Since official launch, we’ve enjoyed many successes. From getting the very first press release published on Bloomberg and seeing our story picked up by reputable Ukrainian media to landing mentions in dynamic engineering hubs and financial British blogs with relevant target audience. What’s next? We decided to take a closer look at million audience sites, where real investors along with professional advisers share knowledge in author columns, discuss industry news, exchange ideas and form new ties with other community activists. While we were busy doing it, several additional opportunities came our way. By setting aside everyday hustle for a couple of minutes and investing some of your time into reading this article, you will get a clear picture of what to do next after your startup has won initial publicity.
Step #1 – Go social
Reddit is one of the most popular news aggregators on the web. It steadily attracts billions of visitors who are also active contributors. Interactive nature of the website allows PR pros not only to study trends, but to capitalize on them. Each shared news thread has certain rating. You can submit a link to the recent blog post and see whether it enjoys popularity or not. But please keep in mind: although it seems as easy as one-two-three, getting people to read your advertising materials instead of something truly interesting or beneficial for them is a tricky task.
If the post you shared didn’t work well (see voting results), change the tactics. Check out subsections “hot” and “rising” in the chosen subreddit. This will give you an understanding of what type of content redditors crave. Share several links of that kind from your account, it will help you earn credibility. You may also consider drafting a blog post on popular topic where your key brand messages are seamlessly integrated. Option 2 serves both purposes: gains you reputation + promotes your company. Go with it if you can write quickly, because tomorrow or in a week something else might be on Reddit’s agenda. I decided to try Option 1 and got amazing results. The news I shared in “Investing” subsection received over 600 upvotes, which is considerably more than a thread gets on average.
Although the piece has nothing to do with Zen Assets, it added a few points to my karma, making me a trustworthy member of the ever-growing Reddit community. This tried-and-true method will definitely work for you. Once reputation is earned, offer readers the best post from the corporate blog – chances are they would love it! I did it for Zen Assets and recorded an inflow of new hot leads to our website. Some people criticized the service, but objective feedback only allowed us to improve and move forward with a better proposition. In his book for aspiring entrepreneurs “The Mom Test” Rob Fitzpatrick warns startup founders that feedback regarding business ideas from relatives or close friends should be taken with a pinch of salt. No matter how painful or unpleasant it might be, he recommends to get honest assessments from relevant strangers, who will ultimately be your customers. Listen to what other people have to say and try to meet their expectations with your service or product.
Of course, Reddit is not the only news aggregator on the web. There are plenty of alternatives. If you love the idea of interacting with potential clients online, try Voat, Hubski or consider country-specific clones of Reddit: Wykop.pl (Polish), Meneame (Spanish), Pusha (Swedish). Sites like Quora allow you to literally go out there and set the trend. By answering just 3-4 relevant questions per day you will soon establish a reputation of an opinion shaper in your industry. Although Quora demands informative high-quality answers, it will not ban you from the site for sharing links to corporate content. When addressing questions, try to be as helpful, knowledgeable and unbiased as possible. Offer links to different sites, including your competitors’ – this way nobody will accuse you of blunt promotion or spam. Mention company’s name without providing a direct hyperlink to the website – show moderators you are not here for traffic. If people get interested, they’ll explore your site anyways!
Quora worked very well for Zen Assets. According to Google Analytics (please see below), it is the third most effective channel. Besides, comments on Quora had a very positive impact on both organic and direct traffic.
Step #2 – Aim for giants
When you think of “media giants” in finance, what names come to mind first? The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, probably The Economist? While these respectable outlets exude authority and are read by the world’s biggest investors, they are not the only ones to offer excellent promotional opportunities. If you carefully study modern media landscape, you’ll notice that even in conservative spheres like investment news hubs are gaining more and more traction. Their democratic nature allows financiers from across the globe to share opinion pieces on actual topics with the high-caliber investor community. I discovered at least two influential websites of such kind: Seeking Alpha and The Street. The first one has an audience of 17 million people, the second is regularly read by 9 mln. Average visit on Seeking Alpha lasts more than half an hour. This means that the level of readers’ engagement and their trust to the source are very high.
Yet, it proved a real challenge for us to get there. Seeking Alpha is accepting scientific, data-based articles of exceptional quality and depth. Our financial copywriter couldn’t create a suitable piece due to the lack of necessary technical knowledge. So I started looking for investment advisors with solid academic background on freelance sites. Luckily, I found a great specialist who does two things in life: a) consults wealthy clients on how to save and increase their fortune; b) describes his experience in the personal blog. Having a natural knack for writing as well as a deep understanding of current investment trends, he drafted an excellent entry which was published on Seeking Alpha, winning Zen Assets a super important brand mention.
