There’s been a bit of discussion over the value of public relations and marketing for startups. I even got into a mini-debate about it on Twitter recently. Shouldn’t a good product be all the public relations and marketing you will ever need? In an ideal world, yes. You created something amazing that will go viral on its own. All your users will magically hear about your product by word-of-mouth.
But that’s just not realistic.
For most startups, you’ll need put together a strategy for marketing and PR. But don’t expect too much out of PR for PR’s sake.
It’s true that hiring an outside PR firm may not be the best strategy for small startups that want to stay lean and manage their own reputation. At SudoSearch, we have two team members (myself and our COO, Kim Kuettel, with marketing and PR in our backgrounds). But if you don’t, what can you do on your own?
1) Educate yourself on integrated marketing, build a plan and find your “yeast.” Integrated marketing means that you come up with a plan for branding and user acquisition, and all the pieces of the plan work together. Think of it like a recipe. If you miss one ingredient it might taste OK, but if you forget yeast, your bread won’t rise.
Your plan might touch on everything from grassroots marketing, launch events, PR, email marketing, newsletters, customer service, social media (social media AS customer service), SEO, blogging, print and digital advertising, celeb/tastemaker endorsements, etc.
Figure out what’s “yeast” for your company. It’s different for everyone.
2) Realize that everything is marketing. Start early. Your business cards are marketing. Your email signature is marketing. Everything you tweet publically is marketing. What you wear to an investor meeting is marketing. Overthink it.
There is no “too soon” to start building your brand. Even if you’re not out in front of the public yet, you’ll be meeting with investors, mentors, partners and future employees.
3) Take a class. I recommend Skillshare. I’m currently taking one on acquiring users for free, but there are many on PR and marketing.
What’s worked for you in marketing your own startup?