Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Kickstarting your PR Campaign.

Posted on: May 8, 2008

I often wonder to myself what is the hardest part in running a startup. I think back at my own days, and even at the present, analyzing the market, building the product, doing the test, finding a few initial trial clients, getting a mentor, finding one or two folks to help out, and even getting funded is fairly do-able. One of the hardest aspects of running a startup is in the art of selling. When you are a startup, when no one has ever heard let alone know you, and you are fighting every inch of compelling reason as to why you shouldnt just start customizing your products to everyone’s wits and whim and eventually become a service organization, it eventually does get to you.

Perhaps thats the reason most startups feel compelled to go after funding. You get funded, and you have a high chance of getting profiled on Contentsutra, covered by the other usual suspects like VC Circle and Venture Intelligence, which might lead to an article or two on the economic times – and heck, you might even be techcrunched.

Perhaps all this visibility, gives that illusion of discovery. And raises the hopes that selling will become easier.

It actually doesnt, by much actually. At times it even makes it worse by putting too much pressure and expectations on the founders.

Here are a couple of tips to get your started:

1. Building a Brand, and especially a following is a continuous excercise. Not a one time one.

2. Engage with your audience, and use a tone of familiarity and respect.

3. Ensure that responding back to queries is in the highest order of things, even if its not a relevant query.

4. Frame a message that is easy to convey. Dont confuse your audience with complicated novels as to what is it that you do, build or sell.

5. Keep your communication channels Personal. Not Use instead. Accesibility is an attraction in this layered, complicated world.

6. If you haven’t already, start a blog. Now!

7. There are a gazillion social media tools available to build a brand, a community, and the referral network to create impressions. Use and exploit them.

8. When the time is right, hire a PR Professional.

9. Attend Local barcamps, MoMos, and entrepreneur meets, as well as tech meets, and if given a chance do leap at the opportunity to share.

10. Visit universities and colleges, and the entrepreneurship cells. It’s a fabulous way to build a group of influencers for your brand.

11. Have an active social life. When your company is small, you are your company’s brand ambassador. No one wants to use anything that a dead-zombie-walking, has to offer.

12. Read, and comment on blogs, not just within your circle, but expand to what and where things are not the same old. Different does not mean wrong – could actually mean insights.

13. Keep a close eye on campaigns that youth organizations launch. Replicate such things on a smaller scale to grow visibility.

14. Once a year make it to a trade conference. Pick which one that is going to be. Start a six month campaign beforehand, get to know who all are going to be there, and build relationships towards that. Next year, focus on a region where there would be a fresh set of guys.

15. Leverage your mentors and their contacts.

16. Be nice to folks from the media, and bloggers. Not fake nice, but respect.

17. If you are selling to enterprise customers, run in circles where you can grow your influence. NASSCOM, TiE are sample corridors to be in.

18. Don’t sell, but create an awareness. It takes almost six pitches before someone actually makes a decision to buy. Pitch, without pitching. In this nagging world where everyone is almost a salesguy, be the marketer for once, and create your differentiation. Let them come to you and ask, if they could setup a meeting sometime to discuss.

19. Following up on 19. If you have been a salesguy all your life, people are going to avoid you like that insurance selling cousin of yours. Thats when you know you should stop doing what you are doing.

20. Promise and Deliver. Satisfaction = reality – expectations. Set the expectations right, and always over-deliver on what you promise. In this world of hype, people will stand up and notice you for your deliverables.

21. Constantly ensure that you listen to the feedbacks that you receive, do analyze them, validate them, set your pricing strategies updated and evolve in time. Keep this as an active process.

More to Follow.

2 Responses to "Kickstarting your PR Campaign."

Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

Chris Moran

Thanks Chris.

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