19 Ways Startups can Use Comms to Attract Investors
What problem are you solving?
Does your brand have a fundamental purpose and are you 100% sure that all of your stakeholders are fully aware of it? Your brand should be built around your purpose. It should exist to solve a problem, fill any current voids in the market or improve on something that may already exist. Without such a purpose or solution, potential customers, investors and employees will struggle to see the value of your company.
Describe use cases for your product or service on your site
Let people know specific details about your products or services by including “use cases” to paint a picture. Use cases are examples of how your brand can help solve the problems they might be facing. A mobile electricity generator could be used to power your home, perhaps while camping, maybe for an outside event where there are no plug sockets.
A wardrobe can hold clothes, cleaning products or storage boxes depending on the configuration. Don’t expect your stakeholders to imagine the usage themselves, by describing a situation relevant to their everyday lives, they can imagine themselves owning the product/taking advantage of the service you provide.
At the same time, if investors see the brand as useful, worthwhile and innovative, they are more likely to give you their backing.
Strategizing and building the brand
Branding can be an extensive process, so it’s important to ensure you are able to build and develop a personalized strategy that will help you set achievable goals and lay out appropriate milestones. Planning gives implementation a focused direction while taking into account potential, unforeseeable events.
Define your “brand language”
Consistency, consistency, consistency – that’s the key! We can’t say it often enough. Consistency.
Decide on the correct verbiage, tone, voice and phraseology which coincides with your brand and makes it recognizable, while appealing to your target-market research keywords related to your narrowed-down niche, and use them in your content. Always be sure to consider SEO and be consistent with your brand language across all content.
People put more trust into brands who keep a consistent “Golden Thread” throughout their company. It also decreases the chance of misunderstanding when people communicate to others about your brand.
One more time for good luck. Consistency.
Define your audience:
Who are the investors you’re trying to reach? What kind of startups do they invest in?
Where do they hang out digitally? Zero in on a specific, narrowed-down niche, for example, food tech includes developing new meat alternatives, as well as developing new GMOs: which one do you cater to?
The same goes for your customers. Who are they? Where are they? Why should they be interested in your brand? Your investors will want to know that you completely understand your potential customer base. Understanding your customers means you understand your brand fully.
Conducting market research, analyzing buyer habits and understanding their expectations provides more insights. A well-defined persona should be in line with your company’s target audience.
Pinpoint your messages
Socrates said: “Know Thyself!” – well we are taking it a step further and telling you it’s vital to “Know Thy Brand”. Investors are more likely to part with their money for brands who know exactly why they exist, what issues they are solving for their customers and which gaps they are able to plug in the market.
What are the elements of your business that you want to get across to your stakeholder? Are you the biggest, the best or the brightest? Is your USP going to disrupt the market? Perhaps your company’s mission will change the face of the planet itself.
No matter how big or small your differentiators, every part of your branding efforts and digital strategy should hinge on the messaging you decide on for your brand. Know thy brand, and you can make sure everyone else knows it the way they should.
You are an expert in your field and a leader among your industry. Since you began growing and building your business, you have been accumulating knowledge. Use this to your advantage to display your company is confident and knowledgeable. Not only does it build trust among your customers but investors are more likely to invest in a company when they are confident in their understanding of the industry.
After all, knowledge is power.
Stay updated – Examine Current Popular Trends
Industry knowledge is not only important for your own personal development – investors are more likely to show interest in C-suite execs who are clearly experts in their field. Understanding the sector in which they work gives a higher sense of security.
Stay on top of current trends and topics by consistently reading the media. Find out what investors are currently talking about in your industry. Determine what currently piques their interest and what buzzwords you can use to get them interested in your company.
Social media trends evolve and change on a regular basis. By keeping up to date with what’s happening in your industry, you can hop onto trends much more easily. Stay informed and consider what your investors are looking for and what they might be investing in. Using buzzwords related to your industry can help with Search Engine Optimization, pushing your brand up in Google searches.
One of the most important things for any kind of marketing is to know what’s going on in terms of industry or marketing trends. With the speed at which social media continuously grows, there is a constant need to adapt to what is popular among customers and remain relevant. It’s almost impossible to imagine that only three years ago, few people had heard of a certain mobile app called Tik Tok, whereas now companies are continuously discovering a multitude of methodologies to take advantage of social media’s youngest family member to expand and promote themselves.
Make sure you are keeping a close eye on what’s going on in the digital world. Stay informed on new and trending apps or even forums that have become more popular. Monitor what trends are currently popular on these platforms. In terms of investors and startups, LinkedIn is an excellent platform for you to branch out and interact with potential stakeholders. However, as with all social media platforms, LinkedIn is no stranger to adapting and evolving. An example would be LinkedIn Live – the new way to interact and engage with corporate audiences through livestreams on the platform itself.
Through it, you are also capable of building and connecting with others within your industry and those with similar interests. Find ways in which you can utilize these connections and promote you and your company’s news and activity.
How can you make sure you are able to engage with them in the most efficient way possible? It’s important to know what current trends are in your industry, as you may be able to piggyback on what is topical. If there is something that is popular and trending, you may want to comment with your own industry expert knowledge.
Engaging with Stakeholders
They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know – although both are true. As mentioned above, industry knowledge is vital – of course – but without rubbing shoulders with the correct people, you could find it more difficult to spread the word the way you really want to.
Three words: networking, networking, networking.
Warm up phase
Social media is a fantastic method to initiate engagement with potential important stakeholders – but it’s best to start slowly. Begin by connecting, following, or subscribing on the preferred platform and show interest in their content through likes, comments – a good rule of thumb is to message twice a week to start to build a solid relationship.
These interactions increase the likelihood of them responding and engaging with your company.
In general, throughout the corporate world, Linkedin should be heavily considered, as it is an important social media platform used mainly for business purposes such as networking and hiring. LinkedIn can help you engage with specific people from specific industries and companies. You can gain exposure organically or by utilizing paid ad campaign platforms.
Once you have established a connection, create a dialogue whether it includes brainstorming some of your own ideas or sharing thoughts regarding mutual interests which resonate with them.
Meet the right people, in the right places
Your social media interactions are a great start to build your relationship with those important stakeholders, but nothing beats the opportunity to see each other face-to-face, look each other in the eye and, when possible, shaking hands. Where do they go to network?
Perhaps they attend industry networking events such as conferences, trade fairs, webinars, workshops and seminars. If you know they are going to be there, especially the physical events (as opposed to the digital ones), be sure to organize a meeting – even just for a coffee or a quick chat. Invite them to your stall if you have one, or take them for a beer.
Take bullet points from conversations, as many people won’t remember certain things from the first conversation. Note the most valuable pieces of information to pique their interest, as they may not remember you. Anything that you can use as hooks can be incredibly helpful and important.
Make sure that you leave with their contact details and remember to follow up with everyone you meet through email or social media within a week of meeting them.
Maximize Engagements Post-Introduction of Investors
When following up after any meeting make sure to ask questions to encourage engagement.
Make sure you know their news – have written something that was recently published ? Perhaps they’ve taken part in some kind of work activity – or even a personal one (did they recently run a marathon or climb Kilimanjaro?) Use this as a tool to start a conversation.
Create a template to save time and avoid unnecessarily wasted energy. It helps to say how much you appreciate their work and knowledge, and how much you have learned and may be able to learn from them in the future.
It is usually worth trying to organize a second meeting to continue the momentum. When attending the second meeting, think about things from their perspective, about how to get their interest and how your service or product can add value. Come up with ideas that may help them in the long run if they invest in you.
Utilize Any CRM Tools Available to You
Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system like Pipedrive to keep on top of when to be in touch with various stakeholders and the details of previous engagements.
If you are contacting a long list of potential investors, it can be hard to keep track of what happened during meetings and any data that may have been collected before and after. Having a CRM can help organize previous points from conversations, set reminders, follow up on tasks, and prevent information from leaking or falling through the cracks.
Doing so can help you keep on top of what’s going on, streamline processes, increase your sales, build customer relationships, improve customer service, and increase any potential profitability. It also allows you to see what works and what doesn’t so you are able to communicate more effectively, leaving you more precious resources in other important aspects of your startup.
Keep those Interested Updated and Study Their Responses
Use a Content Management System (CMS) such as MailChimp to send regular updates to groups of people. Create a content schedule in advance to keep things organized and ensure that you have a varied and interesting spread of content when reaching out. Now it’s time to monitor how they respond and analyze activity.
With the data you collect, you can discard anything that performs poorly and send emails that have higher click rates and engagement. You’re able to perform A/B testing this way, sending out different templates and determining what works best while also engaging with potential stakeholders. Include a variety of templates and try to be as unique as possible. Many of these people receive countless emails and having one that stands out can make a difference.
Personifying Your Brand
Get people excited about your company and the products or services you sell. Any hype and buzz generated is also capable of propelling other marketing channels you use forward, leading to a greater chance of success.
Decide who the face of your company is
Businesses are by nature public entities and those who are capable of adding a personal touch are more likely to succeed. Choose a person who embodies your brand and helps customers relate to the company – this will be one of the main connections they have to the brand. Your company’s spokesperson represents the views, feelings, and messaging of your brand.
Startups usually have one person representing them, whereas big companies may have different faces for different topics. Startups need to have two things in mind:
The first aspect, which is absolutely crucial, is the spokesperson who should ideally be someone willing to be the overall face. They should feel comfortable going to events, talking to press, posting social media and speaking their mind. They should be an outgoing person, as this can make them seem more authentic. It can be a huge advantage if they already have active social media accounts and may have written something in the past.
