In my line of business, I work with dozens of entrepreneurs on a daily basis. One of the most common questions I get from growing companies is, “How do I get the attention of investors?”
The short answer is… public relations.
Here are some great tips about what investors want to see in brands they are looking to invest with and how to show it in your public relations.
Investors are looking for companies and brands that fit certain criteria, but I believe it all revolves around one word: Authenticity. No one wants to be involved with a company that feels fake or ‘too good to be true’.
Allowing yourself and your company to be vulnerable creates a better atmosphere to connect with your potential customers and investors. Think about it like this. The best podcasters share personal things about themselves and their struggles and that’s what people love.
Opening up about your failures shows you are human, and although you’ve tried things that have failed in the past, it shows you are resilient enough to push through and find what works. We can often learn and build from others’ failures, so take the time to share the struggles you’ve gone through to get where you are now.
I share my own failures when I talk about how I started UpMyInfluence. I (poorly) spent tens of thousands hiring PR agencies and I was less than satisfied with the results. I learned from the experience and decided to build a company that provided what I needed instead of outsourcing it to a firm where I was one in a million clients. By openly talking about what I’ve been through, I allowed myself to be vulnerable and have reaped the blessings from being a personable and authentic brand.
As a brand, your job is to give value to consumers and potential investors. No one wants to buy a product or service for the heck of it if it doesn’t teach them something or provide them value. Change your mindset from wanting to sell and make money to becoming a brand that is valued.
When I owned a small town newspaper for a couple of years, one of my biggest problems was that I was afraid to “Sell”. Why? I felt so inauthentic when I offered it to potential advertisers. I knew it was a great product and it worked for the businesses we collaborated with, but my idea of what selling was didn’t resonate well with my values. I used to think selling was “Just trying to convince someone to do something”. You want them to buy a product, join an email list, or enlist in your online courses, so you do what you can to convince them to do it, right? Wrong.
My definition now has nothing to do with that. How I define selling is “Finding ways to bring value to other people.” With this mindset, “if it’s a fit, great. If not, that’s fine. I’m just here to serve.” You bringing value to other people doesn’t mean they’re going to buy your product right away. Focus instead on giving them some sort of insight, some great adviceor tips, maybe even lead them to a competitor, or refer them to another type of service provider they may need more. If you do this, they will TRUST YOU. Down the road this could lead to their business or a referral, because you led them in the right direction. This same advice applies to investors. What value can you bring to them? Try not to worry about what you ‘need.’
If you have a heart for bringing others value, you’ll soon see that opportunities will open for you.
Give, Give, Give.
Give away your best stuff for free! Create a document full of tips and tricks for your website visitors to download. The first thing you see on the UpMyInfluence website is a downloadable roadmap with 10 of my favorite PR tools to build authority and sales. We also recently made the decision to give away our $1200 video course for free. I also offer my knowledge and
experience for free in an informative webinar which is very light on sales. You might consider a freemium model so people can get to know you first before asking them to pull out their credit card.
I believe the day of the one-page paywall website is over.
In the day of podcasts and Youtube, people expect to build a relationship before exchanging money.
When you give away your best stuff for free, consumers will start to like and trust you more. It shows a lot of faith in your position as a thought leader to give away knowledge for free. I am not necessarily saying you need to spend all your one-on-one time for free. Be very clear on what you give away and what you charge a fair rate for. Always helping out with free answers to questions in a facebook group you are a part of is a brilliant strategy to get lots of referrals.
When consumers start liking you, they’ll spend more time with you and this could lead to more business down the road or introductions to others who need what you offer. In regards to this philosophy when working with investors, perhaps if you can ask your investor contact what they want most in a potential investment. You might give them some leads on other start-ups rather than your own if they are a better fit. If you help another startup get funded, you will likely have more than a couple people in deep gratitude to you. Having lots of people wanting to repay you will reap rewards.
Be a thought leader.
A thought leader is someone who is respected and has authority in an industry. It takes time to get to this point, but when you’re there, it’s well worth it. Build up your reputation as someone who gives freely, brings value, and is authentic. Work on developing original thought and stories – and as the Red Hot Chili Peppers would say, just “give it away.”
Authority is a big part of this, so take the time to work on your public profile. No one is going to take advice or listen to someone nobody knows. Update your LinkedIn and make those connections. Fix up your Twitter and start re-tweeting other thought leaders. Investors AND consumers want to see that people care about what you have to say, so invest in yourself and work on becoming a thought leader in your industry.
You can also find Facebook groups or meetups with other people in your industry, join workshops or host webinars to become more well known. Even take the opportunity to put yourself and your brand out there to do some pro-bono work for local co-working spaces, startup incubators, or a with a local meetup.
All of the above tips are things investors will be interested to see in a brand. Authority is a currency. None of this matters if you aren’t authentic in everything you do. The best way to start is to change your mindset. Instead of asking, “Who can I sell to?” ask “Who can I serve?”