Tag Archive for: startups

Ways for Startups  & Hypergrowth Companies to Inspire Radical Employee Loyalty

This presentation will take you less than 5 minutes to get through but will make you re-think your startup marketing efforts permanently.

In today’s world where disruption is everywhere, it’s never been more important for hyper-growth companies and their executives to think holistically about their marketing and PR – inside and outside.

Leaders at even the fastest growing companies can create empowered, full-filled employee advocates that supercharges every single business goal. 

How can CEOs of today’s fastest growing companies create thriving cultures where employees are your best advocates?

 

Download the presentation here:

Employee Advocacy for the Startup for Hypergrowth CEO

 

When Should Your Fast Growing Company Hire a PR Agency or a Marketing Firm?

With everything happening so fast in your hyper-growth company, when SHOULD you hire a PR agency? We speak to businesses all the time asking us if they’re ready for us and often, the answer is “no, not yet.” So, how do you know if you’re ready for an agency? We specialize in working with organizations with ambitious growth goals, so we’re in a good position to know what works and what doesn’t.

6 Signs Your Ready for a Public Relations or Marketing Agency

You Have A Proven Business Model/Product

It’s easy to think that if you had a PR agency or marketing company running things you’d have those customers you need to prove your product works. But if you haven’t been able to get a grass-roots movement on your product, the question is whether the product is viable and whether more exposure means more users/customers or not. There are simply times when throwing money at an exposure metric just isn’t the right thing at the right time.

Plus, it’s important for you, the founder, to get out there and get feedback on your product. You’ll learn things about your customers and your product that you really need to know. You should have a stable team and at least some certainty that the market wants your product. If you’re unsure, it’s too early for an agency.

It’s A Race To The Best Brand

There are some industries where the biggest distinguishing factor for your product is the brand, the emotional response customers have to your product and style. In these situations where you need scale and fast, having an agency is important because you’ll need consistent execution that also adheres to a strategy. Consistent press coverage is a defining factor for becoming the best-known brand.

You Have A Story To Tell

It’s heartbreakingly true: starting a company is not news. Globally, there are about 11,000 startups per hour every single day. You hear about 1/100,000,000 of them with any regular basis. The ONLY way to cut through the clutter is to have a real story. You something truly compelling, because journalists are soooo tired of hearing about “the <insert adjective> new CEO taking <insert startup community or vertical> by storm.

If you THINK you have a story, but need some help, call us. We offer a consulting strategy service that will help you flesh out your story and we can help you determine if there are any other gems.

You Have The Internal Resources and Assets

This is the moment when you’re probably considering hiring an internal team, but you realize hiring this group of people would require you to take your eye off your core mission.

Internally, you DO need someone who provides your marketing or PR agency with access. It’s this person’s job to interface with questions and changing directions. They need to be both in the C-level loop and empowered to give direction to the agency, which leads me to the next…

You Have A Budget Over And Above The Monthly Retainer

Whatever you’re spending on a Branding, PR or Marketing execution, plan on at least another 30%-40% for activation and assets. In the PR world, you’ll need assets (video, images, studies), events, and press services. In the marketing world, it’s one thing to create the content, it’s another thing to make sure it gets seen.

We provide an audit and a digital strategy program which allows brands to take the roadmap and either implement it for themselves or hire us (or another agency), this plan usually includes competitive analysis, campaign ideas, best practices for everything from content development to advertising.

You Have a Campaign or Project That Needs Person Power

The best time for a PR and Marketing Agency to come on board is when you need a variety of unique skill sets, and you need them fast. Sometimes, you have an idea or campaign that you need help to execute. Hiring an agency to identify opportunities, solutions (and potential pitfalls) is a good idea here because you’ll get that execution boost you need without having to recruit and hire a team. You need a team of specialists, amazing writers, creative graphic designers, analytics interpreters and you don’t need any of them full-time, nor do you have time to manage this in-house team of creatives, but you do need them.

5 Pre-Announcement PR Tips for Reputation Management

 

If you’re ready for a product launch, a funding round, or an executive announcement, now is a good time to look at how other people will see your company when they do more research.

 

Brush up your social profiles pre-announcement. 

No matter what your brand or your industry you always want to present the best first impression, your social media are part of that first impression. Ask yourself whether they’d be OK with you lifting a quote from your Facebook or LinkedIn and using it in an article about your business?

If the answer is no, check the privacy settings and do some cleanup. While we’re at it, check your photos and see if there’s anything there that’s off-putting or off-brand.

