So you’ve hired a communications firm, now what?

Here are a few crucial tips for startups on how to effectively use marketing and communications when they launch.

 

For the
majority of startups, communications is the only form of marketing investment for their
business. If you think of the Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned elements that
typically characterize marketing approaches today (PESO), Paid is far outside
the tight budget resources for most early stage companies. The beauty of communications is its flexibility and breadth, enabling a skilled comms team to execute the
“ESO” in PESO. 

Now that you’ve hired a comms firm, how should you direct the relationship in the first few
weeks and what should the focus be?

The Narrative: 

Once
your marketing consultant or firm is on board, the most immediate impact they should have is on your message and your company’s story. Ensuring there’s a
single, consistent message that ties into the news agenda, should be their
first order of business, along with testing that message with stakeholders.

The Plan 

Typically the second priority is to determine your launch strategy
and create a plan. Expect to pay for the development of these plans, in fact
insist upon it. Yes, this differs from the big request-for-proposals run by public companies who
get ideas for free in the pitch process, but you’re still building your product
and may even be developing a new category, so you need your comms partner to apply
their best, most informed thinking. That’s going to take time spent on your
business and we all know time is money.

The voice of realism

It’s crucial that you collaborate with your comms team on
the development of goals and expectations. While comms will drive targeted awareness, (for example, among investors or a
particular customer sector,) if you have a limited budget, comms is generally not great at driving the type of mass
awareness that leads to a million clicks. That takes a magical combination of a
standout viral product (think Dropbox or Pinterest), great timing, real news,
luck, and of course a wicked genius at the helm. And none of this can be
planned: overnight successes are rarely created, they happen. So if your comms firm seems to be setting expectations too low for your liking, listen and then
collaborate on stretch goals.

Guiding you into the outside world 

After months of product development, raising capital and
trying to snag the best people you can lay your hands on, you probably haven’t
given much thought to the outside world and media trends. Once your comms partner
has laid out how they propose to make your story relate to what reporters want
to write about, they will act as your guide, identifying who to tell which
story to, when to tell the story and how.

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