Even if your startup has nothing to do with finance, the idea is pretty clear: don’t limit yourself to traditional media. Some of the news hubs are so popular, they can easily compete with big outlets! Especially when it comes to attracting relevant audience. Seeking Alpha is an exclusive source for investors. They come here for advice, knowledge, new ideas. I’m sure some of them are looking for great financial consultants, others hope to find reliable business partners. On the contrary, Financial Times is read by anyone from a regular office employee to a big CEO of non-governmental organization, who prefers to keep savings on a bank account and has never thought of investing. As a startup, you probably don’t have a billion dollar budget to win individuals from all walks of life to your way of thinking – try to reach people who can appreciate the benefits you offer, with every promotional effort.
Some of you may ask: how do I get published on sites like Seeking Alpha? Technically the process is quite simple. Look out for special “Submit an article” button on the main page, and then follow required procedure. I created an author page for Sergey, where details like working experience, formal education and previous publications were specified. While it’s prohibited to promote your company directly in the text, brief author profile with the name of it and the link to site will appear each time your article is posted. After editors review and approve your candidacy feel free to send them the content.
Step #3 – Help reporters & researchers out
Yes, yes, you got it right! If all steps presented in the “Climbing up the media ladder” series are implemented, you will start receiving requests from journalists, analysts and even book authors. We have reached this point with Zen Assets.
Stephen Wall, an analyst covering global wealth management sector for the US-headquartered research and advisory firm Aite Group, asked us to help him prepare a profile of Zen Assets. He was putting together a report looking at 20+ European and Asian digital wealth management platforms, and what we were doing very clearly fit into that. It goes without saying: we were excited to submit all requested information to Stephen. Being included into the specialized report by Aite Group was a great opportunity for us as it meant international visibility and promised a generous inflow of new leads.
Soon after our initial conversation with Stephen he sent me the link: Digital Wealth Management: Europe’s and Asia’s Players Add Fuel to the Fire. Report was ready and we were included into it!
Two pages of fame in the “Online investment management” section – God bless professional analysts! Reports by Aite Group are not distributed for free, they are sold for US $4,000 each. This barrier ensures refined audience: presumably our company profile was viewed by investors interested in trustworthy tech-based solutions for money management (direct TA) and professional wealth advisers who monitor competitive landscape.
Brief description of our business model included visualization of investor’s personal cabinet and explanation of the corporate fee policy:
In one of my previous posts I introduced readers to an incredibly useful service for PR professionals – HARO. It provides you with a list of relevant queries from journalists, on a daily basis, completely free of charge. On average, I was responding to 5-6 requests per week. This persistent work eventually resulted in a very good opportunity for Zen Assets. Once while checking my e-mail I noticed a message from Andrew Hallam, former high school English teacher who became a debt-free millionaire. Andrew writes for his own financial blog and is the author of two popular books: “Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned at School” and “The Global Expatriate’s Guide to Investing”. He asked us whether British expatriates, who live in countries like Singapore, could use our services. After learning that they could, he sent us a list of questions and promised to profile Zen Assets in the updated versions of his books. Part of his letter is presented below:
Six months after official launch our company was mentioned by ETF Strategy, specialized media with a co.uk domain. In the article entitled “Robo-advisors on the march, says Deloitte” Zen Assets was described as a “start-up developing online wealth management solutions for the UK market”. This PR win serves as a living breathing proof of our content marketing efforts’ effectiveness. Obviously we were discovered by journalists on the web, and that didn’t happen by chance. Interesting, regularly updated corporate blog, constant activity on Quora and HARO, brand mentions in British finance blogs, commentaries on forums, submissions on Reddit, opinion pieces on million audience sites… All these instruments created the necessary buzz around Zen, prompting media to think of us at the right moment.
Dear Reader of “Climbing up the media ladder” series! As this is the last article of such kind in my blog, I wanted to wrap it up with a lyrical conclusion. First of all, let me express my sincere gratitude for your close attention to my work – it inspires me to write even more. In the frame of four lengthy pieces I tried to provide you with as many useful tips as possible. If you start with a tight budget (and this situation is pretty common among young companies), this doesn’t mean your project won’t get any attention from the public. It only means that you will have to work harder, apply smarter techniques and rely on your own self for a while to achieve results. I am not saying you can do everything alone. Keep looking for investors, ask PR agencies for some free advice, think of possible business partnerships.
I had a monthly budget of US $1.000 at my disposal. Could I hire a specialized PR agency to assist me? No. But… Could I pay for high quality articles, catchy infographics or placement in thematic directories? Definitely! This sum allowed us to experiment and gradually pave our own way to visibility. If my professional secrets help you move up the media ladder, kindly let me know – I would be over the moon! And please remember: in modern world people are more ad-resistant than ever, which makes your budget less important than your brain. Use intellectual potential to the fullest – and you’ll be rewarded!