PR and Marketing Plan
“One of the most important things that you must know is that there is a tech-talk that you should listen to, which is about the Law of Innovation Diffusion. Right! This says there are Innovators in the world, there are First Movers in the world. Now, you first as a start-up should market only to these people, don’t go to main stream. Main stream is for resource-rich, in other words, cash-rich companies. So, over the top advertising can help you get mainstream, but if you’re not filthy rich like that, then you’re better off with reaching out to ‘Innovators’ and ‘alpha-users’, because those people are the network influencers, and then they influence other people to get to your product. Now how do I reach out to them? They’re fairly easy intelligent people. You just write your blog posts, you just write again on social media, you can do a little bit of advertising at fairly niche targeted places, is speaking at conferences, go out at conferences and see the effect. I even suggest that even putting a standee in a conference at a very cheap rate or barter with the conference organization is an equally effective method for a start-up.
Once you have done a little bit of marketing which is about spending money on getting your buzz, PR kicks in immediately. Sometimes you can get a massive good PR in advance, but once people know you little, they are Comfortable to do this PR because startups need a little bit of differentiation when a PR guy or the blog is writing about you. So, PR requires you to do some things extra ordinary nifty. As One97, we’ve done something called ‘Calendar’. We propagated the philosophy that every influential person in the country should carry One97 as a brand on their desk, and once they know what One97 is, people coming to meet them will know One97. So we created a nifty feature called Calendar and every year we work hard to create our calendar. Now you could create some of those differentiated unique things which are associated with yourself, you know! You might say that what could this be; is it about giving free USB drives and pen with your logo? The answer is no, it’s not about that! Answer is that you could create research reports which are coming regularly on a topic and people pick that up and write about you, you know! You could talk about good or bad ugly practices or how to overcome them and similar kind of articles and again go out in the market and PR will love to talk to you. Once you build this credibility sorts, then people start following/calling you as an opinion leader. So, first you have to build an opinion stand and then once you are an opinion leader, people start coming to you, and that’s exactly where the PR is, that you’ll be written on the topic/that you’ll be the topic of writing.
So, I think the answer lies in a Hindi song that says – ‘Mera naam karega roshan, mera rajdulara.’ So, for your company, your product is your thing that will help you claim your name, right! So, you shouldn’t bother about your company, you should bother about your company’s outputs and the people who are using it. Emotions will come if the product is incredible, not when the company is credible. Company is for stakeholders called shareholders and employees, at a world large level, no press wants to read about your company unless there is a great product, guys!
Let’s say, you’re a company which has a couple of products, so which products should you promote is another problem that you could go with. You’ve to remember that you have to reach out to the influential. In your PR and Marketing Plan, you should have – I’m going to create Brand ambassador’s theory, and then they’ll create the network effect. Now, can they create it by Your small niche products or buy your big bumper products – the choice is yours! If you’ve a large rich product which gets you a lot of money but is not very popular or is nearly equal to everything else, your small niche product can be that differentiating thing or vice-versa, that you’re putting all your money on the big brands. Coca-Cola does this; they put Coke on to a very different mission statement, and fight every other peer or average company on their small niche brands. So, the choice remains yours that which one makes you want to create as a brand that is where your long term association will come in. And, I believe in that creation of a repeat brand value. So, pick up one name which Can get associated, like Times gets associated with Times, Airtel gets Associated with Airtel; imagine, Airtel landline – how oxymoronic is that as a name, an Airtel TV, again! But sometimes, we have to have these oxymoronic Names together because the first tagline or the name we’ve learnt and built over a period of time can give its rub-off effect on our second product. So, I suggest creation of aiming of Airtel, not Bharti or not a separate brand for different product. Single focused brand across all things is a better product and marketing strategy anytime.
Whenever in doubt whether you should promote your company name or your products’ brand name, it is products’ brand name. Sunil Bharti Mittal doesn’t promote Bharti enterprises, he promotes Airtel, right? So, everybody promotes their brand name, the reason for that is you can repeat brand name usage while your company name might get changed. Sometimes in different countries, you might run a different company name, but your brand name might be the same. So, the company name is something which is back end and product name or product is something which is front-end. So, sell the front-end!”
This is part of a video series in which our founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma advises Start Ups on several crucial aspects in a NASSCOM initiative - 10000 Startups, which aims at incubating, funding and supporting 10,000 technology start-ups in India over the next 10 years.