You’re not normal if you don’t have the fear that as a start-up, small business or micro business you face insurmountable odds and are very much David facing not one, but many Goliaths in the marketplace.
You can win
Several facts will underscore this anxiety. Firstly your brand is unknown to the market. Bigger established companies have a powerful brand presence with the benefits that flow from that. Their brands are front of mind and in what marketers call the perceived set of possibilities in a purchasing decision. Yours is probably not even on the radar for potential customers. More importantly, the big established companies and their brands have networks of influencers validating their products and services. If thought leaders are talking about them well, they have to be great right? So thinks the market. Crucially the big companies have ongoing conversations with customers that keep their brands front of mind and evergreen. This is important because journalists are constantly looking to the market for a steer on what is really going on. Brands with social media market engagement are seen by the media as alive and fulfilling market interests. This is even bigger proof than any press releases the companies send that they are the real mack daddies to follow and support.
Next you will realise that while you’re wearing five hats as a start-up, doubling up on tasks, and working long hours, the big competitors have two or more people to wear each hat. To add insult to injury they probably knock off at 5pm and get home on time. They don’t have to pull the all-nighters you get accustomed to pulling just to stay up-to-date. Not only are you cash-poor, you are also time-poor, which is every bit as restricting as the absence of operating capital. In brief, you are David facing the giant Goliath. But all is not lost. You have the biggest weapon of all and it’s as powerful as deploying nuclear weapons on the battle field. Market “nukes” have no respect for size, past reputations or numerical power. They are the ultimate leveller and the nuke for a small business is the power of the market and its inner relationships delivered via social media.
Identify the news trends or news agenda
The market has news trends or news agendas. Think of it as a current or wave of news. They affect everyone big or small in the same way. Moreover those currents favour those who know how to sail them or surf them and are no respecter of size. If you hit the news trend it will carry you to visibility in the media and help you initiate those customer links and engagements you need. The first step to beating Goliath as David is to know what is trending in news and which way the current is flowing. This has nothing to do with your size.
Select your candidate or target media
The second trick to beating Goliath is identifying what ships you will sail in on this current of news. You have to decide which media (print, online, broadcast, consumer, trade) suits your cargo. You don’t want the attention of every medium. You want the attention of the media and journalists that are relevant to you and your chosen market. Decide which publications or platforms suit your brand, your ethos, the people you need to reach, and just as importantly, their tone of voice. Are you a Starbucks kind of company or are you one better suited by style and content to the exclusive coffee shop at the Michelin rated Langham’s hotel?
The third trick to beating Goliath is to engage with the media and the journalists you identify as important to you. Find out what their features are, when they are published, what their editorial deadlines are and which days you should absolutely never try to contact them on because they are on a production deadline. No medium or journalist is in the business of not being noticed. The greatest compliment you can offer them is to share, re-blog (with permissions), and comment constructively on their work. By engaging with them in this way you are helping them fulfil their mission and they know that however small you are, you are bringing a different audience to their party. When you engage with media you’re instantly noticed and that is the first step to getting on their radar. Making further contacts means you are no longer a stranger. Your chances of being relevant and interesting to them just expanded geometrically in their world. You have just taken the first three steps to neutralising Goliath.
Written By: Tetteh Kofi
Tet is Brand Ambassador for JournoLink, the online PR portal linking small businesses and startups to journalists, bloggers and broadcasters.