As a founder of a start-up, there are so many hats to wear that it can be difficult to manage them all. Because of time, energy and budget constraints, it’s critical that you be intentional in all of your efforts, including increasing your visibility. To avoid being overwhelmed, focus on finding strategies that are efficient and effective, and then make a plan that can be executed successfully. Every strategy should include multiple beneficial outcomes, or it’s not worth doing, so incorporate the expected outcomes into your plan.
Intentional visibility should be a part of every founder’s game plan. As a founder you want to learn, expand your resources (time, talent, treasure), and amplify the targeted message of your company. Visibility is not sales. It needs to be a pointed message that is more than “try our product.” There are many ways to be visible, but the following five suggestions have multiple benefits worth considering.
1. Have an advisory board
As a founder, creating an advisory board can be a useful way to approach strategic partners and corporate mentors. Creating the board and finding members allows a founder to approach these excellent resources and invite them to be a part of the company’s success. In making an ask of these individuals that is not about funding, you are opening up the conversation. Members of the board will be invested in you and your company, offering you an opportunity to learn and to access their networks for additional growth – and funding – opportunities.
Benefits: advice, strategic public relations and potential funding
2. Host round tables with key stakeholders
Organize and host a round-table or panel discussion about your industry. As the organizer (and likely moderator) you get to define the conversation. If you are breaking into a new market, this is a strategic way to do it. The panel should consist of experts and peers whose presence will draw additional interest. As participants, they will be using their own networks to promote the panel, adding to your own efforts, and giving you access to their networks of influence. You should also consider sponsors like law firms or banks who would see a benefit to their own visibility and add to the credibility of the event.
Benefits: strategic narrative, multiple people marketing the event, targeted PR to get attendance
3. Pitch to speak at innovation conferences
Innovation conferences take an in-depth look at the latest trends, provide excellent networking opportunities and draw participants interested in gaining important knowledge. Be a leader and stand out in the crowd by pitching to be a speaker at a conference in your industry or for start ups. To maximize the impact of your efforts, be deliberate in picking your conferences. Look into regional conferences like Synapse in Florida or national conferences like SXSW. The key is to select a potential audience of peers and partners on whose radar screen you want to appear. The process of preparing the pitch and, hopefully, delivering the talk, is an excellent opportunity to hone your message, and the promotion of the conference provides you with broader PR.
Benefits: tighten message, PR, credibility
4. Collaborate with universities
Colleges and universities are a fantastic resource for your startup. By offering an internship program or work for class credit, you can establish a relationship that starts an employee recruiting funnel and creates connections with academics and alumni whose collaboration and networks will benefit the company. Association with a university increases the credibility of your message. In addition, working with the coming generation of entrepreneurs and business people is an excellent way to give back.
Benefits: give back, PR, credibility, recruiting
5. Interview others in a webinar or podcast
Branding is now possible in multiple media, and conducting webinars or having a regular podcast can increase your profile and leverage your message. A podcast with regular guests gives you an opportunity to connect with your peers, partners and experts in a mutually beneficial context. It invites these guests to open their networks to increase your marketing reach, and it can be a set format so that preparation is simply a matter of adapting fixed questions to the new guest. Done well, a webinar establishes you as an industry thought leader.
Benefit: Questions repeatable, reinforce message, amplify marketing, not alone
As a startup founder you need to fit these opportunities into the broader narrative of your own and the company’s brands – your “WHY.” These efforts each give multiple returns on the investment of time and effort, and done intentionally, they can be truly effective. The messaging and expansion of your network through strategic contact and connections will increase your visibility while accomplishing other goals.
Be a noisebreaker,