A hasty look at any solid startup communications plan can give off a basic, if not sophomoric value point to PR investments. While incumbent brands have to worry about everything from crisis campaigns to shareholder messaging. Most startups use PR to get themselves embedded in the minds of their target audiences.
For those that don’t know, there is a secret amongst the craftiest of VCs, advisors and investors: sometimes the goal isn’t to hit critical attention mass, or even provide thought leadership. Sometimes the press is used in far more covert and lucrative ways. Here are the top four hidden secrets from PR professionals for VC’s.
Intimidate Buyers into Acquisitions
This is a phrase used in the world of mergers and acquisitions. If you want a company to buy you, make sure you sell into their client base. This applies to the world of business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer companies. Outside of making a larger organization realize that both your targets might be accretive once together, it’s all about retaining market share and mindshare as top dog in the industry you may be in.
So how does PR work in this sense? PR allows entrants the ability to showcase strength and power without really possessing it via establishing a credible threat. An organization doesn’t need to spend massive branding dollars to feign a run at market share. All they need is a solid PR investment to hit the media in the right ways. If a company can show that they mean business through the media, they will become a potential threat. In the real world, the quickest way to kill a threat is to buy the threat. International innovator, Ticketbis, used this tactic to enter into the U.S. market, and recently got acquired within 10 months for 9 figures, using next to zero marketing investment, also with a less than a 5 figure monthly PR spend.
Keep Competitors Off Your Trail
Houdini could have become the greatest marketer known to man if he was advised to apply himself to the world of commerce and trade. Everyone from large consumer goods brands to small innovators have good reason to throw their competition off before a major release. All PR is not good PR. Especially if it leaks trade secrets, or tips off competitors.
Smart corporate manipulators know how to tip the scales in their favor. By making media relation noise with a straw man endeavor and keeping eyes fixated on the smaller side, an organization can buy their research and development department’s time, privacy and protection from the larger play at hand. By marketing the heck out of a secondary initiative through a feigned leak, brand drive, or light media relations, the real development has bought itself time for entry. Smart publicists know when to keep focus. Smart VC’s often know that the first to enter is usually the largest to exit and advise their communications teams.
Publicize Investors Before Product
It’s no secret that startups will select their VCs and investors based less on dollar amount gained than by actual advisory value of bringing on a certain team. The truth that is less discussed is that the most valuable marketing play is often an investment team. This can change the entire game for a startup. It doesn’t matters if the investment group has zero participation in any facet of the business, because a well-known VC will inspire automatic faith, garner landscape confidence and compel potential customers, vendors, partners and especially other investors to take a long hard glance at the product/service. Think Mark Cuban or Sequoia Capital.
The savvy will use this knowledge to have their PR professionals brand their investors months before the marketplace knows of any potential investment. At the moment a funding round is launched, tying together a product combined with an all-star VC team creates a larger media response and a level of credibility that is nearly unattainable otherwise.
Market A Crisis
The wiliest of investors often rely on emotion based strategy and contrarian undertakings rather than cutting edge technologies and data. While most companies will work endless nights to reduce the nature of a crisis, it is beneficial to keep pushing it further into the public eye to establish a converted hero that can garner far more positive public attention for a company, especially for one that has had mixed reviews.
The best analogies come from a careful study of film, television and entertainers. As a population, we rarely fall for Dudley-do-right at first glance. Instead we like the rough around-the-edges, anti-hero who garners redemption by doing the right thing in the end. We’re enamored by the convert, by the one who sees the error in their ways. From the Grinch to Severus Snape, we clap for them at the end and reflect upon their true colors.
In public relations, this often means finding the right crisis, marketing it the right way, and establishing a turn-around hero who not just cleans up their act, but changes the nature of their organization for the better. This can often be a Hail Mary play to some of the most successful exits in history. It’s about taking something not lackluster, building up the crises and building up the redemption from it.
