Startup PR can feel like a monumental task. Nowadays everyone and his brother are entrepreneurs, and multiple industries are flooded with new and attention-grabbing products or services. How do you get your startup to stand out in this news rush?
Growth hacking can hold the key. This inexpensive and creative method is gaining speed and winning results in many industries. Read on to disccover how it can impact your business.
What is Growth Hacking?
It's a popular buzzword, but what exactly is it? Here is a basic definition of growth hacking:
Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business. Growth hackers are marketers, engineers, and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business.
Growth hacking requires an out-of-the-box and unorthodox way of thinking to get attention, develop thought leadership, and shine light on a new brand.
This methodology has some hard-hitting principles that can be grafted onto the public relations process to create a more effective PR strategy.
Growth hacking has been used in the marketing efforts of such B2C startups as Uber and AirBnB. Such tactics quickly grew these companies to the status of renowned household names.
True, growth hacking has shown most of its strength within the B2C sector. For this reason, some B2B companies hesitate to use it, questioning whether it would be a good fit for their industries. They worry that B2B companies' different sales process, with hyper-segmented customer profiles, longer sales cycles, and fewer marketing resources, may fly in the face of a growth hacking mentality.
Does this mean growth hacking doesn’t fit into the B2B space? Not at all! Despite its differences, startups in B2B would do well to incorporate some of the principles of growth hacking into their repertoire of B2B marketing strategies. Let’s look at some key ways you can do just that.
Growth hacking is the intersection of data, product, and marketing. --Andre F. Bourque
How Can You Use Growth Hacking in Your Startup PR Strategy?
1. Educate Your Audience
Education is an essential part of any PR strategy -- but it is even more imperative for a startup. Why? When looking to make a purchase decision, 71% of B2B researchers look for general information instead of going straight to a particular brand.
You want to place yourself in a position to help prospects with their research, and answer their questions. If you do, it will build their confidence in your expertise and reliability.
Education means creating engaging content that helps propsects understand your industry.
A good content strategy includes multiple content styles on an array of subjects. While blog posts and infographics can attract customers at the beginning of the buying cycle, eBooks and white papers are valuable to those seeking more in-depth information. You want content that fits the whole spectrum of the buying cycle.
It is a good idea to build up a solid base of content before publicizing it. You want to give the appearance of knowledge and expertise -- and a large selection of blog posts, infographics, and eBooks is the best way to do that. If your site only has 5 blog posts, you will be viewed as a newbie that isn't worth anyone's time.
2. Leverage Social Media Analytics to Target the Right People
Public relations in B2B is all about knowing who your buyer is. B2B buyers are not as easily defined as in B2C -- several people within a company may have purchasing power.
So how do you find out whom to target with your message? Social media analytics is a powerful targeting tool, when harnessed correctly. It offers insight into your industry -- including who are key influencers, what topics are trending, and even information on new audience opportunities you haven't tapped into yet.
For example, Twitter offers a special feature as part of its analytics -- Event Targeting. This feature allows you to find people based on upcoming industry events (trade shows, conferences, etc.) they attend. You even have the ability to look at analytics of previous events to define interests, engagement, and basic demographics of an audience.
Social media platforms offer insights to help you build a solid base of audience targeting information, helping you create new buyer person and discover who is the power behind company purchase decisions.
Across the board, social media analytics helps you to find the right people, create the right message, and deliver it at the right time.
3. Use Free (or Low-Cost) Tools Whenever Possible
As a startup, you want to leverage all the free and low-cost tools that you can get your hands on.
Google Analytics is a great free tool to keep on top of your metrics. You’ll be able to use this information to see where you can improve your strategy.
MuckRack is a fairly low-cost tool that can be a lifesaver for PR professionals. Not only will it help you monitor what people are saying about your company, but also alert you to new PR opportunities.
HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a free service (it also has paid levels) that connects PR professionals with journalists and bloggers. You simply sign up, and HARO will notify you when a journalist is looking for someone with your background or expertise.
Buzzsumo does cost money, but it is well worth the investment. This service will tell you what topics are trending in your industry. Buzzsumo also puts influencer information at your fingertips, and allows you to keep a close eye on your competitors.
24-7 press release is a press release distribution service that offers a wide range of affordable plans. They help with everything from writing the press release, to boosting your overall visibility. And even targeting the right audience.
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4. Repurpose Your Content
Phew, your content is published -- but is that really the end of the line? Hopefully not. If you do nothing, even the best content will fizzle out. Instead, focus on ways that you can extend the life of that content, and get as much juice as possible from it.
Take a popular blog post, and transform it into a colorful infographic, or an informative video. These other content formats may catch the eye of someone who previously skipped over your blog post.
This is particularly helpful after a speaking engagement. Just because a small percentage of your audience was able to attend does not mean that the others have to miss out. Create a blog post or eBook from your speaking outline -- include points from other speakers at the event to increase value. Look for user-generated content that you can reshare after the fact.
Make the most of every piece of content you create. There’s no reason for it to be forgotten.
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5. Constantly Test and Improve Your Strategy
Nobody lands the perfect combination of content on the first try. There’s just too much you can’t predict. That’s why one of the basic principles of growth hacking is experimentation.
Plan on going back to the drawing board multiple times. Use A/B testing to find the right balance -- test wording, color, font, and anything else that would give you an accurate picture of what works.
Always look for new ways to improve the user experience. For example, a recent study showed that the 52% of B2B buyers do their research on the go, and need a smooth, mobile experience. Is all of your content optimized for the best possible mobile experience? Test all aspects of your content to make sure.
6. Become Part of Virtual Communities in Your Industry
Communities have proved to be one of the most influential B2B marketing strategies. One study showed that the three most influential B2B marketing strategies are direct interaction with the provider, references, and events (in-person and virtual).
There is an ever-growing trend toward virtual events and interactions. This is a particularly beneficial trend for startups, who can save money by focusing their energy on virtual communities. Social media and online forums such as Quora are excellent interactive tools where you can really show off your industry expertise.
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7. Leave a Digital Trail
Before you launch your startup, dedicate time to leaving a trail for people to look at later. Leave insightful comments on social media and industry blogs. Put in a personal word about new trends and other observations from your industry activities.
Use social media to post photos that showcase your startup’s personality and activities.
What does all this accomplish? When your launch is officially announced, these efforts will help you be more attractive to media and prospects.
Key Points to Remember…
- Educate your audience, and be the go-to source for potential buyers.
- Use whatever free or low cost tools that you can get your hands on.
- Engage in virtual communities where you can establish your thought leadership.
- Leave a digital trail of photos and comments for people to look back on.
Startup PR is at times like being thrown right in the deep end -- but can be made substantially easier with growth hacking. Whether your goal is to save money or achieve fast results, growth hacking can definitely help.
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