There are few experiences in the life of an entrepreneur as exciting as telling the world that your nascent firm is open and ready to rock-and-roll.
So after you've determined who you are (as I explained in part one of this series), the next step is making the big announcement. Here are four strategies to generate the biggest bang for your buck.
Tell the story of what marketplace need your organization fills through your customer's eyes. To do this, survey key prospective customers and ask two or three questions that will align with your solution, including:
- What are the top three business issues keeping your prospect up at night? After you get their answers, create a press release extolling your company's solution to this problem: "78 percent of widget manufacturers agree that finding a cheaper, quicker solution is their number one business issue; GeeWhiz & Co. was created to address this marketplace need."
- What are existing suppliers, vendors, etc., NOT providing? This should enable you to insert a powerful and credible quote in your press release: "Our survey showed that a whopping 68 percent of widget manufacturers felt their existing solutions providers were both too slow and too costly. That's why we created GeeWhiz," said John Smith, founder.
2. The press release
Now that you've verified the problem, write a clear and compelling press release to announce your entrance into the marketplace. Do not confuse a press release with a brochure or spec sheet. Create your press release, using the inverted pyramid model, by providing short, succinct answers to these questions:
- Who is your company?
- What product or service does it provide?
- Why did you create your product?
- How does your product differ from that of your competitors?
The answers will also provide trade, regional, and national media with the nuggets they need to craft an announcement; be sure to provide your company contact at the top of your release.
Also, since the entire world has gone digital, you should create a multimedia news release, or MNR, as well. This may sound daunting, but it isn't; you just include digital assets in the release. These can range from a live link to your website and prospect survey results to brief video testimonials from beta clients or board members. If you aren't sure how to craft an MNR, there are a plethora of PR services available such as MultiVu. And here's an example of an MNR we recently crafted for one of our clients.
3. Media list
Your MNR won't generate much coverage if you don't first prepare a media list; be sure to include the national media (regardless of your seeming insignificance). So find out which reporter, editor, or producer covers your industry for the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Inc., or CNBC.
Next, make a sweep of your industry trade publications and include the editors of even minor publications. Also include local and regional business media such as the local weekly shopper, major daily newspapers, and your region's version of Crain's New York Business.
And do some digging for email addresses of the most influential bloggers covering your field. Trust me, there are business bloggers covering every industry from aerospace to telecommunications (and most in-between).
4. Website, SEO, and SEM
Immediately place your press release on your company's website. It should reside on your homepage for at least the first month or two after you announce your existence.
Work with a social media expert who can help you identify key words and phrases with which you'd like your company to be associated (i.e. GeeWhiz's executives would most likely select words and phrases such as widgets, speed, economy, and cost-effectiveness). In addition to Search Engine Optimization, you should explore Search Engine Marketing. The latter is a paid arrangement and will enable you to advertise on key industry websites, blogs or media properties.
Create your personal digital footprint with Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, and send important media your press release. Follow what they write and share with your followers (who should include members of every conceivable target audience from would-be job seekers and viable prospects to fellow alumni and influential friends). If you spot an article that reinforces your survey results or core competencies, retweet it and compliment the piece. If you're fortunate, the journalist will spot your retweet and reach out to you to see if you'd be interested in talking for a story. (Note: this does NOT happen overnight, so be patient.)
The more attention you give to creating your digital footprint, the better your chances a reporter will find you, like your business model, and file a story. From there, it's just one small step to a prospect reading the feature article and, hopefully, hiring you. (By the way, the last part in the process is entirely in your hands.)
Stay tuned for next month's column, which will focus on case history development, a key weapon in any entrepreneur's war chest.