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How to Get Press for Your Startup in 2019 with PR Hacking

How to Get Press for Your Startup in 2019 with PR Hacking

How to Break the Internet with PR Hacking
By
Houston Golden, Co-Founder & CEO of BAMF.Media

When I was young, I wanted to be a famous musician. I reached out to many publications to cover my music, but no one would. At the same time, one of my closest friends, Connor, got a ton of his music covered.

The difference?

Connor personalized his outreach to the bloggers. He’d write about previous posts they’d published and pitch stories around his music.

That’s when I realized there was a systematic way to get PR placements. Let’s break it down:

Types of PR Placements

  • Interviews

This can be an interview on a podcast or a full-fledge write-up like we do on the BAMF Media blog.

  • Featured Stories

This is more of a “Hey, check out the story of this team or product.”

  • Paid Placements

This is when a blogger, fan page, or influencer responds, “Hey, it will cost this much for a shout out.”

  • Product Reviews / Testimonials

YouTube videos rank on Google Search, too.


Why Does it Matter?

By getting PR placements, it helped build third-party credibility. It’s the difference between you saying you’re great vs. the opposing team’s coach calling you a star player. Not only does is build credibility, but it can often send a wave of traffic to your site. In our case, we use the third-party credibility to warm cold audiences with Facebook ads.

This way when we run an ad later to the same audience to visit our page, we get much more positive feedback. There are even more benefits, including building your site authority with Google. The more content you have from well-renowned sources linking to your site, the better Google will treat your site when it comes to ranking content.

Using the tool, Alexa, we can see all the websites linking into BAMF.Media.

Depending on the placement, you can get upwards to thousands of visitors from one article. If you have a story worth sharing, often you can get it placed many times from tutorial, reviews, and features which can turn PR into a scalable marketing channel.

Start with Data

To get placements, you need the contact info of journalists, podcasters, and fan pages. An easy way to get this data is to download it from BuzzSumo for journalists, have a virtual assistant scrape iTunes for podcasters, or use Socialbakers for fan pages.

For BuzzSumo, we search for content relevant to our subject matter. If we’re a tea company, then we may search “tea.” This will bring up every article about tea. We can set preferences for when these articles were written from the last 24 hours to 5 years.

The next step is to click the Export button and download this data.

Here’s what it looks like:

Once you have this data, make sure to clean it up. All you need is the author name and website URL. From there, break apart the company name from the website URL by using the Power Tools’ Google Sheet add-on. Once you do that, you can now process this data through Hunter.io to get their emails using the Email Finder feature.

You can do the same with Anyleads.

Better yet, you can use Phantombuster to get the LinkedIn URLs of the people you have in your Google Sheet using their LinkedIn Profile URL Finder API. Then you can process this into Anyleads to get their personal emails.

Contactout will also give you their personal emails. From there, you can upload this list into Facebook as a custom audience. This will give you the ability to remarket to these journalists about your company before they even get your pitch.

The same process works with Facebook fan pages using Socialbakers.

Here’s the resulting data.

There a couple of ways to do this one. You can either DM their page or use Hunter.io t0 pull employee emails from each company’s marketing department at scale.

For podcasts, select a category and/or subcategory of podcasts you want to scrape using the iTunes desktop podcast library.

Copy and paste the podcast list to Column A in a new Google sheet. Since the list is separated by alphabetical page, you will need to get a virtual assistant to copy and paste the list 27 times (A-Z, #) in order to get a complete list. Or have them use Listly’s bulk URL processor to get all the data from each page in one click.

Remove “(MP3)” and “(HD)” words from column one by using the Power Tools add-on (Add-ons > Power Tools > Remove > Remove a substring: > “(MP3)”, “(HD)” > Remove)

Update the Google sheet settings so that anyone with the shareable link can view. Run the Google Sheet through Phantombuster’s Domain Name Finder.

  1. Spreadsheet URL: [shareable Google sheet URL]
  2. Column name… : [*no text*]
  3. Ignored domains: [youtube.com]

    [apple.com]

    [vimeo.com]

    [yahoo.com]

    [stitcher.com]

Save, then launch Phantombuster. Depending on your list size, this may take a few minutes to a few hours. Export the list and upload to a new Google Sheet.

Run the Domain Name Finder worksheet through Phantombuster’s LinkedIn Company URL Finder. Export the results to a new Google Sheet. Next, run this worksheet through Phantombuster’s LinkedIn Companies Employees.

Export the results to a new Google Sheet. Format “currentJob” column so all rows contain the string “host.” From here, filter by relevant job title. Then use Linked Helper to LinkedIn message them at scale based on their LinkedIn URL and Hunter to bulk process the filtered list into emails.

Personalize it

This part is a bit harder. You need a virtual assistant to check out the post from each blogger and description from each podcaster. Then use a piece of it in the email or LinkedIn message. The idea here is to make it feel natural.

