A place for startup entrepreneurs to meet in Pune
*original post appeared on the Zepo blog.
Why does your Start - Up need Economical PR?
You are pretty confident in your business idea becoming the next business unicorn. You are firing on all cylinders working tirelessly towards achieving greatness. But you still feel that something is lacking. That something is Brand Promotion. Being a new name in the industry, this is the time when your organisation needs an economical PR strategy that is highly effective in reaching out to your target market. Without customers, your business won't fly.
There are several benefits of promoting your brand:
Apart from making great products, do you know what brands like Coke, Apple, Nike, Volkswagen have in common? Their excellent marketing and promotion campaigns that blew competitors out of the park time and again.
What comes to mind immediately when you think of an effective method of getting PR for your brand? Maybe getting an Ad published in a popular publication or even getting some TV coverage by a news / lifestyle channel. While they may be effective to a certain extent, they can be expensive and inadequate. Not to worry, because we are here to help. Check some of our tips and tricks that can help you stand out:
You might have been preaching the benefits of Yoga & Ayurveda to your friends for months now without effect. But Baba Ramdev has sold Ayurvedic products worth millions, and converted non-believers into Yoga enthusiasts relatively quickly. This is common human behavior. We value expert opinions more.
Try to position yourself as an Expert of your industry. This will give added weightage to your words as an authority on your industry / work.
How do you do this?
Once you build credibility, you will see your SEO improving with increased backlinks coming from multiple press outlets sharing your views. Journalists will start associating you as an expert on certain topics, and they would increasingly seek out your opinion on the same.
Before you pitch your startup story to journalists, make sure that you are on good terms with them. First, identify the journalists who are covering your industry, or have shared related posts that have been very popular in the past. Then reach out to all of them in order to develop a relationship.
The key here is to seem genuine. Like, comment and share posts of journalists on social media to build affinity. This will make you visible and known to them, and your pitch won’t seem so cold anymore.
Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a popular media tool that can be successfully used to generate PR.
HARO is a free service that provides a database of sources to journalists for stories and opportunities for sources to secure valuable media coverage.
You meet someone at a party, and he/she brags about owning 2 Ferraris and a house in Monte Carlo. You obviously have your doubts, but then a mutual friend comes along and reaffirms the story to be true. Then you find it to be more believable. An Influencer can be viewed as that mutual friend connecting your brand to your consumers.
Identify and track key people operating in your industry / domain. These people are known as Influencers because they have a large following on social media platforms, and their opinions hold clout among people.
Imagine you are a smartphone manufacturer and your latest product has 4G technology. Preaching the benefits of your 4G enabled device will be detrimental to your content marketing strategy. Instead, write a high quality blog post educating readers about 4G technology and what it does. This will help establish a level of trust in your readers about your authenticity as an authority on 4G technology.
Having been convinced about 4G and its uses, the readers now wish to buy a 4G enabled handset. Amidst all the brand clutter, guess which brand is going to stand out? The brand whose blog actually explained what 4G technology was. People would regard your brand as experts in the field of 4G technology, which will have a direct proportional effect on sales.
For a small or medium size business owner / startup, fighting off fierce competition from the established players is absolutely imperative. This is where content marketing has a very important role to play. It looks to play on the sub-conscious of readers and establish back of the mind awareness about the brand, rather than shoving brand content blatantly down consumer's throats.
Content marketing focuses on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content regularly. It will attract a clearly defined audience to incite activity that directly affects returns and growth.
The good people at 'The Minimalist' design agency have done some stellar work in the past with their visuals and creatives. While hiring a design agency may not be the cheapest option that there is, this serves as one of the best examples of how good quality content can go a long way in generating a buzz in the minds of your consumers. Here are a few examples of their work from their portfolio along with the Facebook response that their work managed to achieve.
High-Quality content coming from a proclaimed industry expert will help drive readership, and expose both the blog and the brand to a larger viewer base.
E-Mails have a high frequency of usage. We know that people spend a lot of time reading and writing emails everyday. This is one of the reasons why it has huge potential to market your startup at zero / low costs. It is a great method to engage with clients.
The trick to having a successful campaign is to send the Right content to the Right people.
Considering the fact that you are a startup, it is highly possible that your business is still in the early-stages of establishing a professional network. For that, you need to be prospecting regularly with people and businesses who can help you grow your business. It is a great way by which one can make introductory pitches about themselves and their start-up with hopes of a professional link-up.
