You don’t just want to be a startup.
You want to be one of those kinds of startups — the ones experts suggest will become the next big thing in their industry, the ones whose every move gets covered in the media and whose name becomes almost synonymous with “innovation.”
These are all examples of what generating the right kind of attention or “buzz” can do.
Buzz isn’t something you seek out to feel a sense of validation for your idea, or to somehow fool people into thinking your startup is something it’s not.
You want buzz because, when you generate the right kind, it can translate into things that help your startup grow.
Good buzz can attract the attention of venture capitalists or other entities that may want to offer you financial support for your startup.
Good buzz can get influencers in the media to review your products and services.
Good buzz may also help customers who would otherwise be reluctant to buy from a new company to try you out.
Another way to describe buzz might be public relations or word-of-mouth, which are a little different than other forms of marketing.
With more traditional approaches like advertising, you can use specific tools to target specific audiences, manage your campaign and continue to optimize based on what the analytics tell you.
Buzz tends to be more organic and tactical, where you look for opportunities and work quickly to capitalize on them.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be strategic. Use some of the ideas that follow after launching your startup and just make sure you earmark some time in your schedule to pursue one of them a week, or even once a month.
Eventually you’ll start generating buzz, and in time you may find others are buzzing without you having to prompt them.
Your digital presence is your calling card, but that doesn’t mean it has to look exactly like all other calling cards.
Instead, think carefully about the customer experience you’re aiming to provide and be creative in using words and imagery to guide website visitors through it.
This isn’t just a matter of design, but also content. You might include details on your site that few in your sector have included before (like pricing), or have content marketing assets — videos, infographics or eBooks — that generate buzz because of the stories they tell.
You may have developed your products and services to the point where you don’t really need to demonstrate your team’s programming capabilities, but participating in a hackathon or similar contest could still be worth it.
Hackathons, elevator pitch-offs and business case competitions can attract a wide audience, and winning may get your startup profiled in the media, along with the opportunity to speak at an event.
Best of all, you’re showing your startup has great skills and expertise that bolster your reputation.
It goes without saying that you’ll want to set up social media accounts on platforms to push out product and service news, as well as offer a customer service channel. That’s not the only way to gain traction from social media, however.
Use social media to take a stand on an issue that speaks to your (and your target customers’) sense of purpose. Make a bold prediction that others would shy away from. Help sum up an argument or articulate an idea that others wish they’d said first.
Social media also gives you many different ways to communicate your message, whether it’s posting pictures on Instagram, hosting a live event on Facebook or even showing off your positive culture by dancing on TikTok. Also look for social media events to join an existing conversation, like a Twitter chat.
It’s natural to want to post your best content on your own properties, but it might take time before they get the traffic and engagement of other sites.
Many online publications, industry associations and even non-competitive companies are open to guest blog posts from people with helpful advice or insightful reflections on industry trends. This usually involves writing a short pitch of what you propose to write via email, then working through any revisions and feedback.
Besides the positive buzz you get from guest posts, you can improve your own site’s SEO if you’re posting on a site with a high domain authority and they allow you to link back.
While a lot of the traditional conference and event circuit may require sponsorship to attain a speaking slot, there are also many events that want to amplify the voice of emerging startups.
Many of these opportunities are online right now, which makes it even easier to participate because you don’t necessarily have to travel. Much like guest posting, this can begin by answering a call for speakers from a virtual event organizer. Make sure your idea aligns with their theme, and perhaps offers a provocative take that hasn’t already been heard before.
In some cases you may not be able to (or want to) lead a session, but there are often panel discussions that can be just as good for generating buzz. Also look to larger vendor partners you work with, who may already run virtual events and are open to having their partners come on as speakers.
Your priority should always be on getting paying customers through the door, but successful startups often make time to assist charities and nonprofits who might never have the budget to make use of their services.
Working on a worthy cause with a like-minded organization can not only generate buzz, but can be deeply rewarding for your team and help enhance the employee experience.
As you were developing your startup, you might have wanted to learn from a proven entrepreneur, and sometimes the only way to access their ideas is by reading a book they’ve written.
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to wait to become a billionaire startup CEO to write a book.
If you have an interesting story about your journey as an entrepreneur, an unusual approach to business leadership or even an analysis of your market that aligns with your business strategy, there could be an audience who wants to hear more.
A good book can become a major platform for buzz-building because it can get reviewed by newspapers, featured on TV talk shows or become an entree into keynote speaking slots.
Buzz rarely happens on its own, or overnight, but when you generate it, you start to learn a lot about how you’re perceived and how you’ll want to shape those perceptions. And that buzz will only get louder as your startup continues to grow.