If the recipient feels like you sent that message only to them, then they’ll be more likely to respond to your emails and messages.

How to Structure Your Email

Personalized Intro

  • Example: Pre-written personal blogger statements
  • 1-2 sentence pitch
  • 3-4 value props / topics of interest
    • buzzworthy stories related to brand
    • thought leadership / subject-matter expertise
    • how we did XYZ to achieve X
    • notable milestones / accomplishments
  • Define Clear Call to Action (CTA)
    • “Scheduling a call, interview, next steps, let’s chat”
  • Sender Persona + Profile Pic

Start Your Outreach Campaign

I’d recommend using the tool Mailshake to send emails in, ideally, five-stage sequences. Sync Mailshake with Calendly using  Zapier. If your main call to action is to book a call using Calendly, then you can use this Zap to take the recipient out of the sequence if they book.

Here’s an example email:

The results?

TechCrunch:

Use Your Powers Wisely

With the right story and the right recipients, you can seed the next viral story.

Imagine your product being talked about across many publications from TechCrunch to Time. Traffic. Backlinks. Customers. All at your fingertips.

5 Tools Every Growth Hacker Should Use

5 Tools Every Growth Hacker Should Use

Want smart growth hacking tools that actually make your job easier?

Don’t waste your time on sites that haven’t been updated in years or programs that cost more than they deliver.

Here are 5 tried-and-true tools to take your marketing strategy to the next level.

  1. Pave AI

Make data-driven decisions to increase your ROI with Pave AI.

Pave AI turns your Google Analytics data into usable insights, showing you which strategies are working for you and which aren’t. Their algorithms look at over 16 millions possible combinations across every marketing channel to find the most relevant insights.

Your report is personalized to your goals, whether you’re aiming for more eyes on your blog or more sales on your e-commerce site.

It takes seconds to set up and will completely change how you approach your website’s metrics.

2. Never Bounce

The worst part about sending email blasts?

Finding out that most of them never reached their target.

Never Bounce makes sure that your email campaigns actually go to their intended recipients by verifying the email addresses beforehand. You can upload your entire mailing list and Never Bounce will give you a clean list of active email addresses.

Their dashboard shows you which addresses are safe to send to and which are a definite no-go, checking each address up to 75 times to make sure no duds fall through the cracks. Results are broken into 5 simple categories, with over 25 advanced metrics behind them to ensure your email gets as many eyes on it as possible.

If they don’t get your bounce rate below 3%, they’ll refund you the difference.

3. Whatruns

Whatruns has one job: telling you what technology any website uses.

That’s anything from how they track their visitors to their WordPress plugins to the CDN they’re hosted on.

You can even set notifications for a website, so you’ll always know when they add something new or drop an old feature.

Best part?

You aren’t dropping thousands of dollars on this Chrome extension.

It’s totally free.

Seriously. All of your competitor’s tricks of the trade can be right at your fingertips for nothing. You can’t tell me this one isn’t worth a try.

4. Botletter

If you’ve shifted from email to Facebook Messenger, then Botletter should be at the top of your list. They boast a super easy setup process: connect to your company’s Facebook page, set your greeting message, and you’re golden. You can then schedule more messages to go out on whatever timeframe you want.

Don’t worry — going through Botletter won’t make your content look canned. Their customizable template allows you to add in whatever you’d like to catch your readers’ eyes. You can even filter your subscribers out by everything from subscription date to gender, so your messages can be tailored to your audience.

And when all is said and done, they’ll show you the numbers for every Messenger campaign — click-through rate, open rate, even the details per subscriber.

They say their open rate averages at 80% — for numbers like that, Botletter is worth giving a go.

5. Dareboost

A good website is more than just good copy.

It has to run well, too.

Dareboost provides a full breakdown of your website’s performance, showing you both where you’re weakest and what you can do to improve. It’ll also constantly monitor your website for loading time and quality issues, so you can rest easy knowing your website is running at its prime.

And if you want, you can even compare your website to your competitor’s to make sure that your load times aren’t driving customers to their site, not yours.

They’ll give you your first report for free, so you can take a peek at how your website is doing to try it out.

Takeaways

While these tools can totally revolutionize how you run your business, don’t get bogged down with apps and metrics you don’t need. Take advantage of those free trials to make sure these tools can actually become part of your work flow and not just another subscription to pay for.

Pick the tools you need and let them do the grunt work, so you can focus on the parts of your job that can’t be automated.

Why Hummingbirds Would Make Killer Entrepreneurs

Why Hummingbirds Would Make Killer Entrepreneurs

I almost collided with a hummingbird on my morning jog.

I froze in my tracks, the pointy beak inches from my eyeballs. The bird’s body floated perfectly still, while its wings flapped a hundred times per second. We made eye contact for just a split second before it fluttered away.

I had a realization that I knew everyone would call crazy:

Hummingbirds and entrepreneurs aren’t so different.

