Posted: Thu 13th Mar 2014
A record half a million businesses were started in the UK in 2013. To succeed in such a crowded marketplace, you need to stand out and be noticed; and branding and PR are crucial elements in making that happen.
... However, the 2013 Entrepreneurs Index from Barclays and the Business Growth Fund found that 49% of businesses surveyed started out with under Â£2,000, meaning a full blown marketing campaign may be out of range for many. With that in mind, you may be interested in these five shortcuts to supercharge your start-up's branding and PR, even on a small to minimal budget.
1. Be found online
It sounds simple, but once you've decided on a catchy brand name, check nobody else got there first. If you can't buy the domain name or have social accounts that use your brand as you want it to appear, you'll be diluting its strength and could even be confused with another business. Once you've got your domain, it's time to build an eye-catching, on-brand website.
Ben Martin, Creative Director at Peppermint Soda, advises: "Think about your website from the visitor's point of view. Put your customers first - what do they want to know? Don't rattle off everything you know about your business, it's boring and people don't want to read it. A website needs to have two journeys - a quick fact find and a more in-depth route.
Many companies make the mistake of thinking a cheap website will do the job. It's a waste of your time and money. If you want a website to bring you business, then you need to think about getting people to the website and making the website work hard for you."
2. Blog, blog and blog some more
Did we mention blog?
Content is possibly the most valuable asset a website can have these days, as it's the voice of your brand, and done correctly, inherently shareable. Use it to comment on your industry, share your news, impart your opinions and advise your customers, and the end result is that you showcase your knowledge and become a thought leader.
3. Be seen
Conferences, meet-ups, networking events, trade shows, an industry awards ceremony... there's no end to the rooms full of people where you can show your face and talk about your brand (as long as you're willing to listen too). And of course, you never know who you might meet, so keep those business cards handy.
Alternatively, and if you have the budget, why not think about your own event? Especially if it's so outside the box and interesting it gets you a splash in the local paper and a few hundred mentions on Twitter.
4. Start spreading the news
Bill Gates famously said, "If I had only one dollar left to my name, I'd spend it on PR" - and he didn't do too bad in business.
Don't just hammer out a press release and fire it off to the local paper. Newspapers, industry and consumer magazines are always looking for a good story, but you need to consider the reader and work from the bigger publications down.
So, it's time to start sending emails and picking up the phone. Define your USP, identify who would be intrigued by that USP - journalists, trade publications, bloggers - and ask, politely, if they're interested in giving you coverage. And remember it doesn't have to be a showy sales pitch; covering an event you've participated in, a scheme you're running or an opinion or advice column are all great ways of sharing your message with the public while actually helping the publisher fill space with interesting content.
5. Unique, owned information
People love information. If you have the capacity to conduct a survey or commission research, that will create an invaluable resource which people will love to share and link to (if it's positioned and promoted in the right way, of course), or which in an ideal world could get you in a trade journal or newspaper.
More visual branded content like infographics and videos are big business too these days, so start investing in information.
This article was written by Josh Lyon, Marketing Executive for Peppermint Soda