Coming up with an original idea and a realistic business plan is only half the battle when it comes to successfully launching a new hyperlocal platform. With the failure rate for startups sitting around 75%, entrepreneurs need more than just a great idea to launch a successful hyperlocal business — they need a way to promote it.
Here are eight strategies for generating PR and promoting a new hyperlocal platform, delivered by executives who’ve been in that very same position.
1. Create your own water cooler. To generate publicity for a hyperlocal platform, you need to target your audience where they live and breathe. Publish insightful articles and blogs that build your leadership on key topics in media outlets that your target audience reads. Pro-actively comment on blogs and leverage social media sites (like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook) by “liking” or re-tweeting messages that align with your company’s core principles. Continued sharing of impactful stories will lead to meaningful connections and opportunities. (Ryan Golden, Moasis)
2. Respond to big news stories. When a big story breaks in your market, that’s the time to act. Journalists will be covering the story, looking for a unique angle to help their article stand out. By crafting a well-timed response — either in the form of an email, blog post, or a comment on social media — you can position yourself as an expert on the topic and weave yourself into big industry news. (Mark Cooper, Offerpop)
3. Utilize offline marketing and in-store opportunities. Working with merchant and retail partners to leverage their brick-and-mortar stores to promote your platform is an excellent way to build awareness. By promoting their service at a merchant’s point-of-sale, and using tabletop cards and door stickers, startups can create visibility and drive adoption rates. Traditional channels help drive people to more efficient forms of communication, i.e. the mobile device. (Brian Ehrlich, SAMY)
4. Issue momentum releases. As the platform grows, issue a regular stream of momentum releases on milestones — like the number of businesses that have signed up for accounts, inroads into key markets, or the number of businesses in certain industry verticals. At AdLeads, we have issued momentum updates for a variety of milestones, including when we launched and when we expanded into 27 countries. (Arun Krishnan, Pontiflex)
5. Create a referral program. Referral programs can quickly generate growth for a hyperlocal startup. Full Slate offers a one-month credit for referrals that become paying customers. “We have one customer who has collected over a dozen referral credits just from mentioning us favorably in a couple of blog posts. Customers are thrilled when we notify them of their credit — oftentimes they don’t even realize they influenced someone’s decision to try Full Slate. Once they get their first credit, they typically send more referrals our way.” (Bill Lange, Full Slate)
6. Let data do the talking. As you build a client basis, you can start collecting and analyzing data. These data points could provide untold insights into your industry or profession. Offer your data to the press, and provide a clear, sharp analysis of the information you have collected. In other cases, you may want to provide the data directly to your audience through blog posts or on your own website. (Mark Cooper, Offerpop)
7. Partner with a charitable organization. Find a charitable organization that shares your mission and values, and create a campaign that’s win/win for both of your groups. Build a long-term partnership with the charity by doing something meaningful, rather than just using the organization to be a “good community citizen.” “At Venga, we collected food to benefit DC Central Kitchen, and we continue to participate in team volunteer days and spread the word about their accomplishments on social media.” (Winston Lord, Venga)
8. Be SMART. When you try to do it all, you won’t do it well. Be highly focused with tactics and activities, and set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Oriented) communication goals for your startup. “Be sure to revisit these goals on a regular, possibly quarterly, basis, and don’t be afraid to modify them when necessary.” (Ryan Golden, Moasis)
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.
Image courtesy of Flickr user katielips.