From their relentless speed to their lean build, they could probably teach all CEOs and business leaders a thing or two about running a company.

Here are some lessons I learned about entrepreneurship from hummingbirds:

Fly hard and focus

Hummingbirds can flap their wings up to 200 times per second. This intense effort allows them to hover in mid-air as no other bird can and achieve speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.

While it looks like all the effort is in the wings, they are engaging every single muscle in their body to maintain their flight. Their speed and agility are supported by a solid, unwavering core.

What everyone can see — your marketing, your client-facing work — doesn’t exist in a vacuum. To juggle all of the incredible external work, you have to maintain a strong internal vision. Know your goals and pursue them relentlessly. Don’t let yourself chase every glittery thing you stumble upon.

The work you do is only as good as the foundation you rest it upon.

Forge a new flight path

Unlike most birds which rely on an up-and-down motion to achieve flight, hummingbirds move their wings forwards and backwards in a figure eight pattern. This is how they can hover, fly backwards, and even do somersaults — all marvels that no other bird can manage. It seems like hummingbirds took a page from the dragonfly’s book, as their flight is a unique hybrid of insect and bird mechanics.

Why the special flight style? After all, a regular up-and-down motion works for every other bird.

The ability to hover means hummingbirds can drink nectar from any plant they find, not just those close enough to a ledge they can sit on. This maximizes their odds of finding food and allows them to take advantage of more food sources than other birds.

All that to say: you can’t reach your goals if you follow the crowd.

If you want to capitalize on opportunities that others missed, you have to find new approaches. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take note of what everyone else is doing — after all, hummingbirds do fly in a way similar to bugs — but you shouldn’t do anything just because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”

Think critically. Use what works and discard the rest.

Trim the fat

Hummingbirds can’t walk — they can only land and scoot a bit in either direction. Their small feet reduce drag, optimizing their bodies for flight.

They also sport hollow bones and fused vertebrae, keeping them as light as possible without sacrificing protection.

Hummingbirds replace all that lost mass in their pecs — more than 25% of their body weight is devoted to those muscles. Why?

Those are the muscles that move their wings.

Hummingbirds have one goal: Flight. Everything about their body, from their bones to their enlarged heart, is designed with that goal in mind.

If it doesn’t help them fly, they cut it.

Set your eye on the prize. Decide what your company does well, and devote every muscle in your body to becoming the best. Don’t add in anything — services, products, team members — that doesn’t move you towards that goal.

You give what you take

Because their flight requires so much energy, hummingbirds feed five to eight times per hour and must consume over half of their body weight in sugar.

A hummingbird that isn’t constantly consuming?

Dies.

To get all of the nutrients they need, they seek out a diverse mix of food sources — everything from sweet nectar to crunchy bugs.

No, I’m not asking you to eat bugs.

As an entrepreneur, you’re only as good as the sources you’re consuming. Are you always reading about your industry and keeping up-to-date with the latest innovations? Do you turn on a motivational podcast to start your day? When you pick up a book, does it help you become a better leader?

It’s easy to fall into the trap that you always need to be creating — that any minute spent not talking to clients, leading your staff, and selling your products is a minute wasted.

But how do you plan to get those clients if you never read about what others have done?

How do you know the best way to lead your staff if you never listen to other leaders?

Can you sell your products if you don’t know the industry?

What you bring in is what you put out.

The sources you consume are the fuel that feeds your business. Never stop learning and striving to improve.

Takeaways

A huge part of entrepreneurship is looking to unconventional sources and methods to make your business grow.

The hummingbird comparison might seem silly, but the lessons you can glean from it are universal.

So the next time you’re taking a morning jog–

Keep your eyes peeled.

You might just find the greatest entrepreneur hiding right beneath your nose.

(Source: https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-hummingbirds-387106)

How to found a multimillion-dollar agency in less than a year

How to found a multimillion-dollar agency in less than a year

Step 1: Quit job

Before you put in your notice, know what you’re getting into. To build a business, you need to be prepared to put everything on the line. And don’t expect immediate success: if you don’t have a proven product or a plan, then you’re not ready to quit your job. You’ll be stuck with a half-baked idea and no money in your wallet.

While entrepreneurship is awesome, there is nothing wrong with working to pays the bills.

Step 2: Convince another fool to join you

Co-founder fit is key. Be sure to talk about core values and long-term vision from the beginning — ideally before you start your company!

If you have any doubts, trust you gut. Don’t get discouraged if you find it’s not working. Remember why you got started, and take the time to stay aligned as you continue to grow.

Thinking about going in alone? Don’t. Solopreneurs rarely succeed. When 9/10 startups fail, you don’t want to lower your odds by trying on your own.


Step 3: Rent an office you can’t afford

It might not work for you, but I liked the pressure. It forced me to make sales, which was vital in the beginning.