The initial coin offering (ICO) space is exploding with opportunities, as cryptocurrency becomes poised to permanently disrupt traditional systems of the financial world. A quick scan of the latest headlines pertaining to ICOs reveals just how much finance is flowing in, as millions of dollars are quickly raised by startups planning to revolutionize entire industries with blockchain technology.
Unfortunately, where there is lots of capital, there are plenty of scammers trying to purloin their share. And the faster a sector grows, the easier it becomes for them to do so, as purveyors of fraud quickly learn how to take advantage of newcomers’ knowledge gaps. In the cryptocurrency marketing world, a fool and his bitcoin are soon parted.
- Social Media Influencer scams
A quick search can yield a plethora of individuals offering social media promotion via their “thousands and thousands” of crypto followers. While the thought of this instant exposure and validation may sound attractive, the truth is that it’s usually nothing more than a con-game without any real benefit to a marketer. This is because their offer of multiple tweets, and re-tweets are to the very fake followers they paid $30 for.
To ensure you’re not paying to attract bots and zombie accounts try using an account auditing service like twitteraudit or FollowerCheck. (Note: make sure to check when the audit report was created) If their followers are more than 30% fake, you are throwing money away.
- Pay to Play Press Releases and Article Submission
There are plenty of sites out there that offer paid press releases and articles that may seemingly enhance an ICO’s profile. They try to appear legitimate and industry-focused, but in general, the sites where your content will appear tend to have very little or no traffic, making them a tremendous waste of your promotional resources. In the entire industry perhaps twelve niche sites exist that have the right kind of traffic. The rest do not. End point.
Before you agree to invest in any sort of paid tactics of this nature, do your homework. Even checking the Alexa rankings of the sites where the release/article will go live is a great measure to protect yourself. Anything that is not ranked in the top 150,000 sites is not worth your time or marketing money. And never…ever… buy banner Ads from anyone, unless you take a time machine to 2004.
- Pay to Play Articles in Major Publications
You should always be sure to avoid cash for contributor coverage schemes (Pay for play articles) as an absolute rule of thumb. Not only are these usually a scam that won’t result in anything of value, but they can also lead to legal issues. If a writer/consultant/agency promises to get an article about your ICO published on a well-known site by paying the journalist, kindly decline and seek out organic PR instead.
4. Scam Agencies
Be wary of marketing and public relations firms that state they have represented dozens upon dozens of ICOs. First of all, the development of this space is still relatively new, so the veracity of that claim is unlikely. But even if it is true, given the intense amount of time and resources it takes to properly engage a campaign to promote an initial coin offering, that calls the quality of these efforts into question. Equal due diligence should be given to agencies that claim only focus on crypto. Most of the time, they are just as new to marketing as you are and don’t have the years and years of expertise far more qualified firms would.
If you really want to be sure you’re hiring an effective marketing organization, be sure to dig into the experiences they claim to have. It’s possible that much of what they have done involves one-off engagements rather than strategic partnerships with proven results. And when it comes to the intricacies of promoting an ICO, you’re most certainly going to want the latter.
The initial coin offering marketing world can seem like the wild, wild west in terms of unethical parties willing to go lawless to take advantage of all the money waiting to be made. By entering this space with your eyes wide open, while paying close attention to what’s really being offered, you can ensure you’re promoting your offer the right way with the right people.
This post first appeared in The Next Web, written by our CEO, Zach.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are a fascinating new beast within the startup world. These novel fundraising vehicles are part tech, part finance, and while offering huge profits, also invite a great deal of potential fraud. In their nascent stage, some quick-fire fortunes will likely lead to significant legal problems when it comes to marketing, public relations and promotion.