If you’re not sure whether your first impression is on-brand, ask others you trust in business. Ask yourself if you’re believable and trustworthy to a stranger and to your target audience? What would you think of your business if you just stumbled upon it on Linkedin or another social profile? Please consider these tips as a starting checklist.

 

Reputation Management: Google Your Executives & Your Company

While we’re at it, when was the last time you Google’d your executives and your business? Do your search while using Chrome’s “Incognito” feature and you’ll get a view of what others see about you first. Don’t forget to do an image search too. When you raise awareness of your company Google searches by the public and the press are fair game.

If you’re not happy with what you see, you can do some reputation management blocking and tackling, which will take some time. So be sure to do this well in advance of any major announcements.

 

Public Relations: Define Your Key Messages

What are you trying to say and to whom? What truly makes you special and why should anyone care. Remember, when you’re trying to attract press, you need a STORY, something newsworthy. Unfortunately, due to the sheer number, a product launch is rarely newsworthy, that’s not to say NEVER, but usually, there has to be a story to tell along with the launch.

Make sure you’re so prepared with your key messages that no one can distract you from your message, which is wrapped nicely in the context of your business story.

And while you’re at it, make sure that the press you’re sending your story is important to the readers of the publication or outlet your pitching.

Public Relations: Consider Media Training

If you’ve never done press before, it might be more nerve-wracking than you expect. Yes, journalists are people too, but it’s not their job to make you look good, that’s your job.

The journalist’s job is to write a story people will be interested in reading.

Sure, some publications will be very friendly, but all will appreciate your extra level of professionalism.

Spending at least a day preparing by recording yourself in front of a camera with some best practices for PR will pay for itself a million times over, because inevitably, there will be a question you didn’t expect, and having the tools at your disposal to help you keep your cool will give you confidence.

 

Content: A MUST: Good Photos 

Great headshots and product pictures are not a “nice to have,” they are a requirement. Don’t even think about sending a selfie. Make sure the images are high-resolution enough for print. If you have the budget, get a video too since you’ll use it over and over for all sorts of purposes.

You can have some photos done that showcase your  business personality, but definitely get basic headshots and product pictures on white and black backdrops.

You’ll be bummed out if you get the press of a lifetime but there aren’t any product shots or pictures of you and your team because they were low-quality or low-resolution.

 

Managing your online and media reputation is critical to your business, particularly if you’re a new brand, a relatively unknown brand, or your doubling down on an initiative like fundraising or an IPO. It’s shocking how few brands keep up with their own reputation. The thing about your reputation is that when it’s hurting you, you’ll never know because you can’t measure what’s not there. So be proactive about your reputation at all times and it will pay for itself.

Ah, the early adopter. They’re the people who grab on to things first, they start trends and they are influencers in their respective communities.

Whether you’re a startup, a movement or a personality, you need these early adopters. Marketing to early adopters can be slippery though, what they grab on to is almost entirely motivationally based. In other words, toss out your traditional “Three P’s” of marketing if you want to capture this crowd, you’re going to need to think through what makes them tick.

Whether you’re building a product or starting a movement, keep your early adopters in mind. Early adopter marketing will be easier if you keep these strategies in mind.

Early Adopters Value Intellectual Stimulation

It doesn’t matter what your target market is, a certain segment of them are early adopters and early adopters like to be challenged and stimulated. Puzzles and quizzes are intriguing to these people, but they get bored easily, so make sure the content matches the intelligence level.

Don’t mistake this to assume that every puzzle or quiz is intriguing to early adopters. They aren’t necessarily the “Buzzfeed” quiz takers. They like to learn and be challenged but they aren’t interested in dumbed down versions of anything. By the time something has caught mass adoption, early adopters have either “been there/done that” or are already deeply engaged in using the product.

Early Adopters Have High “FOMO”

Because they value their role as early adopters, they never want to be “out of the loop” or miss something that’s particularly cool.

Tap into that “Fear of Missing Out” during the earliest stages. Give them ways to be cool to their community by letting them be the gateway to a broader audience and you’ll be tapping into their desires to be seen as an early adopter.

Google generally does this really well when it launches products. It does an initial invitation to known early adopters and gets everyone else clamoring to be part of it in the first phase and SEEN as an early adopter. Google definitely has marketing to early adopters down.

Early Adopters are Attracted to Art, Emotion and Adventure

Perhaps more than any other target market, early adopters are pulled in by emotion, art and adventure.

This is one reason why Apple’s early emphasis on design caught on with early adopters, they loved the elegance of the product and interface, the art of the experience.