Popular ride hailing app Uber is valued at 60 plus billion US $ currently. You would be surprised to know that founder & CEO Travis Kalanick employed Cold Calling in the company's early days to get a foothold in the US market. He had a success rate of 3 out of 10, which is pretty damn good in our books. Other successful companies that were built leveraging cold calling heavily are Yelp, Seamless & Groupon.
Try to be polite but firm, be inventive and warm, and make each phone call personally addressing the person on the other side by their 1st name.
It has the power to generate extreme buzz based on word of mouth, and can catapult an otherwise unknown brand into immediate stardom.
Some famous global examples of big brands that have successfully used Viral Marketing campaigns are: Redbull - Stratos and Old Spice's Smell Like A Man campaign. From India, the deodorant brand FOGG’s campaign “FOGG chal raha hai” has taken the Internet and TV by storm. There are jokes and memes being shared on social media that have made their tagline instinctively catchy.
Another campaign that went viral with their brilliant content was Paperboat's #FloatABoat campaign. The brand got people to make paper boats and share the image on Social Networks. For each image shared, the brand promised to donate Rs. 20 towards underprivileged children's education.
Paperboat's #FloatABoat campaign
Everyone remembers the hugely popular ALS ice bucket challenge that brilliantly used Cause Marketing to their advantage. It quickly became a popular fad around the world.
Chotu Chaiwala Campaign
This is perhaps the most talked about aspect in this day and age. Almost every SME / Start-Up is looking to get maximum coverage for the least amount spent. So what all aspects are covered here?
It is not completely compulsory for you to break the bank and go for a full service agency that will take care of all of the things stated above.
But, it does make sense to have a strengthened Online presence when it comes to organic search listings on the top search engines. Having non-existent Social Media activity and inactive Social Media accounts will be counter-productive towards the well-being of your business.
This is because customers are increasingly becoming one of the first point of contact for potential customers who come to get an idea about your company.
There are several ways by which you can tweak your Digital Strategy to function on a budget:
Every person you connect with, or every cold e-mail that you send out can bring in customers without you even realizing. It can certainly be a point of discussion provided the execution and end result is really unique and creative.
Nothing perks people up more than the possibility of getting free stuff. Rehash the same in the form of a contest, and try and involve as many people as your marketing efforts are good for. Make sure it is a fun, exciting and engaging opportunity for your clients.
The event will leave a mark on the minds of the participants, & the free Giveaways will maximize your brand recall, and people will associate the brand with a positive experience.
Here is an actual example of a low cost and effective PR strategy that our readers can relate to. Working on super-tight budgets, Mumbai based Marketing & PR consultancy Chrome Communications managed to whip up a frenetic PR storm for their event, 'The Silent Auction Pop-Up 2015'. Its USP was the element of placing custom bids on items that sellers had showcased.
It was a data-driven PR exercise that decided to focus on the target market and their specific interests. It was important to get the news out to the right group of people from the start. It narrowed down the cost of reaching out to people, and also ensured a greater chance of outbound communication succeeding in getting people to visit. From a myriad list of marketing activities, we have highlighted a couple of strategies that were deployed with great success:
The aim was to introduce the event, its concept and related details to the target market in such a way that it managed to grab the maximum eyeballs. Images and Visual Characters came into play brilliantly here. The characters in question were unique and fairly engaging, which helped break the clutter and stand out.
The event organizers decided to partner with a couple of popular figures in the Indian fashion scene, and had a sizable Instagram following. The people in question here are Santushi Shetty from The Style Edge, a fashion blogger and influencer with 167,000 followers on Instagram & Griva Dalal from The Fashion Trumpet, who has 34,500 followers on Instagram. It was a great move on the part of the organizers, as both the individuals wielded influence over the fashion loving populace of the country. It also created a buzz among the self confessed fashion lovers, who were the main focus group of the event.
Ultimately, it is up to you to figure out the right mix of activities that work best for your venture. More importantly, be patient because realistic ROI (Return on Investment) might take some time. Any Marketing strategy will materialize over a period of time, because it involves consistency of message exposure to really register itself on the minds of people.
Also, what worked for someone might not work for you. That's just how the game is. Good PR isn't about proclaiming your greatness to the entire world, but to a smaller focus group who actually matter. Be smart about your choices by thinking about the big picture. So don't be afraid to experiment, as you might stumble upon unexpected treasure in your journey of finding PR gold.
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