Investor Relations (IR) professionals have been watching the landscape activity with bemusement as they have seen this all before. Anyone who worked in small or microcap investment marketing during the early days of the digital boom remembers the arrests of naive advertisers entering the space. They also know a worldwide criminal element is endemic to the capital markets. “Pump and Dumps” were not just conducted by some sketchy Florida-based brokerages. Instead, they were often orchestrated by organized criminal groups ranging from gun runners to drug cartels as an easy method to obtain quick cash and launder money. Unfortunately, those same folks are already involved in the ICO atmosphere. These are just some of the challenges that face those entering the brave new world of cryptocurrency.
1. Prepare for Red Tape and Regulations
The days of ICO public relations agencies easily entering and operating within the ICO space are over. Recent SEC statements about initial coin offerings signify there will be greater regulatory and legal issues for those looking to promote this sector. Of these, the biggest concern may be that marketers have little idea whether any given ICO can or will be considered a securities offering.
Precedent indicates ICO advertising will be subject to a set of rules similar to those which govern stock promotion. While this article in no way intends to offer legal advice, the suggestion can be made that marketers across the board should familiarize themselves with the legalities of securities marketing worldwide. Laws of this nature can be intense, ruling over everything from the language of marketing to the techniques utilized as well as the general setup of companies and their third-party help.
At the very least, ICO marketers should study the information that exists on IR legislation with specific attention paid to blue sky laws, securities promotion laws (SEC rule 17b) and broker/dealer laws. Because the reality is that an initial coin offering may be subject to them all. If you’re marketing it incorrectly, this can result in both civil and criminal charges…and no campaign is worth that……….
Want to read the rest? Visit the article on TheNextWeb
Given the competitive nature of the technology startup landscape, the creation of noteworthy marketing may seem an insurmountable task. It’s not enough to have good content, because your rivals do too. Virtually everyone has built a social media presence touting their products. And it isn’t about using simple search engine optimization tools to boost your online efforts, as these can be accessed by anyone with a beginner’s guide to SEO.
The proliferation of advertising platforms means more methods to promote your organization but also more clutter to break through. That makes it necessary to find unique ways to distinguish yourself from the pack. Herein lies the beauty of branded data. It can be used to tell a story about your startup and its capabilities in a credible way that not only makes it shareable but also indefinitely usable.
If your brand isn’t leveraging its own data as a means of self-promotion, here are three reasons it should be:
Elevates Your Communications
If you struggle with finding reasons to talk about your startup that will matter to the press, then branded data is your solution. It allows anyone from tech producers to cloud innovators to create media-worthy stories that tap into human interest. Securing such coverage is just a matter of determining what data you have available and then utilizing it to create insightful narratives about consumer and business trends.
In its Big Data Executive Survey, NewVantage Partners found that 95 percent of respondents had taken on a collection and analysis program over the last five years. This means that nearly every organization is currently capable of amassing facts and figures that allow for limitless opportunities to garner press. While most tech companies will stick to releases about their latest product update or executive hire, branded data is far more newsworthy material that journalists will actually care to write about.
——-Read the rest of this article by our team at https://tech.co/branded-data-future-startup-marketing-2017-07
As the ICO space continues to heat up and garner attention we wanted to announce a new section of our blog that will highlight some of the more strange, interesting, exciting and nefarious tales as we see them rolling in.
Emerging Insider has always had a dual practice area in investor relations and tech PR and so we’ve been long playing in the blockchain space and long educating about initial coin offerings. From pump and dumps to shady operators, millions made in minutes to wallet theft, we hope you’ll be as excited to read some of these stories as we are to write them.
As a Chicago ICO marketing agency, (one of our many diverse practice areas) we tend to be front and center for what we believe should be viewed as the wild west of tech. Giddy-up.
As a marketing and communications firm, we’ll be honest, we utilize most of our energy and creative focus on our clients across adtech, fintech, travel and emerging media. We don’t rest until the press, analysts, investors, partners, and entire industry believes in their product or service as much as we do. This means that we often do not get the time to focus on getting attention ourselves. BUT…we also believe you shouldn’t use a penniless financial planner nor a communications firm without a bit of acclaim.