If you don’t want to go for an office — or think that the lack of a formal space is holding you back — remember that plenty of businesses have started in homes and dorm rooms.

Step 4: Lose all your money in the first month

You’re going to make mistakes, but don’t let that hold you back. Use your struggles as blocks to build on. Failure is the only way to learn what not to do when you’re starting out.

It all comes down to sales. If you’re bootstrapped, it’s your lifeblood. If you’re funded, you better get profitable before it dries up.

Those are the pressures that should fuel you.


Step 5: Realize none of your friends care

“This time it’ll work!”

“Yeah, right,” your friends and family will say. “The last five have failed. Why is this any different?”

Set out to prove them wrong.

When all else fails, that just might keep you going.


Step 6: Get your accounts hacked by a previous coworker

Even when you try to do your best by everyone, they might not reciprocate. Former bosses, coworkers, and competitors may come after you, and you have to react cautiously without ever wavering on your core values.

You’ll be the last one standing if you do the right thing.

Keep your passwords secure and use two-factor authentication. Don’t risk it.


Step 7: Land one client that barely covers rent

Once we had enough to pay ourselves minimum wage and cover rent, we were free to blow this up as big as possible.

Eventually, something will work.

When it does, double-down hard.


Step 8: Keep paying yourself nothing

My co-founder and I were the lowest paid employees at the company for the entire first year.

We knew that money in our pockets did nothing for the company.

Don’t be greedy. Sacrificing money now will pay off later.


Step 9: Make sure to drink all the free beer in the coworking space to survive

Cowork spaces are great when you’re on a budget. Keep in mind, however, that it’s easy to lose hours of your workday to conversations with people passing by — and you don’t have time for that while you’re building your business.

Most importantly, remember: you’re paying for it. Take advantage of everything, including all the free beer you can (safely) drink.  



Step 10: Turn the client into a believer who refers two more clients

Go above and beyond from day one. Give your clients a killer experience so they’ll do your marketing for you.

Make sure you have the portfolio to back those referrals. You need real results and case studies to close the sale.



Step 11: Hire your first paid intern

For the first three months, my co-founder managed our memberships and it was on me to do the client work.

We couldn’t keep pace with the work we were getting. Finally we hired our first employee, Hendry Sukir. He helped me follow up to leads, make proposals, and close new deals in the critical early days. Now, he’s our Head of Growth Hacking at BAMF Media.

Who should you look for?

  • Recent college grads. They’re willing to hustle to prove themselves.
  • People with technical and execution experience. Especially for your first few hires, you need people who are versatile.
  • People with the founder mindset. If you want to instill growth as a value, you have to build it from the ground-up. Don’t hire anyone whose vision doesn’t match yours — build the core team from day one.

Step 12: Change everything about the business

In the first two months, our agency made no money because our first client paid us a month late.

Fortunately, we had a membership program that helped us bootstrap while we worked on finding more agency clients.

Your business is not static — especially early on. Take risks. Make changes. Find the path that fits your vision and pushes you forward.

If you’re short on money, look to unconventional ways to fill the gap. Never rule anything out just because it wasn’t in the plans.

Step 13: Something works out

Within 3 months, we had 8 clients. That’s how we knew we were onto something.

This wouldn’t be another failed start.


Step 14: Double down on it


Don’t fix what isn’t broken. Once something works out, stick to it and improve upon it.


Step 15: Profit

Striking out on your own is terrifying. No stability. No certainty. No promises.

But entrepreneurship can be the greatest experience of your life if you’re prepared to take it on.

The path isn’t easy, but to build your own legacy?

I’d say it’s worth it.

What does a growth hacking agency do?

What does a growth hacking agency do?

Ask a traditional marketer what growth hacking is.

You’ll get everything from “it’s just a Silicon Valley buzzword” to “they probably hack websites.” No surprise there: the phrase has only been around since entrepreneur Sean Ellis coined it in 2010.

But growth hacking is the future of marketing. Companies no longer want the vague notion of “brand” or the incalculable number of “impressions” a roadside billboard got them.

They want numbers. They want the tangible.

So how are growth hackers changing the game?

What is a Growth Hacker?

Let’s take it from marketer and author of Growth Hacker Marketing, Ryan Holiday:

“A growth hacker is someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable.”

Growth hackers don’t play the guessing game of traditional marketing. We look at the metrics. We test thoroughly. We alter, add, and cut marketing tactics to maximize ROI.

We’re asking ourselves:

How can we make this product grow itself?

Growth hackers are looking at low-cost, high ROI marketing techniques.

A big problem with growth hacking, however, is that growth hacks get stale pretty quickly. I could hand you a list of the “best growth hacks” and by the time you implemented them, they’d be old news.

So the best growth hackers aren’t just able to execute the same process repeatedly.

We cultivate a mindset of growth hacking.

We’re outside-the-box thinkers. We’re risk-takers. We’re innovators.

