Alexandra Connerty joined METRO Accelerator powered by Techstars as an associate for the Hospitality 2017 program. She has several years of experience in communications and copywriting in the startup environment, and shared with me some key insights for your business…
Does communication play a key role in a startup’s success?
Let me clarify something. When startups think of communication, they usually think of traditional PR. But communication is something much larger: from the way you present yourself, talk, write, walk into a meeting, to the format of your business cards.
Most of the time, we think we know how to behave and communicate, and don’t really take the time to think about it. But it can have a direct impact on your business. You should have a clear strategy in mind from day 1. Ask yourself; “How do I want people to perceive me, look at me and experience me as a founder and as a company?”.
You can distinguish between different types of communication in your company.
On one hand, there is your visual communication. This limits who you will reach and be able to connect with – the design of your logo, and your color scheme for example.
On the other hand, there is your written communication – the name of your company, your sales deck, and your value propositions. You can surely consider these points as branding or sales activities. But, it can be helpful in the long term to think of it as a whole strategy of communication and try to keep a consistent voice across everything you do. This can be one of the most neglected parts of a company and is quite difficult to do.
What about my product, when should I begin to spread the news about it?
Everyone asks “When should I start doing Press Releases?”. For me, the answer is quite simple: When your product doesn’t have substantial changes anymore, and after its market validation. There is no point in doing a huge PR push if you don’t have a validated product or the capacities within your team to convert the customers coming in from it.
If your product is not at its validation phase yet, you can still raise awareness about who you are and the skills you have, by setting up your personal branding. You need to position yourself as an expert as quickly as possible – it will help you a lot when approaching partners or investors later on.
Personal branding is though not a requirement. As obvious as it seems, you should always focus on building your business, your product, and the sales processes first. But your personal brand is a powerful way to leverage awareness around your business, get people excited about what you are doing, and build trust in yourself and the team. When used strategically, this is a cheap way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
What’s next in communications?
People like stories. The future communications will be done by storytellers. These are the people that are able to identify something interesting and communicate it so it becomes interesting for other people, catches their attention and takes them on a journey. Storytellers might need to adapt their skills, because of new media and technology, but if they are good at catching the attention of an audience, they will always be in demand.
Have a look at the first interview with Ali: “Being a Techstars Associate”.