Are you doing your company’s story justice?
If you feel you’re not telling your growth story as clearly, concisely, or interestingly as you’d like, take stock of what’s not working and try deploying these five simple tips. Motivation permitting, you can get started on all five this week.
- Tout Company Successes On Your Website (Add a “Wins” Tab)
No, you don’t need to use this exact label. “News” works fine, if you don’t mind being boring.
The point here is to create a central location to tout your company’s successes: a conduit through which all good news about your firm flows.
Larger companies’ news portals tend to be dreadfully rote, with even the brightest bits of news announced in monotone press release format.
Save that for PR Newswire and its ilk; use your company’s news portal to make announcements and humblebrags in big, bold terms. Remember, you’re telling a story here. Your “news” (or “wins”) tab should be a secondary blog, a reflection of your company’s culture and values.
Also: your company news page shouldn’t be shy about linking out to reputable news stories about your company, even if they’re not unvarnished good. (Remember the old saw about all publicity being good publicity.) Don’t wait to be contacted for comment, because that won’t always happen. Instead, set up a Google News alert using common company-related search terms to ensure you catch any and all press that flows your way.
Final point: it behooves you to get your side of the story out to the press. When you’re small, investing in external PR might not seem like a good deal. That’s fine: if you’re personable and know the right folks to speak with, you can probably arrange op-eds in local media and guest posts on industry-aligned digital publications. Be sure to link out to those, too.
- Get Listed on Growth-Oriented Directories (Shoot for One New Listing Per Week)
Don’t neglect the directory ecosystem. Its reach is truly humbling, with top sites like Yelp and BBB earning millions of unique monthly visitors.
Creating company directory listings isn’t always the best use of internal resources, especially when you’re growing fast and things are moving a mile a minute. So, set manageable goals: say, one new listing per week on a good-fit directory.
For rapidly growing startups, top directory candidates include:
- Crunchbase, a haven for high-growth companies, individual entrepreneurs, investors, and others involved in the startup race
- Angel.co, a hotbed for very early stage entrepreneurs and hungry investors
- LinkedIn (yes, that LinkedIn, which presumably needs no introduction)
Less prominent, but no less fruitful, directories abound. For instance: YCombinator, the famed startup accelerator, has its own company list, narrowly tailored for the funder community.
- Template a Compelling Annual Report (Ask for the Unvarnished Truth)
Even if you’re not publicly traded, and have no plans to make your debut on the public stage anytime soon, you probably need to create annual reports in some form. (If you don’t, please tell your friends where you found such laid-back investors.)
The question is, how compelling is your annual report? Is it worth readers’ time?
Tap a dispassionate third party, such as a former colleague you don’t see socially or a reputable business advisor with whom you don’t have a personal or professional past, to review your current annual report template. Repeat this process as often as necessary to get a sense of your template’s strengths and weaknesses. Then, review the basics of creating a compelling annual report and huddle with your creative team ASAP to plan a better look for yours.
- Tweak Public-Facing Charts (Remove Superfluous Values, Add Markers, and More)
Visuals matter. Subject your current marketing and public-facing data presentations to the same treatment as your annual report. Then, as you did for your AR, review the finer points of better data presentation. Look for simple, commonsense tweaks like removing superfluous values and adding visual markers in complex charts.
Remember, you should never assume your audience isn’t smart. But you shouldn’t assume they’re expert chart-readers, either.
- Turn Fruitful Client Relationships Into Compelling Case Studies (Send Out a Call for Stories)
Send out a “call for stories” to clients whose own stories are bound up in yours. They might be your first lead, or a committed booster, or possessed of an unusually compelling relationship narrative. (Did your company’s services save them from oblivion? Make their lives immeasurably easier? Precipitate a massive hiring rampage?)
Feature their stories prominently on your website, in your social feed, and in marketing materials. Give them space to tell their tales in their own words, even if you have to clean up the narrative a bit.
How Are You Telling Your Company’s Story?
This isn’t the end of the story. (No pun intended.) There are plenty of additional ways to tell a corporate story, not all of which are appropriate for your firm’s values, industry, or growth stage. If you’re not sure where to start, poll your fellow founders about their own storytelling experiences. They’ll surely share their successful and not-so-successful attempts to showcase what they’ve worked so hard to build.