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FROM THE FORTE

Perspective from Double Forte Public Relations and Marketing

Month

April 2015

How to Tell Your Startup Story

Old book on wooden tableBefore a startup has a product, customers, revenue, or funding, it needs to have a story. Why does the company exist? What problem is it solving? What motivates the founder?

Even after the first round of funding and the first sale, a story is a key asset for any new company. This week Double Forte cosponsored the SheStarts event  “How To Tell Your Startup Story.” Our East Coast General Manager Liz O’Donnell moderated a great panel of Boston-based journalists including Kyle Alspach from Streetwise Media, Shelagh Braley from FoundersWire, Sara Castellanos from the Boston Business Journal, Shirley Leung from the Boston Globe and Dan Primackfrom Fortune and author of the newsletter Term Sheet. Here’s are five takeaways from the event:

  • Yes you need to hone your story, but don’t rehearse it and control it to the point it becomes boring. Human sells.
  • Speaking of human, don’t be afraid to share your failures as well as your successes. Most startups struggle on the way to success. That’s what makes you interesting.
  • Metrics matter. Share customer numbers, staff numbers, growth goals. And if you’re confident enough, share revenue.
  • Use analogies to provide context. Are you similar to another company? Do you share a business model? How are you alike and how are you different?
  • And along those same lines, remember it’s good to be part of a trend; you don’t need to stand alone. You just need to stand out.

For more on the event, read this post on BostInno.

7 Rules for Following People on Social Media

follow meDo you think there’s no strategy to who you should follow on social media? Think again. The company we keep matters – in the real word and online. Here are some guidelines for who to follow on social media.

  1.  A follow reads like an implicit endorsement. If you’re an organic food company, don’t follow McDonalds. Need to monitor the market? Set up a separate account to follow the other side, or track via a social measurement tool.
  2. Following people on social media is like dressing for success. Just like you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have, so too should you follow the brands and people you admire and aspire to be.
  3. That said; do NOT ignore your peers. Don’t be a social media groupie. The first two commandments of social media are engagement and reciprocity. Talk to your peers and your customers/fans. Do not ignore them in hope of some kind of social media celebrity status.
  4. Follow your best customers and business partners.
  5. Mind the math. You’re follower/following ratio shouldn’t be equal. No one respects someone who auto follows anyone who follows them. Likewise, people who follow less than 50 percent of the number who follow them seem egotistical and uninterested in engagement.
  6. Use a tool like Manage Flitter to find people who share your interests and weed out the dead beats.
  7. Don’t go on a follow frenzy. (In other words, don’t be Taye Diggs.) Take it slow and don’t follow more than 100 people per week.

The bottom line when it comes to who to follow is be authentic. Follow the people who interest you. Engage in meaningful conversations with them. Remember, behind every social account is a person. (Unless it’s a bot in which case BLOCK that bugger!)

Give Yourself an Email Makeover

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 9.41.12 PMThe point of communication is to stop it – especially business-related email and phone calls. The average office worker sends or receives 121 emails a day, according to a report by technology market research firm the Radicati Group. That’s just not necessary. Give yourself a message makeover so that you never prolong a conversation that doesn’t need to be prolonged again.

Don’t be the business equivalent of that acquaintance you have who every time you see him says, “We should have lunch.” You both know that if he wanted to have lunch with you he would choose a date. And don’t be the business equivalent of the friend or relative who leaves messages on your home phone saying, “Call me when you have time.” I mean, define having time please. The next day I expect to have free time is April 19. Do you think the caller is really prepared to wait nine days for my return call?

Be clear in your communication. End the email chains. Stop the phone tag. Here are three examples of emails I received today, and ways to make them over:

1. “We should have a call to discuss” No! Try, “Can I call you tomorrow between 12 and 2 to discuss?”

2. “We should probably schedule a time soon to walk through (the details).” No! Try, “Are you free Monday or Tuesday before noon? We need to review the logistics. I will email you a list and we can review it on our call.”

3. “A phone call Wednesday sounds great. I love the phone.” No. No. No. Instead answer the questions: What time on Wednesday? And what time zone (per the original email request)?

As our CEO Lee Caraher says, “For the Love of God STOP IT!.”

And while you’re making over your emails, here are Lee’s four steps to make sure your email is always opened:

  1. The person you are emailing probably has NO IDEA why you’re emailing – so use your subject line to give people a clue about what they are about to read AND lay the whole reason for the email out in the first two lines of the email.photo
  2. Give explicit instructions and deadlines including FYI if appropriate so the person knows exactly what to do by when, or that it’s background and does not require action
  3. Be sufficiently formal. Hi, Dear, Hello, Best Regards, Regards, Sincerely — all good. ‘Sup, Yo, Dude, Laters, Peace Out – all bad.
  4. Run Spell Check.

Got it? Good. I will stop now.

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