We evaluate the audience and the product to find the most targeted way to get their attention — even if that method is incredibly non-traditional.

That might mean a poorly-filmed video filled with inside jokes (as Dropbox did) or offering to deliver barbeque food to large conferences (like Uber did).

Because the goal isn’t to “spread the word” about your product.

It’s to close the sale. Get the signup. Win the customer.

Growth hackers will latch on to any strategy, technique, or method to achieve their only goal:

Measurable growth.

So what does the Growth Hacking Agency do?

Number 1: We’re creative problem-solvers

Think of growth hacking as a method of approaching an issue.

A growth hacking agency looks at every possible medium to promote a client. Their goal is to target a very specific audience, and to do that, they’ll use any tool at their disposal.

Nothing is off-limits. Even the weirdest, most ridiculous ideas can see some killer results.

Number 2: We push for fast results

As opposed to traditional marketers, growth hackers aren’t interested in establishing a brand over a span of years.

Growth hackers are looking for measurable results in days, weeks, and months.

Remember: Growth hacking began with startups that didn’t have the money for traditional marketing. These weren’t companies that had years to wait for “brand awareness” to get them sales.

They needed customers now, and they needed them cheap.

Growth hacker strategy relies on being light on their feet — they’re ready to pivot their plan at a moment’s notice to take advantage of new opportunities or abandon campaigns that aren’t showing results.

Number 3: We’re tech-savvy

The first growth hackers were coders at heart.

Their marketing approach is data-driven and tech-driven. Growth hacking agencies market almost exclusively online, with everything from social media and SEO to videos and video game design. This online focus allows them to pull extremely precise data to guide their work.

Whether a growth hack succeeds or fails is no guessing game. They can look at the data in real time and adjust to maximize ROI.

Number 4: We create compelling content

The biggest part of growth marketing?

The content.

Whether on traditional blogs or newer mediums such as podcasts, growth hackers are heavily invested in creating content that sells.

Their work is search engine optimized, algorithmically tested, and targeted at the desired audience with unparalleled precision.

It’s the driving force of all of their campaigns.

Number 5: We boost your business

While the methods might be novel, growth hackers have the same goals as any other marketer:

Help businesses grow.

Our goal at BAMF is to connect our client with the people who would love their services. To get good products in the hands of the people who want them.

To generate leads, close sales, and build up businesses.

The Takeaways

Growth hackers aren’t just marketers with a fancy title.

We’re coders, creators, and innovators who market your business solely based on the data. No guessing games, no immeasurable ROI, no traditional marketing rulebook.

Every decision is tracked, tested, and improved upon to not just get eyes on your work, but to get conversions.

While every company requires a different set of growth hacks to maximize ROI, the goal remains the same:

Unstoppable, innovative, badass growth.

P.S. Want to see some of the best growth hacks BAMF has used to grow businesses? Download our growth hacking book here: THE BAMF BIBLE >>

People Are Staying On YouTube Longer. Here’s How To Use That To Your Advantage

People Are Staying On YouTube Longer. Here’s How To Use That To Your Advantage

Big news for marketers: people are now spending more time on YouTube watching longer videos.

This is, in short, a great thing.

Though it’s true that companies know longer videos rank better and thus put more effort into building them, and though it’s true that YouTube has algorithms which favor longer videos, the more important takeaway here has to do with users.

People want real, actually valuable content instead of useless clickbait.

That’s important knowledge for marketers to have. Here’s how you can use it your advantage.

Provide users the sort of content they expect to find.

Here’s the truth: YouTube is an educational platform.

We now know that most YouTube visitors use the site to find something specific — not necessarily to discover.

They go there for tutorials and lessons, analysis and reaction.

Most users don’t go to YouTube looking for content from creators or brands they’ve never heard of before.

To some that might seem like a bad thing, but it actually explains why people are spending longer amounts of time on the site. They don’t go looking for a cheap laugh — they go to learn. And they’ll stick around with a video for a longer time if it delivers content which educates.

The more educational your content is, the better.

For this reason, don’t be afraid to double down on making your videos informative and detailed.

That means including lots of step-by-step tutorials — content that’s actually, purposefully designed to provide users with value and help them learn.

Yes, this means investing more money and time into your content. But it’s worth it. Ditch the cheap flash for the more strategically useful.

Ultimately, that will help you cultivate a loyal audience.

Making longer educational content is also great for SEO purposes.

It’s important to include that just as blog posts of longer text rank higher on Google than pieces with less text, longer videos also outperform shorter videos.

The average length of a first page YouTube video, for example, is 14 minutes, 50 seconds.

That’s the case for a reason.

Also, consider this: YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, trailing only Google. That about tells you everything you need to know.

Tap into YouTube for the cheaper ads.

While not paramount, this is still an important factor for marketers to consider: running ads on YouTube is much cheaper than running them on Instagram or Facebook.