In accordance with this view, we wanted to take a moment to show off some light work we’ve done to help educate the industry, bring new communications techniques to the forefront and present a bit of our own leadership. Below, find our stats and a bit of our own acclaim.
-We’ve launched over 25 startups, eight of those we ran the course with and took through either 8 or 9 figure exits, many of the the rest are growing with us still.
-We’ve assisted over 16 fortune 500 brands.
-We’ve been featured in journalist driven press articles on 119 differing occasions.
-We’ve contributed over 175 bylines to industry and mass market publications.
-We can count eight differing award wins over history across the company and team.
-14 Keynote speakerships delivered.
-23 Panel sessions participated in.
Some Featured Research:
Augmented Reality: www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhumphrey/2016/09/26/pokemon-go-user-survey-marketing-via-augmented-reality-will-be-complex
Blockchain Marketers: https://www.exchangewire.com/blog/2017/07/06/blockchain-can-revolutionise-marketing-us-leads-europe-smart-home-development/
China’s Digital Affluent: https://jingdaily.com/chinese-rich-mobile-boosts-individualism/
Ad Fraud : https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/258668/6-billion-lost-to-fraudulent-ad-spend.html
Some General Press
Ad Fraud: https://www.inc.com/bill-carmody/problematic-programmatic-media-buying.html
The Reinvention of PR: https://tech.co/startups-reinventing-ancient-industries-2016-05
Digital Video: https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/jan/17/three-factors-scupper-online-video-advertising
Startup Advice: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/296677
Recruiting Thoughts: http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/07/12/6-employers-weigh-in-on-benefits-and-drawbacks-boomerang-employees.html
Some Thought Leadership Bylines:
General PR: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/269920
Advice for Startups: https://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2016/08/22/is-telecommuting-killing-your-startup/#.tnw_jNX1gH0t
Branded Data: http://www.prnewsonline.com/earning-branded-content
Native Advertising: https://nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/blog/use-native-advertising-amplify-content/
Here at EI, we see plenty of startups looking to evangelize innovations. From augmented reality and health tech to the Internet of Things, a slew of new products and services are revolutionizing responses to both consumer needs and industry pain points. But the unfortunate truth is that 75% of these ventures will fail due to issues involving the brand’s business model, approach or focus.
For those looking to break into the competitive technology space, avoiding these common pitfalls will serve you well:
- Don’t aim for disruption. Aim for enhancement.
There’s an old guard protecting the landscape and a variety of organizations who believe they can disrupt it. What most do not realize is that the marketplace is already experiencing immense changes that can be categorized as less of a “disruption” and more so “business as usual” with a twist. Sure, there are technologies and behaviors that are altering many aspects of the business. And of course, there are industry giants poised to take on specific elements in the space. But the bottom line is that there are very smart, well-financed and protected organizations that are capable of rolling with the punches. Smart startups will seek to pinpoint challenges within the tech sector and craft innovations to address them. They will not look to upend a very profitable system, but seek to enhance it. Ultimately, they will figure out compelling ways to affect positive changes while realizing that disruption is not the key to success.
- Proof of concept is king.
The technology world is a hype-filled place. The industry is fast-paced, ever-changing and offers plenty of monetary gain, so there’s plenty of people constantly trying to enter it. Some of them are great marketers, but that doesn’t mean their products will live up to the excitement they manage to create about them. If your organization is unable to provide a tangible product, all the hype in the world won’t help you. Even before promotional efforts begin, you must prove your technology actually works. There is no such thing as “we’re working out a few kinks.” If a product is ready, it’s ready; and if it’s not, it’s not. On top of proving this validity, a company must also prove the business case. In fact, this is the single most important task for any emerging tech brand. Your business case should be well-structured to perfectly capture the reason and need for your product. In this industry, the folks that live up to the hype and present a proof of concept are the ones that will flourish.
- Jump off the buzzword bandwagon for success that is not short-lived.
