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Founders know that to move their startup from concept to commercial reality they need customers. No matter how revolutionary the technology or how much funding is raised, without users a business can’t last. You need to get the word out far and wide, and do it quickly before someone else takes the market share.
The challenge is finding the time to focus on the work that drives customer acquisition and retention.
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It might seem like a task that can wait – with feature roll-outs, hiring and onboarding, tech stack decisions and other operations – it is all too easy to let it slip from the to do list. That’s a false economy. Marketing and PR play a critical role in your start-up’s success. Here’s why.
No matter how hard you work behind the scenes, a ‘build it and they will come’ approach is never going to get onto a prospect’s radar. It doesn’t happen by chance. Marketing and PR are the drivers that feed a sales pipeline so you can keep growing. Potential customers need to know you’re building a product or service that solves their challenges. Then they can start a conversation about buying.
It’s easy to get caught up in the process of tweaking and defining a start-up, what technology category to fit into and which market sectors to serve. It becomes a problem when start-ups are unable to escape the planning cycle and move to the launch stage. They hold back on outwards facing activity so that they can work through the details one more time.
Instead, founders should embrace marketing and PR as a tool for testing, listening and feeding findings back into development. Until you make that crucial first step into the market, you’re making decisions based on assumptions. Instead, gather data, get expert insights and testing ideas in the real world.
The lead investor for your next round? The first thousand signups, or first big contract? The talented hire the business needs? They are all watching the market. Without a presence in the industry conversation you risk missing out on many growth opportunities. The aim is to build interest in who you are and what the business does, and develop momentum before it’s needed.
Take a product launch for example. Sales numbers and team morale will significantly benefit from having momentum on launch day. No one wants to start from scratch and on the day an app hits the marketplace. With no signups and trying to build interest fresh you’ll always feel like playing catch up. Instead, use press coverage to build a list of pre-registered customers, engage them with marketing and have them ready to download as soon as the app is live.
When founders are in the media and seen as the public face of their company it has a significant impact on the speed of business growth. Research has demonstrated the links between visible senior teams and brand trust, and trust is one of the biggest drivers for sales. This is particularly true in markets when your product is technical but your buyer or end user isn’t. Executive profiling bridges the gap between the complex details and the business results or consumer benefits you need to connect with.
Start-ups are always evolving, creating new approaches and testing new ideas. Your profile as a founder gives the market confidence that the company is led by a clear vision and mission, no matter how your product evolves.
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