While YouTube advertisers pay per ad view of their ad, the average cost-per-view is between $0.10 to $0.30.

That makes YouTube a remarkably affordable vehicle for boosting your web presence.

All in all, video is going to just keep growing, so marketers need to get onboard and learn to create videos which customers connect with emotionally.

Yes, advertising on YouTube is cheap. Yes, high-quality YouTube videos boast immense SEO value. But more importantly than that, video is simply a rapidly expanding medium. YouTube is the preferred home of literally billions of creators and fans across the world. In fact, creators (whom you might be able to work with) blow up more regularly on YouTube than they do on other platforms, like Instagram.

This is a trend that won’t fade any time soon. The potential to monetize via YouTube is unmatched. Marketers would be foolish to ignore it much longer.

The key for marketers in succeeding on YouTube, ultimately, is to pay attention to how users most enjoy utilizing the platform.

That starts with understanding why, exactly, people are spending more time on YouTube — and then giving them the sort of content they’re clamoring for.

3 Ways To Build A Community On LinkedIn

3 Ways To Build A Community On LinkedIn

Community is something all thought leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs need to be investing in. Without community, you’re an island — isolated in your effort to build wealth and influence.

That fact has been pretty well established by this point. What’s less well-known is the fact that there are many resources you can utilize in building a community.

One of the most important? LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a powerful mechanism for community growth because it helps you foster an intellectual authority presence. Readers look naturally at LinkedIn community leaders as power players — people who know what they’re talking about and have earned a certain respect.

LinkedIn can also:

  • Connect you with new contacts who might add value to your career by way of mentorship or support.
  • Help you remain relevant.
  • Solidify your intellectual presence in your industry or niche.

All of these things are critical. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly clear — at least to folks new to the platform — how exactly to use LinkedIn to accomplish any of this.

LinkedIn groups, for example, are effectively useless.

You’re better off directing your connections to a Facebook group if you want to utilize the more private group structure for communication and content sharing. That’s how bad LinkedIn’s version of groups are — yet they’re what we gravitate to first when we think of building community.

No, the best ways to build community on LinkedIn are not exactly intuitive. So here are the most valuable strategies you should focus on instead.

1) Using status updates as a way to connect your followers.

Most of us think of LinkedIn status updates as purely a means of engaging connections with content — which they are. But they can also be used to encourage action among your followers.

In fact, that should be your eminent goal. Your followers should be commenting on your posts, sharing them, and discussing within them how genuinely they relate to what you’re saying. That’s why updates which ask a simple question — “Hey everyone, how do you motivate yourself on Monday? Tag someone you know who always comes ready to bring it at the beginning of the week” — work really well.

Consider how you operate inside of groups on Facebook. How you engage with other members inside the group, asking for advice and communicating with folks directly.

Do that in your status updates on LinkedIn, and you’ll generate the sort of energy and engagement around both your content and your presence that will elevate your reputation in the eyes of community members.

2) Keeping a very curated list of who you connect with.

This second piece may seem surprising: most people on LinkedIn think of their connections as a list strictly to be grown as opposed to curated.

The amount of connections you have is evidence of your influence — right?

Wrong. It’s a mistake to try and connect with as many people as possible. Instead, be purposeful with the people you forge online relationships with. Only seek out new connections whom you can learn from, or whom you think might benefit from the content you have to share — people whom you think might be interested in your clear, specific value-add.

Sure, operating in this way might lose you followers. But it will  gain you customers and colleagues.

3) Creating a LinkedIn messaging pod where people can connect directly and privately to strategize.

LinkedIn messaging or engagement pods are groups you create on Slack or Facebook consisting of LinkedIn contacts. You can use them to give your posts or articles an immediate boost.

Here’s what you do: Immediately after publishing something new on LinkedIn, share it in your messaging pod, and ask everyone to go engage with it or share it.

This is a remarkably effective way to bolster your posts and updates to ensure they don’t fade to irrelevance, getting buried beneath everyone else’s articles. But it only works if your group is purposeful about what folks are allowed to share. In the various pods that I run with my teams and clients at BAMF, we impose strict barriers to entry to ensure all the content we promote is something we’re comfortable co-signing.

It helps, to this end — do you notice a theme here? — to focus eminently on adding value.

Always, always, always — in your pods, through your status updates, in engaging with your connections — seek to provide unique value.

That’s what will cement your reputation as someone people need to know on LinkedIn — which will, of course, help you build a more formidable community.

And that, for most of us, is the ultimate goal of using LinkedIn, right?

If it’s not yet… well, consider this your call to action.

 

 

Richard Branson Is Launching A New Music Festival. Here’s Why That’s A Genius Marketing Move

Richard Branson Is Launching A New Music Festival. Here’s Why That’s A Genius Marketing Move

Last month, Richard Branson — CEO, mogul, and billionaire — announced that he will be launching a new venture: a two-day music festival to be held in the United States.

