Launching a startup in the UK can be an exhilarating experience, but building brand awareness and attracting customers is a whole different ballgame. That’s where public relations comes in. By effectively leveraging PR strategies, startups can gain valuable media exposure, enhance their credibility, and ultimately fuel their growth in a competitive market.
In this step-by-step guide, we will explore the essential elements of public relations for UK startups. If you’re ready to take your startup’s PR efforts to the next level, this guide is for you.
Hiring Your First Social Media Marketing Team
To say that the British are tech-savvy is an understatement. There are seven-year-olds who are routing iPhones, and there are 12yr olds that are building profitable apps. The fact is that there is a surprising amount of talent around if you are willing to take a few risks and hire unknown and under qualified people.
Hire a Small Team
Hire a small team of social media marketers and let them run their own campaigns under your direction. For example, you could have three social media marketers whose only job is to stimulate interest on social media. Each of them could have 10 branded accounts for Facebook, 10 for Twitter, 10 for Google+, and so forth. They produce content for each of their accounts and publish it every other day. The team also answers questions, shares, and promotes your services/products surreptitiously and overtly.
As you should know, their job is not to push your products, but to build social media profiles that draw people from your target audience in and earn you follows. They will then occasionally post promotional posts in between their regular content.
With time and a little training, your staff will learn how to stimulate interest organically. They do not need advanced marketing knowledge to learn how to create interesting profiles that attract people.
The point is that almost anyone can do this job. Since people spend more time on social media than ever before, finding someone to do this job would be easy. Additionally, if you find a social media diva/wizard who happens to bring in a lot of convertible traffic to your website, then you can increase that person’s wages to keep him/her.
Concentrate on a Single Brand Message
If you are going to push your products to a British public, then you will need to concentrate on a single marketing message. When people are on your website, you may start pushing your other unique selling points. However, almost all your off-page and offline marketing needs to concentrate on a single brand message/principle.
People in the UK will respond to messaging that is straight to the point. Kit Kat (the candy bar) sells well in the UK because it doesn’t promote its chocolate, its biscuit, its nutrition…their marketing team keeps it simple and says, “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat.” Tesco is one of the biggest supermarkets because “Every little helps.” Similarly, Carlsberg went the super-simple route of posting adverts with the slogan, “Probably the Best Beer in the World.”
Push a single selling point or a single brand ideal and the British public are more likely to remember you. When the British are in love with your product/service, you may start introducing your unique selling points so that they can spread the word to their friends and family.
Encourage Referrals from Your Customers
If you can set up some sort of reward system for customer referrals, then you may have a moderately inexpensive way of virally pushing your products and services to the British public. Simply offer an incentive for the person giving the referral and for the person receiving the referral.
For example, you can offer store credit for the person who gives the referral and offer a big chunky discount for the person receiving it. That way, you are encouraging your current customers to promote your business and to spend more money on your business. Moreover, you are encouraging new warm leads by temping them with large discounts.
First-time discounts are powerful in the UK because they lower the risk for the first-time buyer, which is a highly desirable thing to offer. People in the UK are less likely to fall for your charms since they want to test you first. If you give them an inexpensive way to test you, then they may come back for more. Having said that, do not try to sucker people in with free trials. This is because people in the UK are used to free trials where it is easy to get into but difficult to get out of. For this reason, this tactic will only make your target audience more wary of you.
In many cases, when people see the words “Free Trial,” they actually see a company trying to get their credit card information. Alternatively, they assume you are trying to fool them into getting an account that rolls over into a paid account. In short, first-time buyer discounts work, but free trials do not.
Focus on Building a Refined Strategy for Instagram
Instagram is a big deal in the United Kingdom. Facebook is still the most popular social network, but its demographic is mostly children and females. Instagram pulls in quite a number of British women too.
Remember – If Your Website can Do It Then So Can Your App
There is currently a trend in the UK where companies are trying to match all the features on their website with features on their app. Even multinational companies and banks are trying to make their apps as comprehensive as their websites. For example, HSBC is adding new features to its UK HSBC app every three months. They are even asking customers which features to add next. Though one shouldn’t be a slave to trends, common sense suggests that fully featured apps are not a passing fad. It is possible that your customers will start leaving you for your competition if your app doesn’t do the same things your website does.
Forget About Advanced SEO Unless Your Business Cannot Live Without It
Make sure you have all your basic on-page and off-page SEO (Search Engine Optimization) covered, but do not worry too much about ranking highly on Google to start with. Do not forget that the UK is a fairly small island, which means the number of businesses on Google is a fraction of what it is in the USA. If people Google your name, then your company will appear on the first page of the results unless your business has a very common name.
Google in the UK is very efficient when it comes to searching out businesses because there are far fewer businesses in the UK than there are in larger countries. You may have many competitors, but if you push/promote your brand and your company name rather than competing on a product-for-product level, then your SEO will be a breeze. Do not hire consultancies and/or your own SEO team unless ranking highly is vital to your success.
