This is another startup/small business case study about earned media. When you're starting out, there is very little budget to spend on advertising, so what can you do to get your brand out there?
A huge barrier you have entering the market against large competitors is MONEY. You have little to no money to spend on advertising. If you're trying to run your company debt free with majority stake, then you're probably focused primarily on running very lean and spending only as much as you bring in. This is different strategy than some startups out there with million dollar funding, where there is initial cash to throw out into the marketplace.
Here's how I go forward with getting media placements and TV spots to cover my business:
1. Use Your Network & Ask For Help
You need to get out there, meet people, and talk. You can also email them and ask them out for coffee. The point here is that you need to connect with people that can help you. I know many people feel like networking is sleazy. Trust me, I've worked with enough engineers so far to understand the loathe for those that talk business and then ask for a favor, but it's crucial when you need help to ask for it.
2. Be Genuine & Return the Favor
Don't be an ass. You may think you have the best idea in the world, but you're still starting out and haven't done enough to warrant a huge ego. I suggest you humbly ask for help and obviously return the favor when you can. For the people I've worked with, if there was some way I could send over a lead for a new deal or give them credit, I am happy to do so. Everyone who runs a business understands the hardship and there's an unspoken creed out there for us to help each other and return favors.
3. Your Customers
Your customers are the best free Earned Media! If you treat them right, they will advocate for your brand. This is how I connected with The Steve Harvey Show. One of my customers I met in Chicago at The Randolph Holiday Market was such a huge advocate and happened to be a producer for the show. She emailed afterwards to fit me into the show last minute. I still can't believe they let me banter with Steve on national television!
The initial covering for your business is crucial for its success because it helps build momentum and traction. What I've learned in the past few months starting and running my own is this:
1. Earned media validates new products to acquire new customers
Having other sources tell the world you're doing something cool is more believing than if you tell them, but obviously first you have to convince them that you're doing something cool by getting out there and talking about it.
2. People in entertainment/PR/media are angels that will help elevate your brand
Do not under-estimate these industries. I know there are negative connotations for these industries in the realm of technology, but you need these people. Those in marketing help build the sales pipeline & push products on a daily basis. You can make all the coolest products, but if no one knows about it, then what does it matter?
3. Be conscious about what you say and how you say it & practice public speaking
Public speaking ranks #1 in the worst fears. It's hard, but just because it's hard doesn't mean you can't get better at it. Public speaking never came to mind when I first started this out. Then I found myself in front of a lot of people all the time with all their attention on me as I spoke. What I find most helpful when speaking is the exact opposite. I try my very best to always LISTEN first. When you listen, you can answer questions and talk about things better. I guess this boils down to simply being aware. If you can center yourself, physically and mentally in high stress situations, then you can begin to take control and speak better.
I hope these tips are helpful! I had so much fun going on TV that I think I want to begin doing video blogs. I don't have time to edit and do extensive videos, but it might be a good time saver. It takes me about 30 mins or so to write these blog posts, so apologies on the sloppiness, but I want to record and share my thoughts because it helps me evaluate what I've done and how I can be better along with sharing knowledge. If I can quickly talk into the camera for a minute or so here and there, it might save more time, be more engaging, and fun for everyone!