It’s a brilliant move.

Virgin Fest will be more than just a money-making machine (250,000 people are expected to attend). It will double as a marketing tactic for Branson’s brand, which is the real thing of value here — building love and loyalty for your company’s character and identity.

I predict that’s where this move is going to really pay off.

Virgin Fest will engage potential customers and users through a channel and experience they already love.

A core challenge for marketers today is staying relevant in this swiftly changing economic climate. They have to constantly rethink their outreach strategies and content creation style to accommodate the channels and mechanisms through which people consume content and spend their time.

And that’s why Branson’s move is so smart.

Music festivals are a primary place users are spending their time and energy. And they’ve exploded in popularity over the last dozen years.

There are for a few reasons for this:

  1. They’re a more exciting mode of engaging in communal, quasi-spiritual activity, which young people still want, just not necessarily from organized religion.
  2. They double as cultural events which, if attended, double as something of an accomplishment or badge of honor.
  3. They encourage individuality and creative expression.
  4. They’re just really fun.

Branson, evidently, understands all that. He sees why young people love music festivals and has properly identified these events as a key means of connecting with them.

In other words, by launching Virgin Fest, Branson is optimizing his brand’s content to reach users where he’s most likely to connect with them.

People are investing more than we think in communal experiences.

For the last few years, marketing gospel has been focused on connecting with users online through Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, since that’s where customers are spending their time.

But the truth is, the online experience, in many ways, has become oversaturated. And people still crave something that online engagement doesn’t really provide: connection.

In fact, users don’t just desire connection — they invest in it. Heavily.

Example A: music festivals.

By creating his own, Branson is showcasing that he understands something that’s integral to successful marketing:

To build a brand, you must build community.

This is something other marketers have seemingly been late to internalize.

When people associate a brand with a community they love being a part of, that engenders loyalty. That’s one of the key reasons Salesforce puts on their massive Dreamforce conference every year in San Francisco. And it’s why creating your own music festival, which will give people something to talk about, look forward to, and found traditions upon, is such a genius idea.

You just have to pull it off.

And whether Branson does, of course, remains to be seen.

Ultimately, the key will be not over-commercializing Virgin Fest with third-party advertisers. That’s one reason attendance has declined for many large festivals over the last few years. People go to festivals for community, religion, fun, and, of course, great art — not to be sold to.

But so long as Branson doesn’t corrupt the experience of attending his festival with gratuitous, in-your-face corporate advertising, I’m confident the venture will be a massive success.

And for his brand, in particular, it should prove a boon.

 

Mailchimp Outgrew Its Name. Here’s What Marketers Should Take Away From Its Rebranding

Mailchimp Outgrew Its Name. Here’s What Marketers Should Take Away From Its Rebranding

Mailchimp’s story, on the surface, seems sort of miraculous.

Launched back in 2001, Mailchimp has grown into an email marketing behemoth. In 2016, it added nearly four million new users — increasing its total user base from 12 million to 16 million. In 2017, it posted more than $525 million in revenue, an especially remarkable number when you consider that founders Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius reached it without ever raising venture capital.

But Kurzius and Chestnut’s success doesn’t stem from divine intervention.

Rather, it’s a product of strong leadership and innovative thinking, exemplified by Mailchimp’s decision back in 2017 to expand its product offerings — including stripped-down web pages and a platform that puts a small-business spin on traditional enterprise-sales software systems.

But that’s not all they did. They also accompanied this expansion with a rebranding overhaul, which reimagined Mailchimp’s logo and name to better accommodate its size and utility. And it’s this decision which, at least on the marketing side, was truly brilliant.

Here’s what marketers should strive to take away from it.

1) Rebranding is a key mechanism you can employ in taking your company to that “next level” — like from consumer to enterprise.

Mailchimp was known originally as purely a small business email marketing platform. But they’ve now grown into something more wide-reaching than that — something with greater potential reach. Because of that, they no longer want to be known as strictly a small business email marketing platform, but rather a more dynamic marketing solution with benefits for both small businesses and enterprise customers alike.

The question Chestnut and Kurzius had to answer in considering how to make that transition, then, was: how do we articulate and amplify the fact that they we’re expanding in this way?

The answer? Rebranding.

As we’ve seen, Mailchimp’s rebranding efforts doubled as a way to communicate their elevated services in a way that drew attention. It’s easier to go from consumer to enterprise than the other way around — as a large consumer business, you have millions of customers already familiar with your brand, but as an enterprise company, you might only have 30 or so customers, and therefore less brand recognition — but still, you need to make it known to the enterprise world that you’re serious about what you’re doing.

Judging by the ad spots Mailchimp landed in places like The New Yorker — and the partnerships they solidified with companies like Facebook — it’s safe to say they succeeded.

For marketers, know that rebranding is more than a means of communicating something new. It’s also about getting attention.

2) Whenever you hit your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), it’s time to set a new one.

