The power of PR as a fast-growth accelerant
Huddle co-founder Alastair Mitchell on engagement and the stories that will make your business stand out
Tech City is a hub of innovation, so how do you even start to stand out from the crowd? How do you make yourself attractive to investors and prospective customers?
This is where PR and marketing step in and I’m sure I don’t need to highlight how key they will be to growing your business.
But before you start hitting the phones to let the world and his dog know how great your product or service is – stop and think. Before you start, you need to make sure you have your strategy clear in your mind. Ask yourself:
- What differentiates my product or service?
- What audience am I targeting?
- Is it something IT departments would buy or are we looking at business and programme managers?
- What is the company’s vision and brand
- Where do you see the future of the product?
You want to ensure that marketing and PR activities resonate with your target audience. Brand awareness is often the first thing you think of for marketing, but it’s more than just letting people know you exist.
Whilst of course it’s important that people have heard of you, you want to make sure they have heard of you for the right reasons. You want to demonstrate that you are a thought leader in your space.
It’s essential that the founders / co-founders and management team are involved in this part of the marketing activity as they are the figureheads of the business and people will be most interested in what they have to say:
- Why did they found the business?
- How did they do it?
- What advice would they pass on to other entrepreneurs?
It’s also vital that the companies spokespeople get out into the big wide world and start networking at events with prospects, customers, press and analysts. Be visible.
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Getting noticed by investors
With start-ups all scrabbling for investment from venture capitalists, it’s important to get under their noses. Do some research, what kind of publications are they reading? Tailor your pitches to focus on these publications, but of course make sure you are pitching something relevant for that publication.
You never know when they might pick up that paper so a steady flow of interesting news and customer stories is a must. If you have the cash, invest in some creative campaigns that will really get your name out there.
You’ll also need content that appeals to your all-important potential customers. While potential investors will be interested in your business model, funding, management team, a steady flow of customer wins and new product developments, your prospective customers will be keen to know more about how your product or service is being used by other people.
It’s key that people grasp how your offering will solve problems and make their day-to-day lives easier. At Huddle, our aim is to transform the way people work and ensure we help people to get their jobs done. Demonstrating how our customers do this is essential. Your technology becomes much easier to understand if a customer can say: this is how we are using it and here are the benefits.
Engaged customers will become evangelists
Developing strong relationships with your customers is key, not only to support a customer advocacy programme, but to ensure your product or service is going in the right direction. Customers provide invaluable insight into how your offering is being used and how they feel it can be improved.
Listening to their thoughts and demonstrating that their feedback has been incorporated into the latest product updates and enhancements will prove how important customers are to your business and they’ll appreciate the fact you listen to them.
The more involved customers are, the more likely they are to talk on your behalf and become a company evangelist. Having someone from outside of your company talk to the world about the merits of your company and product is the strongest endorsement you can get.
Whether you choose to take on an agency or keep PR in-house is up to you and what you think is right for your business. If you expand across different territories you need to ensure your messages and stories are tailored to these markets, so you may want to bring in local expertise.
PR forms an essential part of your marketing strategy, complementing advertising, social media and lead generation. With a strong marketing team on your side, you’ll boost your profile and raise that brand awareness.
Alastair Mitchell co-founded enterprise content collaboration company Huddle with Andy McLoughlin in 2006. Since then the company has raised $40m of venture capital in a series of rounds, has offices in London, San Francisco and New York, and names 80% of the Fortune 500 and UK central government as its clients. http://www.huddle.com