Let Them Do It Online
It doesn’t matter what your business is, what your service is, or what your product is. You must give your UK customers the ability to order online. The UK has embraced online commerce in a big way. People pay their bills online, they buy online, they order pizzas online, they order taxis online, and they can even order desserts online for when they have finished eating their dinner.
People in the UK can order a fan heater from a company called Argos and have it in their house by the same evening.
The British people are far less accustomed to calling companies on the phone in the UK. Where it may be common practice for US citizens to call the company if they want a plumber, to change their insurance, or to book a holiday, the British are far more keen on doing it all online.
Use Email Marketing, But Make Sure You Embrace the Law
You are allowed to email people if you have their permission to do so. If somebody buys something from you and gives you their email address, then you may email them to confirm a purchase and to confirm delivery dates. However, you are not allowed to put people in your email list for advertising purposes unless they confirm their consent. Recently, we’ve seen more laws come into place to regulate how businesses use personal email addresses.
You can’t just start sending random emails to customers – you have to get their permission. First, have them sign up with their email addresses and ask them to tick a box to confirm that they want to receive marketing messages from you. You then send them an automatic email that contains a verification link. Ask your recipient to click the link to activate their account. You now have double confirmation that the user wishes to receive marketing messages from you. Additionally, you should prompt the new user to take your message out of their junk file. This way, he/she is more likely to see future messages in his or her inbox. Beyond that, you must put an unsubscribe link at the bottom of each message. This way, people can opt out of receiving messages from you. Once you have done all of this, you can legally email people in the UK for marketing purposes.
Steer Clear of Telemarketing Unless Your Consumer Calls You
Telemarketing and door-to-door marketing are both banned in Britain, and residents are encouraged to report any phone calls they receive. Phone calls that people report as distressing or upsetting are viewed as more illegal than simply cold calling because it also edges its way into harassment. Too many court precedents have been set where cold callers have operated in a gray area of the law and have been fined millions of dollars. Spam emails are also banned, and you now need double-confirmation proof for each of your email contacts.
Even if you get people’s written permission to call them, there are many people who forget and will report you, and you will still be fined even if you have their written permission.
If you wish to sell over the phone, then add functionalities to your website and your app that allow people to request phone calls back to them. If you call people back, then you have to make it clear who you are, you have to confirm who they are (usually by asking for their date of birth and/or their postal code), and you have to call them back within 12 hours of the request. Be aware that if you cannot conform to these rules, then you are not allowed to call them back.
Do Not Assume That Larger Cities Mean Bigger Profits
While the United Kingdom has a growing economy, the biggest mistake that startups can make is to gravitate towards bigger cities such as London, Edinburgh, and Manchester. The cost of living in big cities is between three and ten times more than the rest of the country – particularly in London, which might as well be considered a different country in terms of pricing and cost of living. There are small and broken towns that have very low commercial/industrial renting and buying costs. These towns are often surrounded by a ready group of unemployed and eager people just waiting to work for you.
The problem is that setting up shop in a smaller town reduces the visibility of your brand. In fact, most people would rather have a London address than an address in the middle of nowhere. There are two things you can do about this. You can embrace the fact that your company is new and grow within the confines of a small town, dominate, make your money, and then start opening new branches/factories in bigger cities. Alternatively, you can hire a PO box in London and use that as your mailing address if you wish.
Think Carefully About Which Part of The Country to Set Up Your New Business In
There are not really very many differences between the different parts of the United Kingdom. The biggest difference is Northern Ireland where many of the legal, commercial and economic rules are a little different. They are different to make it easier for Northern Irish people to live with the rest of Ireland.
Starting in Scotland, England or Wales makes little difference unless there are important geographic elements to consider, such as the distance between your company and a favoured port, or the need for hills, grassland, etc.
People overseas seem to think there are massive cultural differences in the UK, but most people are the same. They are either British with different accents, or they are British but are first, second or third-generation Eastern/Arabic (typically Pakistani, Afghani and Romanian). The state of Texas is three times larger than the UK. Despite this, few people think that Texans have a different culture.
There are only a few minor differences between the different sections of the UK, so they shouldn’t affect your business too much. For example, Wales has dual-language signs on the roads, and Scotland has its own type of money. There are regional newspapers and TV shows, but both are dying media formats. Furthermore, buying property in Scotland is a little different, and Scotland has its own Companies House for company registration. However, this shouldn’t matter unless Scotland is the first place you set up your new startup business.
Marketing a brand in a new place is always challenging. Even so, this guide covers the basic information you need before you enter the UK market.
How Pressfarm can help with generating publicity in a new market
Do you need help marketing your brand in the UK market? The team at Pressfarm is skilled at helping brands from different industries to reach all kinds of audiences across the globe. By signing up for one of our affordable packages, you can get a professional press release, some engaging guest posts, and a creative media kit, all of which can help you capture media attention and inspire your target audience.
Additionally, as a client, you get a curated media list from our account executive. This helps you to connect with the best journalists in your market. We also submit your startup to respected media outlets and startup directories online to increase brand awareness. Ultimately, when you work with Pressfarm, we boost your brand visibility by helping your brand feature in relevant search results across different search engines. Sign up today and let us help you break into this new market successfully.