Everything you do before launching your business speaks for your company before anyone has even seen or heard of it. FGC’s fourth event of the year highlighted why you shouldn’t underestimate the finer nuances of perception, language or image. Here are some of the actionable tips and insights from the night on how to effectively communicate your vision to the outside world.
Anne-Marie Imafidon, Cofounder of Stemettes, an award winning social enterprise that encourages girls and women into science, tech, engineering and maths related careers.
Joanna Christie, Group Brand Director at Treatwell, the largest online booking marketplace for hair and beauty in Europe.
Sharmadean Reid, Founder of WAH London and FutureGirlCorp, platforms that empower women through style (former) and business (latter).
THE VERY BEGINNING
...I have this great idea, now what?!
RESEARCH! Have a look at what’s already out there and what you can easily find in relation to your business idea. Search on Google and throughout social media to see who is doing what on those platforms.
TEST THE WATERS & PUT IT OUT THERE! You can use a blog to help validate your business idea before launch, making sure it has a potential audience before investing your time and money into it.
“The first thing I put out was a blog…saying this is the problem and this is how in my opinion it needs to be solved.” - Anne Mare Imafidon, Stemettes.
THE FACE TO FACE STUFF
....Walk the walk and chat the chat!
MEET NEW PEOPLE! When introducing yourself to someone, say who you are and what you do in one snappy sentence. When talking about your business, give the name of the product or service, when it’s available, where it’s from and when it launches.
GO TO NETWORKING EVENTS! Sometimes it can feel daunting going up to people at events and throwing your ideas out there. To help, try asking a relevant question to the speakers but be one of the first people to do so. That way, it forces you to say who you are and what you’re doing first so people are more likely to remember you afterwards. Those who are interested in you and what you do will seek you out during the event. When approaching speakers at the end, have a question prepared. Pander to their egos and then they’ll usually ask you about yourself too.
DRESS THE PART! Be conscious of your audience and how what you’re wearing appeals to different people. You can mix and match to tick both the serious and personable boxes. Be able to talk the talk of corporates when needed, but also be conscious of the style of your target demographic because you'll need to show all parties that you’re relatable to your audience.
“I always am so aware when I go to meetings how I come across in my looks and style, primarily because that’s my industry." - Sharmadean Reid, WAH
THE ONLINE PART
...Emails, social media & everything in-between!
PICK YOUR DOMAIN! At prelaunch, make a gmail account for your new idea but when you fully launch, make sure to have your domain and social media handles all in tact. Be mindful that domains can be quite confusing, especially if your brand name is hard to spell. It’s also helpful to keep your domain and social media handles the same, so your audience can find you quickly and easily.
MANAGE SOCIAL MEDIA! Don’t be deterred if someone else is sitting on a name that you want but not doing anything with it, because there are ways to wrestle a handle off of them. Firstly, register your company and trademark the name. Then, contact the organisers of the platform to get ownership over the handle you require. Make a different handle in the meantime and change it once the one you want becomes available again. Ensure that all social avatars have the same picture across all platforms e.g. just make one social button of your logo. If your logo is a long name, simply initialise it.
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE! Live where your audience lives and talk to them in the same style of language.
GOOGLE YOURSELF! Look at your SEOs and social media platforms like Twitter. Be mindful of how you’re communicating information about business across the web.
“How you speak to all your different channels and different audiences is super important." - Sharmadean Reid, WAH.
THE NEXT STEPS
...Gathering your team, raising funds, writing press releases and creating a brand strategy!
THINK PROFILING! It’s important to start thinking about what an executive team looks like within your business. Profile the people that can take your company from founding to growth. Be clear on what kind of staff you want, investors you're seeking and the type of the influencers who will bring the masses but also suit your brand.
RAISE FUNDING! Identify a strategic investor and know why you want them. Show your knowledge of the investors you are interested in by choosing those who actually understand your industry.
“Look for angels or partners [rather than VCs]… who will be on your board long-term and you can pick up the phone to.” Joanna Christie, Treatwell.
