Entering today’s market as a startup is a daunting task to tackle. With a frothy startup climate, it can often feel like you’re a needle in the world’s largest haystack. This is especially true when it comes to making startup sales.
But, fear not! There are some solutions to making your startup stand out while starting potential customers down the buyer cycle. PR and content marketing are some of the strongest weapons you have in a startup’s early days marketing stack to drive sales.
This hasn’t always been the case. There was a time when people believed sales were narrow and deep and marketing (OR mass-marketing) was strictly broad and shallow. One could prohibit the other given the limited bandwidth of startup teams and available marketing mediums.
However, unlike the startups who suffered in the original dot-com crash — today’s startups can turn to multi-purpose branded content techniques rather than marketing to the masses via television or billboards.
Furthermore, while sales and marketing teams can sometimes seem to be on different wavelengths, PR can fill that gap. Once your company has a minimal viable product and is ready to scale sales, a solid PR strategy will undoubtedly give sales a boost. Here are some reasons why.
Think about your Facebook timeline. What are people sharing?
Rather than sharing advertisements, Facebook users share media stories — which were likely shaped (in some small way) by a brand’s PR. That doesn’t mean that a PR person or message directly influenced a story. It means that simply by having a brand — and hopefully by amplifying that brand’s story through content — you can create awareness of a topic and influence.
We all are (and always have been) natural storytellers. It’s how we differentiate ourselves and how we relate to other people. That is exactly what PR is: a storyteller for your brand.
If you take storytelling into your own hands with branded content and make it seem interesting to a targeted audience, they’ll click for a read. Bold, catchy headlines with phrases such as “Why you NEED to ____” or “Did you know _____?” suggest that, by clicking, readers will gain valuable info.
It creates interest in ways that basic ads cannot, and – if done well – keeps customers coming back for more. In addition, and most importantly, it creates action. That act of sharing on Facebook can be tough to trigger. Anything flagged as sponsored content or an advertisement — certainly will make it harder for consumers to willingly share something with their friends and family. However, media stories and creative branded content often elicit that action. They also can elicit sales directly.
Nike uses its branded content on Instagram to indirectly sell you shoes. Coke has its own digital magazine to sell you a can of soda. The list goes on, and on, and consumers are being influenced and making purchases.
With the world of social media influencers comes the era of influencer marketing being a strong platform within successful digital PR campaigns.
Good or bad, PR is, simply put, creating influence over what others may say about your brand when you’re not in the room. For startups, any conversation is a plus. That’s why Influencer PR is an excellent way for startups to create customer engagement.
While celebrities like Beyonce and Taylor Swift are some of the more well-known influencers, this type of PR can be even more successful (and easier to achieve) with people that have less of a following.
Whether it’s well-subscribed YouTubers or Bloggers that share a similar theme to your brand, these “micro-influencers” tend to have a higher influence in their social circle than A-List celebs. They’re also easier to reach. If an Influencer talks about your product, it can result in 1,000’s of others engaging with your product simultaneously.
This active engagement with potential costumers has been shown to be a big driver of sales redemptions and driving store visits for brands leveraging influencer marketing.
From a consumer standpoint, a good news story about your company is about 3-5x more valuable than an advertisement.
Why? Advertisements are paid self-promotions, but news stories about your company appear more credible to customers (especially if you’re a startup or small business). While they may not yet trust your brand, they trust the news source.
In fact, 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, while only half trust paid ads. Customers want to do businesses with companies they trust. It doesn’t cost much to send an update to a news source about a new product, new hire or company event. If you’re looking to boost sales and looking to do so at a fairly low cost, PR is the perfect solution for both.