All too often, startups, innovators and well-established companies will create and innovate new products based on buzzwords alone. The problem with this approach is that buzzwords are fads, and by the time a product finally goes to market there may already be another buzzword in its place. Seeking to capitalize on specific trends is a short-term strategy based on novelty that doesn’t have any real staying power. Marketing a product solely built around a temporary buzzword is not only a giant gamble that typically doesn’t pay off, it’s also a crutch for the less creative to lean on. Instead of relying on words that may be huge today and gone tomorrow, create your own terms that will allow for profitable results.
Any promising startup can make these common mistakes, which is why we are here to help assist with creating and executing the best marketing strategy for your innovative product or service. By keeping these major blunders in mind while working to craft a paramount business approach, we’ll have the best possible chance of successfully launching you and your product into the technology marketplace.
An article based on Emerging Insider’s deep dive into the purchasing habits of China’s affluent population was just featured by Jen King in Jing Daily. It includes data and insights from our CEO about how wealthy Chinese mobile users interact with brands…and why that should matter to marketers.
To read the full story, click here.
In a mobile world where so many of our interactions have become digitized, there’s still a lot to be said for humanized conversations. The findings of a recent study by RingPartner made this especially evident by garnering numbers that should make modern day marketers look up from their smartphones and pay attention.
RingPartner is a performance marketing network that works with digital publishers to deliver millions of inbound consumer calls to advertisers. That put them in the unique position to analyze hundreds of thousands of these connections made each month to better understand how consumers want to interact with businesses over the phone.
Based on this research, the company found the desire to have actual conversations with brands is on the rise, with consumers spending an average of 113% more time on the phone with businesses in 2017 than they did in 2016. The report goes on to break down what this means for different industries and how seasonality affects both call volume and conversion rates throughout the year.
The bottom line is that consumers still want to reach out and touch someone. It is your organization’s responsibility to ensure your marketing, sales and customer service strategies allow for that opportunity and make it the best possible experience.
The full report can be downloaded here.
Print ads are undoubtedly one of the most tried-and-true forms of marketing communications. But that doesn’t make them feel any less antiquated. Even when advertisements push the envelope with creative infusions that defy the standard construct, there’s only so much they can do to sell products or services in a way that makes consumers care or, at the very least, doesn’t bore them.
Augmented Reality (AR) is a real-time view of the physical world, altered with computer-generated stimuli, that has proven to be incredibly successful for marketing purposes by creating personalized content that fosters a meaningful connection to promotional print materials.
Home furnishings giant IKEA, for example, created an AR program to go along with their 2014 catalog. Users could scan the printed images of items they liked with an app which then allowed them to see how the furniture would look and fit inside a room. This approach not only turned catalog shopping into a new way to interact with a product before buying it, it also helped consumers avoid a dreaded pilgrimage to the world’s most intimidating furniture store.
Vespa, an Italian scooter company, used augmented reality to add functionality to their magazine campaign. By viewing the ads through an AR app, consumers could build their own customized scooter, selecting from various colors, styles and accessories. GPS instructions to the nearest Vespa dealer were also conveniently included.
The New Yorker integrated AR technology into the front and back covers of its magazine to modernize the experience of printed reading materials. Both featured an illustrated cityscape that, when seen through an augmented reality app, allowed readers to view the artwork as if they were a part of it, creating an entirely new way to engage with a traditional medium.
Each of these brands utilized AR techniques that elevated the consumer experience by giving good ol’ print pieces a much-needed face-lift. By including a call out to view them with an augmented reality app, you can literally make words jump off the page with things like product photos or service demonstrations that give a 360-degree view of every attribute.
Ultimately, augmented reality enables printed pieces to include additional creative and informative content that may not fit within a typical template. As marketers look to find ways this established form of communication can be revitalized to keep up with far more innovative tools, AR should be considered for the technology’s ability to monopolize a consumer’s attention span while deepening their relationship with what is being promoted.