Research more about those angels and independent investors who are investing in similar businesses, where you can learn from. Checkout Crunch Base, City AM and TechCrunch for more information. When it comes time to look at raising money for your company, get ready to prove yourself and your business idea e.g. that you’re a good founder, what your long term strategic plan is and how you are going to sustain this business.
WRITE A PRESS RELEASE! Make it short and snappy, no more than two paragraphs. Help the journalists out by already giving them the story - give them a fact and some stats that they can build an angle on. Make use of observations, trends and cultural references to help build a great story around your product or service.
“When talking to journalists…state what the problem is, state what your product is and then state how your product solves that problem." - Sharmadean Reid, WAH
KNOW YOUR BRAND! Get your brand pyramid together and really stress test everything within it.
- Vision & Higher Purpose = The Why
- Mission = The What
- Value Proposition = The How
- Brand Identity
- Company Values = What You Hold Dear (ask yourself, do the partners share the same values as me? This provides a good check list for who you want to work with and what you want to do).
CREATE A BRAND STRATEGY! Ask yourself, what are the 3 most important things that I need to get done in the next month that will really have an impact on my company? Keep focused on those 3 things and don’t go overboard with trying to do everything at once.
1. How do you balance being true to yourself but also appealing to your audience?
“If you find yourself changing too much and it doesn’t feel genuine, then you’re talking to the wrong kind of funders, investors or partners.”- Anne Marie Imafidon, Stemettes.
Just by believing in what you’re doing, you’ll be taken seriously. Your business is part of who you are so people should buy into it. Passion is attractive!
2. Partners and sponsors - how do you find them, how do you win them over?
“99% of our sponsors have come to us, rather than us coming to them” - Anne Marie Imafidon, Stemettes.
Build your tribe offline and online so that people who are interested in you will find you. They might be watching you over a long period of time and then when they are happy with your growth, get in contact with you to collaborate.
Put out into the universe what you want e.g. shout out on Instagram or Twitter that you’re hosting an event and looking for a volunteer or a sponsor. Then anyone interested can get in contact.
3. How do you ensure your brand is on point when you’re still testing it out?
“Remember why you’re doing it and trust your gut.” - Joanna Christie, Treatwell.
Be really clear on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Decide from beginning what you can and can’t be flexible on.
4. How to contact people and get noticed when they don’t know you?
“Think of scrappy ways to get infront of them.” -Joanna Christie, Treatwell.
Apply the same principles to finding a boyfriend - know everything about them, be where they are and be interested in the same subjects. Think outside the box, so instead of just sending a press release like everyone else, actually go down to the offices and give the receptionist your product, in hopes that it might get passed on to the bosses. Also, try creating partnerships with different people and use their PR team to support press of your business. You can then tap into their network that way.
5. Should you refer to your company as ‘we’ or ‘I”?
We is fine, even if it’s only really you. If anyone questions it, just say that all your users are part of your company ;).
6. Can you talk about your side hustle at work?
“You have to be ready for people who will be your cheerleaders and people who won’t be your cheerleaders.” - Anne Marie Imafidon, Stemettes.
Your side hustle might make you more valuable and more of an asset to the company but only talk to supportive people and avoid those who aren’t as supportive. Some bosses prefer honesty but if you know it would upset them, try to avoid burning bridges and navigate that relationship in a better way.
7. How do you repair or reignite a relationship you might a have missed out on?
“It’s about honesty but it’s also about what you can do to repair. I do Twitter shout outs. I’ll connect them to someone else that I know they want to be connected to. There are small things you can do, where you’re helping someone but in a genuine way.” - Anne Marie Imafidon, Stemettes.
Sometimes it’s OK to be honest and express that you’re struggling to keep up with everything going on for you at the moment, hence why you missed their email or haven't been in contact for a while. Do something nice, like invite them out for a drink or introduce them to someone that would be a beneficial connection to them.
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