Second – The person should be someone who understands the product well enough to freely talk about it, answer questions (technical or otherwise), and be able to build a story, elaborating on how the startup came to be. It should be someone who can talk about the essence of the brand with the utmost of confidence. The primary emphasis on the person should be that they are able to speak in a “joe public” manner when concerning the product/service. If the person speaks in jargon, can’t explain the product to the layman or is uncomfortable with spreading awareness of the product or service, it makes it much more difficult.
Become A Thought Leader
Start to contribute thought leadership pieces and op-eds to appropriate target media that your stakeholders and investors would be interested in.
For example, if you are an open-source software developer, try to get into opensource.com, or if you’re a fintech company, try to write for tech/finance magazines. A great resource is HARO (Help a Reporter Out), Response Source and other journalist request software where publications reach out to try and get expert opinions on features they are writing. This can also help to build a rapport with the journalists and create a good relationship with a useful contact.
But where to even start?
Step 1 – map out publications that may be interesting to you and investors, understand what they are reading and consider whether they would be impressed to see you featured there. These can include trade and industry publications, professional magazines or national papers.
Step 2 – See who the different journalists are and relevant media contacts in each of the publications. This can either be an editor, someone who covers a specific section on the website, or a journalist that frequently covers a specific topic. Study what topics they have spoken about recently, what’s currently trending, what topics they have written about in recent months and think of how you can approach them to give your take to show you are knowledgeable in your industry.
Step 3 – Find the guidelines for each publication and topics they are looking to cover. This will help you to build a story that would interest them. Once you have it, start pitching through the method the publication prefers.
If resources are tight, you can always get outside help. Freelancers on Upwork and Fivver are good places to start. Find someone who can do research for you, create media contact lists and emails, or whatever is needed. A public relations agency can be useful with this kind of media outreach – but make sure to plan as soon as possible. The later you start, the more difficult it is to strategize
Unfortunately, 90% of the publications will most likely ignore you, but once certain people respond you can begin a relationship, ask them what best works for their outlet and eventually get something published. Once a connection is established and proven to be reliable and an asset – just like with your investors – the process becomes easier.
When investors search for your brand’s name or that of the spokesperson, it looks great that the media are talking about you. You are topical. You are relevant. Regular contributors can draw investors’ attention – sometimes to the point where they are the party to initiate contact and approach you instead.
Create buzz around your brand
Focus your social media plan
Social media can be a daunting prospect. Engaging with the public can be a minefield of potential awkward responses and miscommunication – and there are so many platforms these days to choose from. So what should you do?
Decide on the ONE social media platform your startup has to be on to reach your stakeholders, and focus your energies on making it extraordinary – at least to start with. Companies that don’t have the resources or finances to create an in house marketing team need to choose where they should focus their workload.
By focusing all of your efforts on a single account, you are able to learn how to share your story effectively, engage with people and generate relatable and shareable content that matches your brand’s story. Instagram and Twitter are more informal, whereas LinkedIn and Facebook are viewed as more professional. Keep the platform you use inline with your brand image.If they see an active Discord or Reddit community it may impress them and further persuade them to invest.
Instead of trying to create content for multiple platforms, focus on one or two platforms that your community engages with. You also need to be able to commit to posting consistently, as once you start you can’t stop. Starting and stopping can destroy your name, and also gives off the wrong impression to anyone who views your brand.
Think of what investors want to see, and make sure you invest the right resources into the chosen platforms. You should decide whether you want to do this internally or if you require external help (freelance/agency).
Study each platform as they have their own sets of rules, practices and guidelines. When you use your desired platform, you want to do it right and look good on it. The more you engage and update your content, the more knowledge you are able to accumulate as well. Consider consulting with others on the platform who are already doing well as they can help bolster your standing.
But always remember: your messaging needs to be consistent throughout. Yes, that word again – CONSISTENCY.
Use “Piggybacking” Ads to Drive Footfall to Your Website
Google Ads are the ‘bread and butter’ of digital advertising. In the past, a lot of companies would use the names of other brands within their industry as one of their keywords, to ensure their own website would appear when people searched for their competitors – this is called “piggybacking”.
Today’s regulations make it harder to be featured under a competitor’s name, especially for startups or companies for whom this is a new strategy. Firstly because of potential budgetary constraints. The landing page is probably newer and therefore with a lower “authority”. Additionally, Google distributes a “quality score” based on how the landing page relates to the chosen keywords, and if this is too low, you risk the chance of the ad not being approved.
A more effective technique is to utilize news from a competitor “to piggyback” – perhaps they recently received investment or launched a new product. By running a Google Ads campaign with appropriate keywords, you can make sure that your sponsored promotion is positioned higher than the organic news. If the competitor has released a comparable product, one excellent way to achieve this is to create a comparison page, showing the advantages of your product vs their. This method is more likely to achieve a higher quality score resulting in your promotion being placed above the competitor or at least to appear for their search term, drawing their success to your company.
