooks: People want in-depth information about what you’re selling, your industry and how it can help them. A free eBook with all of this information and more is a surefire way to get a strong, “hot” lead. Simply ask for a name and email address before they click the download button so that you can obtain their contact information and then be sure to follow up once they have downloaded it. By following up, you engage the user and create a potential customer.
Webinars: Webinars are a great way to engage customers live, allowing them to interact with you in a whole new way. You can talk about your product, how it helps, how it’s useful and so much more. Additionally, you can tweet live while you’re carrying out the webinar – having other tweeters locate your webinar gets you more traffic. Simple yet effective way to generate new leads.
Newsletters: Regardless of what people say, email marketing is still going strong. One way you can use email marketing to your advantage is by creating and allowing users to subscribe to your newsletter. Of course, the general rule with email marketing is don’t go overboard. Every newsletter email needs to add value and not be another montage of why people should use your product/app. You can even try offering promotions, discounts and even carry out contest – the choices are limitless but the number of emails you can bombard people with, definitely are limited.
Videos: Have you ever thought about YouTube? Lots of companies are taking advantage of this platform to create content and reach out to customers by the millions. If you’re not that big into YouTube, you can just create a simple introduction video that can go up on your website’s homepage or the blog itself.
3. Taking advantage of guest blogging
There’s two ways you can make use of guest blogging. A) You can try writing for a popular blog and build your credibility over there or B) have an influencer guest blog for your blog so their users and possible others can come to your website and drive traffic upward.
Look for a contributor’s page on popular blogs that catering to your target audience. Most well-known blogs are very open to having new writers and fresh opinions. Write high quality, value-filled content that will be useful to people and make them think “hey, this person knows what he/she is talking about, I wonder what they’re about?”
Once you are credible enough and have a decent reputation, it will be much easier to attract and interact with influencers that can write for your blog. Once you have someone publishing something on your blog, the essential next step is to have them promote the post on their social media platforms (because they have a larger reach).
We have mentioned email subscriptions before but capturing emails can be differentiated into three groups: newsletter subscriptions, blog subscriptions and email submits. By email submits, we mean the email users get when they download eBooks, whitepapers or other content you offer on your website. Newsletter subscriptions have been mentioned earlier and blog subscriptions are basically the email you get when you subscribe to a particular blog. We suggest using MailChimp to manage newsletter subscriptions. For blog subscriptions, however, there are a variety of tools you can use.
3. Test your strategy and then test some more
So by now, you probably have some sort of marketing strategy going. But. And a very big ‘but’ at that: no marketing team gets it right in their first try. No strategy is perfect. You have to try a bunch of things before you figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
1. Utilizing analytics tools
Of course, there’s only one way to measure success and that’s through analytics. Specifically, Google Analytics. There are other more advanced tools like KISSmetrics analytics available but the best thing you can do for your beginner-level startup team is learning the basics on Google Analytics.
Each startup is unique, hence, each analytics setup will be unique as well. You might be looking at the traffic on your blog and where it’s coming from, while your competitor might be looking at leads coming from a specific social media platform. You also want to look at the bounce rate and see if there’s any issue with your website and if you need to speed up the load times.
2. Targets you need measure against
When you record your baseline metrics, you can use them as benchmarks later on to measure against. We recommend measuring week by week instead of month by month (do both ideally). Week by week measurement will show you how much you’re growing weekly and whether the growth is consistent. Additionally, if your growth takes a dip, be sure to pinpoint why the sudden decline happened. Was it because of negative social media coverage? Or something else perhaps? You need to know what you did wrong in order to avoid those mistakes going forward.
You have everything you need if you have a great team. A team that is knowledgeable and hardworking will put in the effort it needs to carry your marketing strategy to success. Empower them, give them the ownership to feel as a part of your team as anyone that is developing your product. In simple terms, startup marketing is not easy but if you figure out the right formula for your business, you can go places. Try not to let minor setbacks translate into big ones. Be vigilant and cautious of every new marketing tool/strategy that comes your way – not everything will work out in your favor. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Give it your all, and you will see the wonders having a marketing strategy can do for your startup.