6 Ways To Get Great PR For Your Stealth Mode Startup

PR for Startups
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Operating a startup in stealth mode is like walking around with a diamond in your pocket and not being able to tell anyone about it. At least that is what it feels like to most entrepreneurs. A stealth mode startup is one where the “Ideator” or Founder does not reveal the startup idea to anyone, till he/she has convinced its investors or found potential customers and employees. While many advocate against going through the “stealth route”, many believe in the “Ideas are cheap, it is execution that matters” mantra.

An all-out marketing campaign may not be necessary if you are starting up in stealth mode. However, a strategically placed PR is helpful in getting you your first customers and the numbers that your investors will invariable ask you for.

Here we give you 6 simple ways to get yourself that much needed PR without revealing everything about your startup.

  1. Create a Social Media Presence

    Social Media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow you to control who views your posts. Facebook and Google Plus groups, subscription to Twitter lists and networking with the right accounts and groups on LinkedIn gives your product a voice. There may be times when you may want to keep even your product name hidden. In this case, you can choose a neutral name related to the industry or better still, a character or mascot related to your product.

  2. Market the person, not the product

    Build an online presence for the person behind the product. If, as the Founder, you wish to stay incognito (yes, some people do like that!) find someone who can act as the face of the brand in future. Invest time and effort in building a brand presence for this individual. When your business is ready to go live, this person’s network will not only give you your first set of customers, but also provide ready-to-use PR.

  3. Become a thought leader

    "Content is King”, this phrase may be cliché, but has never been as true as in today’s digital age. Publish quality content online, pertaining to the niche you decide to operate in. Market content. Becoming a thought leader via quality content on the digital medium will not only establish you as an expert in your domain, your blog will become the mouthpiece for your product when it is ready for launch and your readers would become your first customers.

  4. Use a mailing list

    Research shows that 77% of consumers prefer to receive marketing communications through email, while 44% consumers make buying decisions based on promotional emails. This is because when people provide you their email ID, it gives you an opportunity to take permission to market to them. So invest time and effort in building up an email list. These could be your friends and family, other entrepreneurs, mentors, etc. This list acts as a closed user group to whom you can publish updates pertaining to your business, without attracting too much public attention. Additionally, once you launch the business, you have a readymade list of subscribers, which you can now expand.

  5. Use the power of WOM

    Word-of-Mouth publicity or WOM has now been recognised by social media gurus as an official marketing tool. This original social media marketing technique, used even decades ago by the local kiranewala is actually perfect for a stealth mode startup. You can selectively push information to your peers, control the amount of information shared as well as the circles it is likely to reach. This kind of publicity also takes time to build up, which works perfectly for your stealth startup. Timed correctly, it will ensure enough people know about your business by the time you launch it.

  6. Network with the right people

    In a stealth mode startup, you cannot talk to people about your product or business idea. But that does not mean that you cannot build up a network of relevant contacts. Networking is a crucial part of preparing a product for launch. This includes online networking via social media, conversations on forums and information sharing portals, as well as offline networking via meetups, conferences and one-to-one discussions. The day you are ready to go-to-market with your product, this network will play a vital role in providing you your first customers as well as opportunities for alliances and partnerships.

The methods listed above are not only useful for startups that operate in stealth mode, most of them can be used to market a business on a shoestring budget, making them ideal for startups where the founders have bootstrapped. While stealth mode startups may not always require pre-launch PR, these methods would certainly help lay the ground for a post-launch marketing campaign.

Arunima Shekhar has 9+ years of experience developing, designing and marketing technology. Currently she is Co-Founder at Scrambled Works - a creativity lab. In the past, she founded Tell-A-Tale, an education startup.

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