No matter how awesome your startup, you're facing a daunting task -- getting exposure.
The right combination of perfect timing, customer demand, and knockout marketing for startups is hard enough to come by. (Check out some stats about launching a successful startup in our infographic.)
Getting known can be tough enough for an existing business. But when you're just coming out of the gate into an over-heated business world, you've got your work cut out. How do you get the exposure your startup needs?
10 Ways to Get Exposure for Your B2B Startup
Let's jump right in!
1. Find the Right Reporters and Bloggers
Just like your brand, every reporter has a niche. Obviously, you're not going to pitch your productivity app to a travel journalist or blogger.
However, it can be all too tempting to pitch your startup to the biggest name on TechCrunch, instead of looking for the journalist who has a small, yet loyal following that matches up with your brand's unique messaging.
Instead, seek out reporters and bloggers whose message resonates with your own. Contact them, letting them know how much you appreciate their content and delivery. You can then proceed to pitch your story.
This brings us to our next tip:
2. Pitch a Story, Not Your Company
The hard truth is, startups are a dime a dozen. In fact, more than half a million startups spring up every month. The last thing a reporter needs is a fact-filled sheet of statistics accompanied by bragging rights for your startup.
What separates yours from the herd? Do you have a humanitarian angle? Have you birthed your startup from unbelievable hardship? How does your startup serve people in a way that your competition does not?
Your brand has a story. You need to figure out what makes that story, not your company, unique. Once you have that figured out, go ahead and pitch to the journalists of your choosing.
3. Target the Right Audience at Trade Shows
Trade shows continue to be a generous source of leads for those in B2B industries.
However merely showing up for trade shows won'y generate the exposure you need for your startup.
The majority of your success depends on the amount of work you do in the weeks and months leading up to the show.
Trade shows typically release a list of press members who will be attending. Why not reach out to them personally and ask them to stop by your booth? If possible, arrange a particular time so that you can make sure the right person is there for the meet and greet.
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Networking is a broad term. However, it doesn't have to include cheesy social mixers where business cards are robotically served up like tasteless water crackers.
You live and breath your startup. You need to let people know that you and your startup are synonymous. Networking should happen every time you have a discussion with another person, regardless of the informality of the occasion.
You'll be surprised at how someone will know someone who knows someone else that needs your startup or is interested in helping to spread the word about it.
5. Get Influencers on Board
Reach out to those who have already achieved success in your field, or in a related field.
Have you created an app or product? Send a free sample to someone who has a strong voice in your industry. Remember that they likely receive many requests to test products, so be patient and allow time for them to give you an honest opinion.
Also, remember that unlike brand advocates (usually happy customers, friends, and employees), influencers, or brand ambassadors are typically compensated for providing their opinion. If you're OK with that, an endorsement on social media or in a blog post, can go a long way to getting your startup the exposure it needs with the right audience.
6. Practice Your Pitch
Although you don't want to waste time pitching your startup to everyone, you do want to use every appropriate opportunity to introduce it to those whose interests align with your company, no matter how big or small.
Even if a meeting doesn't pan out, it still lets you perfect your pitch. The more you learn how to distill your message and brand story, the better chance you'll have at landing your dream accounts.
7. Launch a Press Release
Press releases are oldies, but goodies. They still remain an effective means to spread the word about your startup. Caution should be exercised here, though. You don't want to launch your press release until you have all your ducks in a row -- including a clear picture of how your startup fills a need or solves a problem. After all, why launch something
Here are a few best practices to follow when you finally do launch your press release:
- Include an image, video, or other appropriate visual material
- Include at least one quote from someone within the company
- Ensure that a contact person is listed
- Add the press release to your online newsroom
- Share the release on social media
8. Become a Guest Blogger
During the creation and launch of your startup, you've amassed a lot of knowledge. Why not put it to good use as a guest blogger?
Don't just show up and expect a blogger to take you on, however. Pave the way by developing relationships ahead of time with key bloggers in your industry and ones your target audience is likely to care about.
Once you're about to launch your product or service, offer to blog about a topic of interest to your and the blogger's audience. It shouldn't be self-serving but useful. If possible, include backlinks and references to your site.
9. Use Paid Social
Paid social, when done correctly, can be a great way to target the audience you're looking for. Since you set the monthly budget, you can reassess how your campaigns are doing and periodically adjust.
10. Launch a Beta Version
Most people love a Beta version release. It lets them try out new products for free, while everyone else eventually gets charged for the perfected product.
The advantage to you is that in exchange for trying out your Beta product or service, you can request feedback in order to make tweaks before the official launch of your perfected product or service. A satisfied Beta customer also may agree to provide a testimonial or participate in a case study.
Launching a startup is both exciting and a teeny bit terrifying. However, with a good plan in place for getting the most exposure, your B2B startup will be well on its way to success.
What about you? What are some of the struggles you experienced with your startup? What helped you to overcome them? I would love to hear from you in the comments below, or on Twitter.