Remember, art, emotion and adventure can happen online and offline. This is a place where you can really get creative and have some fun. It’s also easy to identify these people based on where they go because events like TED and TEDX inherently draw early adopter personality types.

Because of this constant searching early adopters have, curiosity is a primary trigger for action. Tripping the curiosity trigger requires some thought because early adopters aren’t generally suckers for the usual mass-marketing techniques; they’re a little more sophisticated than that. You’re going to really have to think of something that genuinely makes them curious.

The “Why” Seriously Matters

Early adopters are very observant, they generally see through tactics and need a reason to be inspired.  Your marketing message to early adopters needs to be centered around something inspiring, something bigger than the features of the product.

Instead of focusing on product features, tap into the deep intellectual and emotional reservoir of early adopters and give some insight to them about why this product or movement matters. You’ll likely need to do some message testing here, but it will be worth it once you hit on the “why” that matters most.

Don’t Confuse Early Adopters for Extroverts

It’s easy to lump the two together, but research shows that messaging that targets extroverts actually repels early adopters. Early adopters like intrigue and creativity, they aren’t particularly attracted to social attention in a public way. This doesn’t mean they aren’t on social media, it just means that their triggers are different. They like to have their role as early adopters confirmed, but they also like to be the messenger of that delivery.

 

In your experience, what motivates early adopters?

 

This blog originally appeared on akamai-marketing.com

A little departure today from the usual marketing and branding discussion.
Because of our focus on startups, personalities and movements, I find that my role with my client is part strategy and part cheerleader.
So today, I want to share some strategies for overcoming fear.
Actually, overcoming is the wrong word, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

One of the things I encounter a lot with my clients is fear.
At some point, every entrepreneur, every creative, every personality encounters the devil inside.
The devil whispers into your ear and heart and mind, it’s like an ear worm that wiggles its way into your project and creates self doubt.

I’m not a therapist or a life coach, I’m giving this advice because I’ve helped many people through it and most honestly, from a place of “I’ve been there.”
I’ve started 3 businesses in my life, and recently, re-branded the third.
I know fear. I know fear intimately.
I’ve been living and feeding off of fear almost my entire career.
And for the most part, when I’ve harnessed my fear, it’s been my bitch.
That’s not to say I’m never afraid. Oh, no, do NOT misunderstand me.
But fear is so powerfully positive when it’s directed appropriately.
So the advice I give to others on this topic is advice I give myself.

The typical advice is to push that fear down.
Ignore it.
I don’t subscribe to that philosophy at all.
And here’s why:
YOU can use IT.
You don’t need to OVERCOME FEAR, you need to HARNESS FEAR.
Fear can be the thing that propels you through the hardest part of your project.
You can use fear like a shot in the butt.
Fear is the thing that gives you the adrenaline you NEED to stay up late,  get up early, come up with the next best idea.
In fact, I’d go so far to say if you’re not feeling a LITTLE bit of fear, you’re not fully vested.
So why NOT harness the fear and make it a positive as opposed to a negative?

Here are some tips on harnessing fear for different types of fear.

 

Fear of (In)Authenticity

Chances are, as you go through your product or persona, you’ll polish and change it.
Then all of a sudden one day, you’ll wake up and think “Is THIS what I really meant it to be?”
Have I polished and perfected so much that I’m no longer presenting the product as I meant it to be?
When this happens, go through your earliest notes, emails and brainstorms.
Check yourself. See if the process still seems authentic and real as a journey and evolution.
This happens A LOT in marketing and branding. Suddenly, someone is marketing your idea as something totally different than you originally envisioned.
Personalities experience this a lot too. What’s the difference between sharing everything and creating an authentic persona?
You CAN have an authentic voice without giving up your original vision. It IS possible.
Every single project is going to have a pivot point, a path of departure, a choice you made.
Take your pulse here and make sure that the path of departure still seems important and real and helpful.
AND that  the changes you made a long the way were well thought out, strategic and intentional.
If so, then use your fear to reconfirm you’re on the right track. Taking your own pulse once in awhile is a good thing. It’s what KEEPS it real.
If you find that you’ve lost your way, go back and find the point of departure and look at what you can do to reinject your original vision into the plans you have today.
Chances are you’re not as far off the path as you thought you were, but doing the exercise will put you back in touch with your original vision and allow you to reconfirm your original intent.
You’ll find that once you allow yourself to get back in touch with your original intent, then it will be clarifying to you and everyone around you.

