Where to start?
Whether you’re a tech startup or a global innovation corporate, not even the most cutting edge tech companies can afford to rest on their laurels.
While we hate to be negative, it’s widely acknowledged that only 50% of tech startups survive their first five years of business. Even once you make the five year mark, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. With a record 80 new companies created every hour in 2016, the business marketplace is saturated with talent. Plus, it’s always possible for a young business to usurp a more established brand.
Luckily, there are things you can do to help ensure your business thrives, not flops. Clever marketing is one of them. If you don’t know where to start, or simply want to refresh your marketing with an overhaul, don’t panic! We’ve compiled some quick and dirty tips to get you off to a flying start.
If it’s very early days for your tech business, crafting a brand that perfectly embodies your values should be a priority. And if your business has been around for a while but no longer feels relevant, perhaps now could be the time for a rebrand.
A strong brand helps distinguish you from your competitors, creates reputation, and even instills a sense of community among your team.
While big branding projects can be very expensive, the minimum every business needs is a strong logo and fitting brand colour.
Your logo should be simple but distinctive. If possible, try to incorporate your full company name into your logo too. While it may not look as slick and clean as an icon-style logo, it will be more valuable in helping to gain brand recognition.
When picking a brand colour, think about the personality you want to associate with your business. Check out this handy guide for insight into our associations with colours. When we rebranded at Luminous, we picked a cheery yellow for its association with light and brightness. Plus, we think we’re a cheery bunch.
Once your beautiful new brand is up and running, your next step is to create a website to match.
As well as a sleek and user-friendly design, your messaging needs to be spot on. Never assume that customers have any prior knowledge about your brand. Your website should clearly explain what you do, who you work with, and previous examples of your work. You should also add a contact form to make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch with you.
Don’t forget to add a little personality to your website, too. Whether your company vibe is sleek, corporate, traditional, fun, or ground-breaking, your website copy and content should reflect that.
One of the most important parts of a company website is its blog. An interesting and well-written professional blog helps customers get to know a brand, and helps a business showcase their expertise. According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of customers prefer getting to know a company via blog articles rather than advertising.
If you’re not sure what to write about, we find advice pieces are always well-received by customers. Think about common problems that your target customers might face, and create content that answers those questions. Providing a more in-depth answer to your FAQs can be a great source of inspiration for blog posts.
Not only does blogging showcase your expertise, it also plays an important role in SEO. Your blog activity should link to your SEO strategy and keyword research. Once you know your keywords, Answer the Public is a really helpful tool for generating blog title ideas.
When it comes to how frequently to blog, the more the better! Businesses that publish 16+ blogs per month receive 3.5 times more site traffic than companies that post between 0-4 times per month.
We know, though, this can be a big ask for businesses with small marketing teams. At the very least, we recommend all businesses should blog at least once a week. That way, you're ensuring a regular stream of content to share on your social media channels. More on that next!
Cleverly used social media is an essential tool for marketers on a budget. Not only does it allow you to reach a wide target audience, it’s free and incredibly easy to use.
It’s never too early to start creating a presence for your brand on social media. If you’re a startup, you should build a community before your business launches - this way, you already have an audience for your news.
There are hundreds of different social media sites out there and you don’t need to be on all of them. Choose wisely - create profiles on whichever social network sites are favoured by your target customers. Twitter and LinkedIn are always safe bets if you're not sure where to start, but networks like Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest may be better suited to B2C brands, or those with lots of visual content.
Once you have your social media accounts up and running, you should share content regularly to grow your community and build interest in your brand. Blog posts are the best type of content you can share on social media as they help drive user traffic back to your website. And don’t feel you can only share a blog post once or twice. A new post should be shared at least once a day for a week, and you should keep sharing old content from your archive too! As well as blog posts, photos and relevant industry news stories are also good social media content.
Don’t be afraid to jump on tending hashtags or get involved with other trending topics on social media, either. It helps to show personality and makes you stand out - just make sure it’s appropriate for your brand.
Whether you’re a tech startup or a global corporate - once you’ve nailed the basics of marketing and comms, you might like to try your hand at some tech PR.
PR - short for public relations - involves creating and managing a positive public-facing image for your brand. It's similar to marketing and advertising, but it relies on ‘earned’ not ‘bought’ exposure in media favoured by your target audience. As our understanding of ‘the media’ has become increasingly digital, so has PR. Public relations now extends not just to newspapers and magazines and their online editions, but also blogs, vlogs, podcasts, social media broadcasts, and more.
Though PR may be a bit more specialised than other marketing activity, you don’t need to be a media guru to gain exposure for your tech business. A good place to start is by subscribing to Journo Requests. Journalists seeking information for a story often put out requests for comments. It can be a very simple way of getting your business into new stories, but you do need to be quick - journalists are often inundated with info when they put a request out. Help a Reporter Out is a similar tool you can try for free.
Another good thing about the way the media has changed is that many outlets are now willing to accept content from industry experts - especially trade publications. Some will make it clear on their website what their terms are for accepting content, others you might have to ask. Either way, thought leadership articles should be genuinely interesting and insightful, and not just pushing your sales message - this likely won’t get accepted anyway.
Many businesses are interested in PR due to the SEO benefits it can offer. By all means, you should ask the editor or journalist whether they can include a link to your site when featuring you in a story. National newspapers and magazines will almost definitely refuse - that’s typically just their policy - but blogs and smaller titles may say yes.
The best thing about thought leadership-based PR activity? It’s free! Though some might request a fee for including your business article, there are plenty that will do so free of charge. However, it can be time-consuming, as you have to write the articles yourself. If in doubt, get a PR agency to help!
By Melissa Taylor, Brand Communications Manager at Luminous PR
Luminous PR is a tech PR agency, specialising in comms for digital businesses. We work with tech brands of all sizes: from sparky startups and SMEs to international corporates, we provide tech PR, marketing, social media, and content.