Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As we near 2023, there is no doubt that we live in a distracted world. With all its many improvements and innovations, the internet has also brought a lot of noise and distraction. There is no exception to the noise regarding public relations, brand building and thought leadership.
Although the core psychology and principles behind building a unique brand have remained the same, the potential mediums to express these aspects have grown dramatically. This has left startups and established companies in a great predicament: they have too many options!
Public relations practices have become increasingly complex, resulting in a lack of clarity on the matters. Here are the three major mistakes companies are making in their PR strategy and how to resolve them to build a brand that genuinely matters today.
Mistake #1 – Focusing on the trivial
Many companies believe that to stand out, they need to showcase their product’s greatness and highlight all the little details that set it apart from the competition. But this is a losing game.
Why? Because most people don’t care about the product at all. They care about how the product will make them feel. Therefore, companies that want to gain more market share and stand out must focus on how they want their brand to feel to their target audience. The best example of this is Apple’s “Think Different” campaign.
Steve Jobs knew what potential customers would feel when they saw Apple’s campaign. By attaching the brand of Apple to the notion “Think Different” and the authority of Albert Einstein, Jobs knew Apple would forever engrave a place in the hearts of the visionaries, the misfits and the people who dared to be different. Apple no longer was a product but a way of thinking and being in the world. It stood for something and, in doing so, gave the customer permission to feel like a more bold version of themselves by owning their products.
If startups want to stand out, they must stop focusing on the trivial details of their product and instead focus on how they can make their audience feel more than their competitors. Only then can you have a brand that matters.
Mistake #2 – Promoting instead of attracting
Being the founder of a tech PR firm, AuthorityTech, I’ve been blessed to play a part in the marketing ground floor of dozens of high-growth tech startups ranging from a few million dollars to hundreds of millions in revenue. Working with so many different companies made the difference between the “okay” brands and the “great” ones. Subpar brands always seemed to have an obsession with promoting, focusing intensely on telling the world how great they were. The great brands, however, focused more on attracting through storytelling, which is infinitely more powerful.
We live in a digital age where people are constantly bombarded with ads; frankly, most consumers are sick of companies telling them how good they are. People want to do business with brands they trust, not brands that run advertisements self-promoting their superiority. Luckily, since so many companies have followed this self-promotion route, I believe it’s now easier than ever to differentiate through storytelling. Rather than talking about how good their products are, brands need to tell their story in a way that resonates. Nobody resonates with others talking about themselves, but they do resonate with stories.
Startups that take advantage of attraction through stories will drastically outperform those that continue to self-promote.
Mistake #3 – Neglecting the founder
Another common mistake most tech startups make is leaving the founder’s face, personality and voice out of their efforts. People want to connect with people, and if a founder isn’t represented as a human that can connect, people have a hard time relating to the brand. A brand is a living entity, and the best brands have a soul that is attached to that entity. How better to give the brand a soul than to have the face of the company with a soul?
If a founder can step up and communicate to the world from a place of vulnerability, truth, love and genuine passion, others will connect to them deeply. The key is to remember that if people can connect deeply with the founder, they are simultaneously connecting deeply with the company and brand.
In a world where people are craving genuine connection more than ever, the brands with founders who can step up and provide an outlet for people to connect with them will win.
Going into 2023, there are many options and mediums to take advantage of, yet also get distracted. In my experience, the only way to win is to focus on the timeless principles that matter. By focusing on how the product makes people feel and not the trivial details, and by attracting through storytelling rather than promoting and humanizing the founder so people can connect deeply on a personal level, your brand will stand out above 99% of the competitors following the herd.