If a non-direct competitor is creating a buzz, something that is currently trending across Google and social media, try leverage the brand by creating opinion pieces or blog posts and then promoting the page. Consider approaching them to possibly collaborate and potentially create a joint marketing initiative that may benefit them as well.
Build a PR and Media strategy
It’s not only important to read the media, it’s important to be the media – and that’s where a solid PR plan comes into play. With many things in communications, it’s important to work backwards to create a concrete strategy. You know with whom you want to engage and you know where they hang out online and what they read – now it’s time to get your name in those places.
You’ve been reading the media to understand the industry so you know the kinds of stories that those media tend to publish. Who are the important journalists, columnists, bloggers and editors, and what things interest them the most. Once you understand this, you can find your story.
So what is your story? The first thing to think about is, what news do you have? It has to be something new, something revolutionary, something exciting. Are you launching a new product or perhaps you’ve hired a new executive to the team. If there is no news, it’s time to create news.
Think outside the box – campaigns don’t have to be specifically about your product or service, think about your brand as a whole – your mission and your overarching perception. If you were a vegan food company, you could potentially create a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project which helps to save the rainforest or support an animal shelter. Your shoe company which specializes in trainers could sponsor a sporting event or collaborate with a famous athlete or indeed another brand who shares your values.
Consider experiential campaigns, giving potential customers and journalists an experience which they will spread online – the former will perhaps post across social media, the latter will write an article.
Once you have your news, create your media list and write a press release with all of the information. Keep it clean and concise without using overly superlative wording. Offer your spokesperson as an interview opportunity to encourage a more in depth article. Include everything that a journalist might need: quotes, images, technical data, credits for any photographs or research.
Aside from press releases, thought leadership articles can also be a useful tool to achieve coverage. Have your senior management team write opinion pieces of current events or on topics which show them as industry leaders. These topics should be interesting, current, with a unique point of view that only an expert would think of, but one that is interesting to the readers.
The most important thing is to be visible. Get people noticing your company – if you create a buzz within your sector, you’re more likely to garner interest from potential investors who will see you as a trailblazer and solid brand to invest their time and money in..
Create profiles on professional directories such as Crunchbase and Angellist etc. to start to build an online narrative
Profiles give stakeholders information and corporate details on your brand creating a professional perspective of your company, increasing their likelihood of investing. This creates a positive narrative and if placed onto strong platforms which rank well on Google, they create the desired perception when stakeholders or potential customers and investors search for your brand name.
Professional directories create a space to provide easy access to information on your company, allowing for transparency and building trustability. Make sure you include the details of your company, the industry you work in, details on the product/services that you offer, and the total funding your company has so far.
Make sure your company’s website is interesting, engaging, and informative
Branding across all assets should be consistent – everything from the wording and tone (see above) to the color scheme and design language. Consumer brands are more likely to go for bright and exciting colors with personal and informal language while B2B companies may prefer a more corporate look with a professional voice. Don’t forget to always keep SEO in mind when structuring your site and include details such as keywords, alt texts, meta titles and meta descriptions so you are more likely to get seen on a Google search.
Make sure the content you produce stays on themes that you are sure will interest your stakeholders. This doesn’t have to be on the nose for the service or product you provide, but it should be on something that is appropriate for your demographic. For example, a company which produces vegan food could create content on deforestation or plastic in the ocean – although it’s not specifically about veganism, their customers are likely to have an interest in both, which means it remains on brand. A new app for project management could perhaps write about AI content writing systems, as many of their stakeholders would find it informative.
Create and engage in the community
It’s important to be active within appropriate communities wherever possible. This could be by taking part in forums on Reddit, participating in group chats on Discord or Telegram, or making sure you are in a LInked In or Facebook group.
Stakeholders can see your visibility and customers feel appreciated – as though they belong to something more than just a corporate brand. Facilitating likeminded stakeholders to share their thoughts and perspectives bolsters the sense of community around your brand. It also leads to an increased amount of word-of-mouth promotion, spreading brand awareness and improving levels of engagement. People who feel part of a community are more likely to interact with you.
Consider geo-targeted campaigns surrounding events within your industry.
Create geo-targeted social media campaigns during industry events if you know that relevant stakeholders are going to be in attendance at a specific place, at a specific time.
This can increase the chances of them seeing your brand name if and when they are there. The campaigns are best done during the events, but they can be done before, which builds anticipation, or after.
Perhaps highlight the event’s most interesting moments, specifically surrounding the investors you are most interested in, or maybe promote what you did there.
Maybe you have a stall at a trade show, are available for meetings while you attend or your CEO was a keynote speaker or panelist at a conference. Whatever the situation, timing and location are crucial