 

Fear of Launch

This fear is the one that wakes you up in the middle of the night right before you’re ready to launch and says “YOU’RE NOT READY.”
First of all, let’s face it, a lot of this particular fear is about rejection. “What if I put something out there and no one bites. Or worse, they HATE it.”
Here’s the deal: put your heart and soul into something, stay committed to it and I guarantee you SOMEONE will love it.
That’s not to say that the love doesn’t take work to earn. That’s not to say that the love comes on YOUR timeline.
It is to say, let go of the idea of rejection. You can LEARN from rejection. You can shift, reinvent and accomplish based on rejection.
Rejection is NOT the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.
How can you HARNESS this to make your product launch better?
This is the stage that’s sort of like the night before a big college exam.
If you’ve done ALL the preparation you need to do, then use the fear to zero in on the 1 or 2 areas where you feel weakness, then you can use fear to focus on small, but relevant improvements.
Once you go through those 1 or 2 areas that you’re fearful about, and solve for them, you’ll feel more confident and your launch will be better.

 

Fear of Perfection

This fear is closely related to Fear of Launch, but it’s slightly different.
Here’s the one thing you need to know about Fear of Perfection: use it, abuse it and throw it away.
Nothing in the history of humans has ever reached perfection. Nothing.
If you let perfection dominate your launch and outlook, you’ll be forever paralyzed.
Do the best you can and if you have to touch more than three times, you’re allowing the fear of perfection dominate you.
Three times. That’s it. That’s all you get. Make ’em count.
That’s how you harness this fear.

Fear of Reinvention

This is the fear that says “it’s already been done before.”

I’m super intimate with this fear. I have several projects on the shelf suffering from this as we speak.
But here’s the deal with this fear: it’s total bullshit.
Because no one has done it the way YOU would do it.
Think about authors. If they said “I want to write a mystery novel, but someone’s already written that.” There sure wouldn’t be very much to read would there?
Every single one of us is inspired along the way by products, pieces of art, text, that us and millions of others have seen.
But YOU have a unique way of seeing it. It’s the unique vision, that unique voice that you have to offer.
Your take on the world is singular and interesting and unique.
In fact, chances are, no matter WHAT your building, creating and doing someone else is or has done it.
So sit down and think about your unique perspective. Clear your mind of everyone else’s vision, spend some time on YOUR vision, your voice.
I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again – the ONLY thing unique you have to offer is YOU.
So take a deep breath and use fear to clarify what makes you and your perspective unique.

Harness your fear and make it work for you.
Keep putting one foot in front of another.
One step at a time.
When you fell fear and anxiety creeping in, don’t look at the marathon, look at the next block.
Again, it’s not about overcoming fear, it’s about harnessing it.

I’d really love to hear how you have found ways to harness your fears and make it work for you.
Comment or send me a tweet!

Tag Archive for: startups

Building Community Around Purpose

THE PR CHALLENGE

Our client, a beta platform to provide parents with controls and tools for their kids’s social media usage was ramping up extremely quickly. They needed market research, but also needed real-time qualitative feedback to inform UX, branding and messaging.

THE PR SOLUTION

Since the target audience of parents was on social media and the product addressed key parental concerns on social media, our strategy was to utilize the platforms to create awareness of the product while also providing on-going feedback and community. We developed a strategy which gave parents early access while also offering them a place to discuss online safety with one another. We lead with community development and encouraged loyalty by providing a “safe space” for parents seeking resources. The community received early access to the tools and their conversations informed messaging and product development. Through a blend of owned content including organic social media and blogs, we provided resources and guidance to parents looking for advice surrounding social media. We engaged parental influencers and mental health experts to provide emotional support. All owned content was integrated into product development, PR and marketing initiatives.

STRATEGIC ADVISEMENT


In addition to providing community management services, we also ensured internal team members were empowered to engage their audience through community management training to ensure integrated internal understanding of the consumer and community.

DATA DRIVEN COMMUNICATIONS


Through social and media listening, we developed a data-driven feedback loop used in all marketing and communications, resulting in timely messages for use in marketing & media relations.

COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT


While providing social media resources to parents in the community, we also tested content types and styles to see what resonated most strongly with parents.

INFLUENCER ENGAGEMENT


We identified and engaged influencers who resonated with parents to review the product in both beta and pre-launch mode.

“From strategic planning to implementation, (they) demonstrated their expertise…truly a pleasure to work with,”


Jeana D.,
Marketing Director

THE PR RESULTS

2.8 Million


Organic digital brand impressions across social platforms including Facebook & Twitter.

252,000


Average monthly unique people reach on owned digital properties.

300% 


Increase in organic Facebook impressions. Our community of engaged parents and influencers were sharing tips & hints and engaging with our client’s tool providing essential feedback for both product development and communications teams.