Last week, a few members of the Walker Sands team visited Catapult, Chicago’s peer-selected tech hub. We were joined by a handful of its current residents to help answer their questions and facilitate insightful conversation around how marketing can help to elevate their brands and reach their company goals.
Our very own John Fairley and Meghan Spork led the conversation and fielded questions surrounding the traditional PR and digital aspects needed for a well-rounded marketing program. The companies attending had diverse backgrounds ranging from law, travel to fintech, which led to interesting perspectives and fun conversations full of lots of new learning.
Here are a few key highlights from our discussion and helpful information for other startups looking to add marketing to their strategy:
- Press releases: Too often startups issue a press release and think that reporters will come calling. That may have worked 15 years ago, but not anymore. And when operating with a limited budget, it’s important to understand when to issue a release over the wire and when it’s best just to post it on your website. Press releases are a great way to archive your company’s milestones and should live in a newsroom on your site. They’re great for SEO, helping to theme your website and can act as a good resource for you and prospects to reference.
- Social media:When you’re running a business on limited resources, social media is an effective resource for grassroots marketing. Different platforms attract different audiences, so tailor your posts to who is reading. LinkedIn is a better place to reach VC firms and other possible investors, while Facebook and Twitter are better platforms for reaching your customers or potential new hires.
- Account-based marketing: It’s the biggest buzz phrase for marketing in 2017 and for good reason! We touched on the psychological factors behind creating personal messages that go beyond your basic mail merge. Before you send out any personalized videos, emails or other content, it’s important to refine your list and target prospects based on their stage in the buyer journey and customize messaging that will resonate with them.
At the end of the discussion, we left the companies with a comprehensive tip sheet to help them integrate marketing into their startups. Here’s a few key bullets from the sheet to help ramp up your marketing as well:
- Customers – Your initial customers will inject their passion for your product to help fuel vital content and collateral that can be used for promotion. Maintaining these loyal relationships will be crucial in launching your first marketing initiatives.
- Bandwidth and Focus – Forget about the CEO running the business and doing a little marketing on the side. It doesn’t work. Establish a marketing contact. This is your go to person who is focused on marketing and isn’t the founder – they’re fully immersed in the industry and have time to devote to setting up campaigns and looking into returns on your efforts.
- You’ll Need a Story to Get Press – Think critically and creatively. Gather your team together and think of all the possible angles you can take to leverage your brand. Does your founder have a story? Great! Recent product launch? Even better! As long as you have something interesting to share with the press, you’ll have an easier time getting placements.