The key ingredients for the success of any brand—startup or otherwise—are the right people, the right processes and the right technology. One could have the greatest idea, but it’s nothing without the people who know what to do with it, while employing the latest innovations an industry has to offer to bring that idea to life. And the key to success is knowing your customer, whether online or offline.
This may be common sense for some entrepreneurs; what isn’t always an obvious step is raising awareness in your market and nearby or similar markets about the work you’re doing. Contrary to common knowledge, the point of this is not merely touting your own horn. It’s about positioning your brand as a thought leader in the market, keeping your customer base (current or potential) informed of your latest services and offerings, appealing to new partners who will seek you out when they see an alignment in objectives, and attracting top talent, which any world-class brand is always seeking.
The way to do this is through sophisticated and strategic media relations and marketing efforts.
On the communications front
What’s been tried and tested to be fruitful is that your team works hand-in-hand with media to determine what works for a particular announcement. Press releases are great but can’t always be the answer. If you’re announcing a certain product launch, giving journalists the opportunity to experience the product and concept you’re about to launch before they write about it will go a long way.
In addition to having public relations expertise, it’s essential that your communications team understands the way the media operates in the region, is highly qualified in both English and Arabic, and can operate in both languages with the same level of proficiency and comfort.
It is key that the team keeps regular contact with journalists to ensure they’re apprised of the latest developments. You want to be the go-to source for a journalist looking for insights into your industry. When this happens, try to be accommodating, whenever possible, and provide media with what they want. This game is a two-way street. You need to be able to reach out and pitch, but also respond to media queries when they come your way.
On the marketing front
It’s important that your marketing team doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach or operate under the pretense that, just because a method has worked fine in the past, you can’t further enhance it.
Let the marketing team try new things. As an example, if the traditional route to promote a service or product is web first then a mobile app, and your team proposes going the other way around, trust them, it works. This will allow you to quickly build a much more engaged user-base than the traditional route through forming a much richer customer profile and understanding in-depth customer behavior in very little time. Ultimately, this means that you can reach the right customer at the right time with the right message.
Your communications and marketing leads have got to work very closely together from the get-go. This is not recommended, it’s mandatory, the only way to do it. This may sound evident, but it rarely happens. Doing this will help ensure consistent messaging and a united front, which speaks volumes about your brand and the way your leadership team runs.
As a unified entity, your communications and marketing teams will continuously have their finger on the pulse of the industry and the markets where you operate, so they keep an eye out for trends that you can leverage and comment on, which would help align your brand with these trends and position the organization as a thought leader in the market.
Last but not least, metrics. Anything you’ve read about their importance is an understatement. A few years ago, before metrics were possible, a brand had to make assumptions as to what the users or consumers want. We’re much luckier today; we have all of this at our fingertips, so it would be a waste not to take advantage of it. Do more of what your customers want, less of what they really don’t want, and slightly tweak what they’re unsure about to tilt that scale. Metrics tell you a lot more when you start tracking them religiously; you’ll begin to see patterns, which you can then tie to trends in the industry.
Byron Koller is the Chief Marketing Officer for AYM Commerce. Siobhan McCarthy is the Director of Communications for AYM Commerce.