On September 27th, the HTRLaunchPad Team hosted a post-Launchpad session, the first of a monthly series. All of the 2013 teams were invited and we had a great turnout. In addition we had the current TEN (The Entrepreneur’s Network) class joining us. Three guest speakers were heard, the teams shared a quick overview of their progress since the Demo Days in June and we heard in depth from All Access Menus regarding their progress. We’ll be covering these and future events here on the HTRLaunchPad blog. We’re going to start with Gary Fishman, Managing Director at Anreder & Company in New York City who offered a concise case for building a PR reputation as you do you customer discovery and develop your business model.
Customer discovery and the other steps you take as you go through the LaunchPad process constitute an intense learning process. You’re going out into the field and acquiring expertise until you’re at the point where you have (or don’t have) enough to start a business. It is a concentrated form of research and in the end all of our teams were immersed in their business sector and on their way to becoming experts. While this is essential to success it has a corollary benefit: Expertise is a leverage-able asset that can get you attention from the press, industry media, at conferences and across the many channels that PR pros use to promote companies. Not a minor thing when you’re trying to make a mark with your startup.
When people consider you an expert and come to you for insights, you bypass the skepticism that greets promotional marketing like advertising and selling. Your word is considered of high enough value that it gets featured in places where customers go to get help making buying decisions. So building a reputation as experts should be an integral part of your business model, one you build as you do your discovery and utilize after you launch.
A big part of the discovery process are those insights you learn when you get out of the building and talk to real people about your startup idea. These insights have value to the general business sector you are targeting. As you gather them, start thinking about how you can share them in relevant places. Here are some suggestions:
- Send a progress email to the customers and supporters you have reached out to and include insights you think would be useful to them
- Use those same insights as blog posts on your web site
- Offer to write guest blog posts for industry influencer blogs and media sites
- Post links to them on relevant social media sites
- Write a white paper, case-study style covering how you applied an insight to your business model. Distribute to the same lists.
Essentially you’re using the same content in a variety of places to start the process of being recognized as an expert. You don’t have to do this while you’re pre-launch. Save up the insights and the media ideas you have and use them after you go public with your product or service. If you’re bootstrapping you can do this through the network you’ve developed. If you’re funded consider using a PR professional to polish them and get them where they will be seen.
The goal? To begin being seen as an asset to your industry or sector. The results? Invites to appear at conferences, on panels and as an interviewee in targeted media. These credible appearances stamp you and your company as legitimate and established even if you are early stage, making those first sales and partnerships a lot easier– and more lucrative.