In 1994, author Jim Collins wrote about how continually setting, pursuing, completing, and then resetting big, audacious goals was paramount to actualizing regular success.

Key to that process is the resetting piece: once you achieve a big goal, you have to go about achieving something similarly monumental.

That’s exactly what Mailchimp is doing in setting out to be an enterprise automation solution.

It’s a matter of staying relevant and competitive. Companies without big audacious goals become complacent and stagnate.

That goes for marketing departments, too.

3) It pays to start small.

One thing that deserves mention here: the changes Mailchimp made to its brand are by no means astronomical. All they did foundationally is change their logo and adjust their name from “MailChimp” to “Mailchimp.”

Although this might not seem like big enough a change to reflect anything as influential as a pivot from consumer to enterprise sales, consider that the first thing Mailchimp needed to do here was signal that a change had taken place — and that they were serious about making it. To do that, you need the adjustment to be fundamental — as the change in title and logo proved to be.

In fact, any change more noticeable than that runs the risk of being jarring to customers and rendering you unrecognizable.

4) Rebranding after many years of continuity breeds excitement.

Mailchimp has been around for 17 years — and since their rise to prominence, this is their first significant rebranding move.

I believe that’s one key reason their rebranding efforts have received so much attention. It was remarkable because it was unprecedented — monumental, even, at least in the context of the company’s history.

If you’re a marketer, that should show you something: if your company is of semi-significant size and stature, know that rebranding is a sort of one-time lightning rod which, if thrown correctly, can really reinvigorate excitement about your products.

At the end of the day, what Mailchimp really needed to do in changing its logo and name was update the market of its new ambitions.

That was the key goal. Attention for attention’s sake is valuable, but drawing attention to something you need for potential customers to know about is critical. If potential enterprise companies didn’t know that Mailchimp now offered enterprise solutions, after all, they’d be less likely to take Mailchimp’s sales team seriously when they hopped on the phone with them.

Ultimately, that Mailchimp understood this — that they knew rebranding was a key tactic they could employ in coincidence with expanding their product expansions — exemplifies the sort of smart marketing they’ve long practiced as a company.

There’s nothing miraculous about that.

 

 

How Athletes Have Removed The Middle Man To Build Their Own Brands — And What The Rest Of Us Can Learn From It

How Athletes Have Removed The Middle Man To Build Their Own Brands — And What The Rest Of Us Can Learn From It

Athletes have long been the face of brands.

In fact, they’ve long been more than that — they’ve been the soul of brands.

Think about it. Athletes, for example, don’t just represent brands. They epitomize them. Nike doesn’t sell shoes. Nike empowers athletes like Colin Kaepernick.

Now, companies like Nike brand by way of athletes because it’s a smart marketing tactic.

Influencers are more effective as branding tools than products are. When people see an ad of their favorite celebrity, they feel less like they’re being sold to than they do when they’re watching an ad of a computer or a car.

This has been true for a long time. But something about the paradigm has shifted in recent years, and it’s given the former faces and souls of brands a new power of independence.

Athletes are now removing the middleman to create their own brands.

Which is to say, athletes are utilizing their influence to create their own companies.

Consider, for example, LeBron James.

James, for most of his career, followed the typical superstar athlete business playbook: he generated wealth through multi-year endorsement deals and licensing agreements.

These arrangements win him short-term earnings. But most stop generating money when the deal expires.

James recognized this. Because roughly five years ago, he began to eschew these more typical endorsement deals in favor of something more valuable in the long-term: partnerships.

James now offers access to his brand and his influence in exchange for an equity stake in the venture. That’s what he did with:

In essence, James has used his personal brand to integrate himself deeper into better business opportunities.

No longer is James merely a tool to be utilized by other corporations. Now he’s in control.

And of course, he’s not the only athlete to do this. Every day, more examples emerge.

And those are all older heads. Imagine what younger athletes and celebrities with massive (and growing) social media followings will be able to do once they hit their prime.

So, what can the rest of us learn from these superstars?

Now, the journey of LeBron from celebrated athlete spokesperson to sole determiner of his brand is inspiring, but it’s also more than that. For the rest of us — from people like me who run their own business, to those just trying to understand where our digital society is headed — there’s wisdom to be gleaned from these stories.

Namely: brands are most powerful when they represent dynamic people — not products.

LeBron’s brand, after all, is what powered Blaze Pizza to unprecedented growth. It wasn’t their pizza. It was their association with LeBron.

Bottom line: customers connect with brands that represent the kind of people they want to become.

As it happens, that’s what companies like Nike have long understood. They’ve known that the young kid who wears Nike cleats is doing so because she wants to be like her favorite soccer player. They know that young football players who wear Nike armbands and socks are doing so not because they think Nike itself is cool, but because they want to be bold and powerful and brave — like Colin Kaepernick.

If you, like me, are in the process of building a brand today, think people first, and product second.