Communications for startups can be very challenging, especially when you're trying to build your core business. But it is a necessary aspect of your success, because if people don't know who you are, understand your product or service, and trust you, it will be impossible to find customers or investors.
With the internet and especially social media, everyone has the chance to share their message without barriers. You don’t have to get the editor of a newspaper to agree to publish your words or pay money for an advertisement. You can share what you want, when you want, and share it widely. This means two things: (1) there is so much opportunity to get your message heard and (2) there is also significant competition, as there are so many voices. So how do you stand out?
There are three principles of communication that can help your business' message reach its intended audience effectively:
If you are a startup that doesn't have the capacity to have a robust communications team, here are some tools and strategies that can help you start to build a foundation and to be as efficient as possible.
Consistency requires planning. If you have to come up with something from scratch each day or week, it is incredibly challenging. Instead, make a plan for several months in advance. A planning template is helpful for several reasons. It allows you to have all your ideas in one place and gives a general overview of what is coming up ahead and where there may be gaps. Additionally, it helps in being purposeful about what you’re posting. Come up with a few themes that are helpful in moving your business forward. Everything you post or share should fall within those categories.
A template also breaks down the tasks and makes it less overwhelming. The idea of a monthly blog might seem impossible when thinking about it theoretically. But if you’re planning for the next 6 months, that means coming up with 6 ideas. If you’re planning for the next year, it means 12. If you sit down with your team, I guarantee you can come up with 6-12 ideas!
Batching work is a way of working that focuses on one type of task at a time. In the area of communications, this means sitting down and coming up with ideas for social media posts for the next several months. Then, after the ideas have been formed, coming up with all the captions for those social media posts. Then finding all the photos, and so on. Rather than doing one post from start to finish, you complete step 1 for all posts, then step 2 for all posts, etc. It allows your mind to focus on one type of task rather than switching gears over and over again. This can be applied to all areas of work, but is definitely useful for communications.
Make the most out of every interesting piece of content. For example, a blog can be repurposed as several social media posts (maybe one post for every heading in the blog). A press release can be repurposed into an article, adding some photos and making it more dynamic. A report can be repurposed into a blog series. A quote from a client can be put into a poster and then used as the heading in a newsletter. As much as possible, break apart and rearrange what you already have rather than starting from scratch. One communications piece should eventually result in anywhere from 3-5 different outputs.
Newsletters are the ultimate repurposing tool. You can use MailChimp to create a template for a monthly newsletter, then simply populate it with all the things you’ve already communicated that month. The blog that was published, the event that was attended, any significant news relating to your company, etc. The other great thing about a newsletter is that it is a captive audience – they are choosing to receive this information by signing up to your mailing list. Building up your mailing list (make sure to follow methods that comply with GDPR regulations!) is another slow and steady process. Have a place on your website where people can sign up for it. At events you host, ask people for their email addresses as part of the sign-in (just make sure it’s clear they're opting into the newsletter by doing so).
Effective communications grow slow and steady, so don’t be afraid to start simple. Be realistic about your capacity and commit to doing things in a sustainable way. For social media, choose 1-2 platforms to start. What platform is your audience on? Don’t try to be all things to all people. Use programs like Canva to make simple designs that you can use over and over again (just switching out the photo and text). Maybe eventually you’ll hire a graphic designer, video editor, or full-time communications professional. For now, work with what you have. There are so many tools that make things more accessible!
If you are a startup in the health and life sciences looking for incubation support, please find more information about the support Villgro offers here.
Interested in learning more? You can watch a full communications masterclass here: