Our Top Five Tips for Tackling Social Media in 2021

Our Top Five Tips for Tackling Social Media in 2021

Our Top Five Tips for Tackling Social Media in 2021

Written By


2020 was an eventful year, for better or worse, and to say it changed the way we communicate with other people is an understatement. Although we don’t know what to expect this year, we do know that it will continue to be critical to build great relationships with your audiences — and one of the best ways to do that is through social media. Here are our top five 2021 social media tips to implement this year.

Our Top 5 2021 Social Media Tips

1. Build Organic Relationships

Over the past few years, people have become more and more suspicious of advertisers. They don’t trust companies they don’t know, and they are constantly worried they might be taken advantage of. Many people are worried about the protection of their privacy and fake news.

This year, your top priority should be building a trusting and organic relationship with your audience. They can tell if you’re trying to trick them into trusting you, so sincerity and honesty are essential.

Most customers trust the testimony of other people more than advertisers. Ninety percent of consumers believe recommendations from people they know, and seventy percent believe other consumers’ opinions. Regardless of if they know them or not, input from other consumers is more trustworthy to most people than anything an advertiser has to say.

By building genuine organic relationships, you’re making your brand more personable and creating a human connection with your audience. They will feel like they can trust you more if you are focused on the relationship more than the sale. Look at it as an opportunity to collaborate and communicate with your audience.

2. Use Influencer Impact

No matter what platform you are on, content creators have a massive impact on their own audiences, including influencing the companies they patronize. Take advantage of this pull and work with influencers. Find a creator whose content is related to your brand and have them promote your product and be an enthusiastic ambassador for your company.

Many growing companies hesitate to try and implement an influencer or brand ambassador program because they don’t think they have the budget for the heavy hitters, but as time goes on it has become clear that micro influencers cost less and carry just as much weight thanks to their highly engaged audiences.

However, be careful to vet who you choose to work with. Make sure any partnerships you create are with people who embody your company beliefs and values.

3. Create Live Content

Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, and lots of other platforms all have live streaming options now, and they want those capabilities to be used. Live streaming has become more popular than ever, as users search for a way to feel connected while isolated.

Live video content is a great way for you to engage with your audience in real time. Host Q&As, product launches, behind-the-scenes, interviews, and more. No matter what you’re streaming, live content makes your brand appear more personable and allows your people to really get to know the people behind your brand.

4. Speak Out About Social Issues

Between COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, social issues are at the forefront of many consumers’ minds. The Q4 2020 Media Insights Report from Merkle found that fifty-six percent of consumers have no respect for companies that are silent on important issues.

Acknowledge the significant issues your customers are facing and show your support. With meaningful and educational content regarding the topic as it relates to your business, your audience will see that you are concerned about real issues. While impartial used to mean professional, it now runs the risk of coming off as tone deaf, so choose your causes and your stances wisely.

5. Diversify Your Social Media Presence

By now, most brands know they have to utilize the biggest social media platforms simultaneously to have the greatest impact on their audience. Although new arrivals come and go every year, you can rest assured your time is well spent establishing a substantial presence on them on the core platforms. They aren’t going anywhere.

The effort you expend to develop a relationship with users on different platforms is extremely worthwhile. You can reach different audiences depending on the platform you use, and each site has its own features and can showcase a different side of your brand personality.

Depending on the type of content you are posting, you can decide which platform it is best suited for. For example, long videos should go on YouTube, but you can also post shorter ones on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Don’t be afraid to post a piece of content on more than one platform, either.

Regardless of where you spend your time, remember is to use all the features they offer — especially the new ones. Stories, reels, and lives are all great ways to connect with your audience and are favored by the Instagram and Facebook algorithms.. Take advantage of that by riding the wave of favoritism while it’s there.

Successful marketing requires adaptability, so don’t keep using old strategies. Cruise through the unpredictability of 2021 confidently with these tips to optimize your social media usage and create genuine connections with your audience.

These are just a few of the high level ways to execute a stellar social media game plan for 2021. For a much deeper dive into every platform, their recent changes, and what to pay attention to this year, download the &Marketing 2021 Social Media Playbook for below.

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About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Key Workplace Safety Trends Into 2021

Key Workplace Safety Trends Into 2021

Key Workplace Safety Trends Into 2021

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Safety and PPE have been at the forefront for governments, health care systems and C-suites across the world. Wearing masks to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 has been highly recommend and even mandated. For your own personal protection gloves, hand sanitizers, using cleaning wipes and regular hand washing are essential. Occupational Safety and PPE will continue to be critical as the economy starts to open. A major discontinuity, identified in an earlier article “Emerging Stronger Post Pandemic”, is the heightened awareness and need for cleanliness and hygiene which, experts agree, is likely to continue well beyond the virus.

Rahul Kapur Ex-Chief Strategy Officer, Aearo Technologies (now 3M) Managing Director, Icon Investment Partners Senior Advisor, &Marketing, Crossroad Transactions July 2020

Unprecedented Change

There have been unprecedented changes in the Safety and PPE over the last few months. Many of these are expected to continue as economies around the globe start to re-open – probably in fits and starts as there have been, and will be, local flare ups of the virus. Learning on better treatment of the virus has, thankfully, reduced the number of people passing away. Many of these changes are likely to be more permanent in nature or at least last for several years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of workplace safety – starting with health care but in industries across America and the world. As companies reopen it is important to communicate with returning workers to make them aware of the safety measures in place, how to comply with them and that proper personal protective equipment and general cleaning materials such as soap and hand sanitizer are available. It should be clear who within the company will answer questions that will arise.

OSHA has already published guidelines that include what workers should understand about the virus, https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHAFS-3747.pdf. It is offering free on-site consulting for small to mid-size companies.

As per OSHA, health care workers are at the highest risk followed by “workers with high-frequency interaction with the general public” (e.g., schools, restaurants and retail establishments, travel and mass transit, etc.). In many cases office workers are continuing to work-from-home where possible, but others returning to their work sites. Strict protocols need to be in place to these protect these workers, especially those at greater risks such as certain age groups and those with certain health histories.

Safety is More than a Slogan…..it Saves Lives

OSHA Guidlines

Employers should ensure that their workers understand:

  • Differences between seasonal epidemics and worldwide pandemic disease outbreaks;
  • Which job activities may put them at risk for exposure to sources of infection;
  • What options may be available for working remotely, or utilizing an employer’s flexible leave policy when they are sick;
  • Social distancing strategies, including avoiding close physical contact (e.g., shaking hands) and large gatherings of people;
  • Good hygiene and appropriate disinfection procedures;
  • What personal protective equipment (PPE) is available, and how to wear, use, clean and store it properly;
  • What medical services (e.g., vaccination, post-exposure medication) may be available to them; and
  • How supervisors will provide updated pandemic-related communications, and where to direct their questions.

Increased Demand for PPE

Demand for PPE such as masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, cleaning wipes and hand sanitizers has sharply increased since these are the only products that can protect you from contracting the disease till vaccinations are available and herd immunity is built. This will take time. Given the stringent social distancing rules more widespread usage of PPE is crucial. This is especially true as the economy re-opens and if there is a second wave of infections. PPE products will be worn by individuals plus there will be demand by companies as people return to work after the lockdowns. Workplace safety is a major concern and, for now, PPE usage is the only option.

The PPE market is estimated to be $46 billion in 2019 according to a MarketsandMarkets report and should grow to $58 billion by 2022, at a compounded annual growth rate of over 6.5%. https://www.yahoo.com/news/ppe-market-benefits-coronavirus-pandemic-121412766.html

Supply issues around PPE were a major factor in the initial months, especially imports from China. Those that were aggressive in finding supplies gained not only in sales but also their customers’ gratitude.

More and more end-users are approving secondary suppliers and SKUs as part of their Risk Mitigation program as well as setting up monthly meetings with suppliers to get updates on the key product supplies.

A number of companies stepped up to expand manufacturing capabilities and increase production. This includes the traditional safety companies like 3M, Honeywell and Draeger as well as a number of new entrants, many of whom saw the opportunity to help their country in a time of shortage. This particularly includes those with sewing capability, those with the ability to bottle hand sanitizers and companies who could manufacture sophisticated ventilators. Good examples are Eddie Bauer, Nike, American Seating, Graffiti Shield, My Pillow, Jim Beam and even GM & Ford.

Longer-Term Change Expected

Based on my experience working with safety companies, research conducted and perspectives from prominent voices in safety by Safety+Health magazine (https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/19964-the-future-of-safety?page=1) there are four more significant longer-term changes expected:

  • Personal hygiene and area disinfection practices will become a part of the routine for the foreseeable future.
  • Strict protocols and administrative controls will be required & enforced for locations with more than a certain number of people.
  • Company and organizational policies will be needed for activities such as employee travel, sanitizing, disinfecting, additional training requirements and using / leveraging technology for safety.
  • Many PPE companies faced serious problems with their supply chains; particularly those importing from China. Now is certainly not the time for single sourcing. Many are seeking alternatives in Mexico and Central America. Other Far Eastern countries are becoming potential suppliers.

There are likely to be more guidelines developed by the CDC, OSHA, etc. to help organizations deal with this emerging “new normal”.

Beyond these, there will be other changes in occupational safety that business leaders should be considering. These include:

  • More and more companies will improve their Disaster Preparedness Plans starting with an evaluation of how they reacted to this pandemic and what they learned. The pandemics has forced Disaster Preparedness Plans from being “nice to have” to becoming essential.
  • There will be continuing updates to product standards, new workplace protection requirements and guidance, federal and state policy enhancements, and strategic undertakings by the PPE industry and governments to increase preparedness efforts. Following these will be important.
  • With these new guidelines, safety professional will need to ensure that procedures to verify these practices are in place and performed properly. Primary these will include ensuring social distancing and barriers if people cannot meet distance requirements (shields at retail establishments are a good example). Other guidelines may emerge as we gain new knowledge about the virus.
  • Safety training will increasingly go on-line and innovative methods are evolving. Internet training will push beyond clicking a PowerPoint to become more interactive and with live demonstrations. Knowledge checks will be incorporated.
  • There will be safety implications on working-from-home. These are yet are not clear.

Strategic Implications for PPE Providers

So what does this mean for PPE providers as they navigate through these uncertain times? Here are somethings that business leaders should be thinking about.

Fixing disrupted supply chains is mission critical. PPE was not alone. This affected almost every company. 94% of the Fortune 1000 companies reported seeing coronavirus-driven supply chain disruptions (Fortune, 2020). There is increasing discussion on domestic manufacturing of “essential supplies” with PPE near or at the top of the list. While moving completely away from China may be difficult, more diversified supply chains are emerging. Companies are looking at the Far East, Mexico and Central America. Mexico and Central America’s proximity makes them more attractive with lower shipping costs and imports not being on the high seas for four weeks. This is what PwC, AmCham call a ‘China+1’ strategy. https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/coronavirus-companies-expect-china-operations-normalize-under-3-months-pwc/576355/

Selling PPE at Retail and On-line will Exponentially Expand. These channels are becoming more and more important to tap into the consumer demand for masks, gloves, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizers, etc. Sales of these products have exploded on Amazon; even gas stations are stocking them. More and more companies are starting to sell direct from their websites.

The Winners will be Those who Innovate. This creativity can already be seen in face masks where a tremendous range of products are already available. These include colors, designs, logos; many are reusable and there are even copper infused masks that are “breathable with double-layer barrier”.

A number of Covid Safety Kits have been introduced. These include an employee safety kit with a selection of safety products for people returning to the workplace by Arbill; Samsara Luggage globally launched Essentials for Covid for travelers; and Quest Safety Products is introducing kits targeted at several uses.

There have been other recent innovations, including (i) antimicrobial scrubs for medical staff and scrubs with anti-chafe stitching, four-way stretch, articulated knees, and stretch waistbands that enable greater mobility and increased comfort; (ii) antimicrobial respirator masks where silver and copper act as antimicrobial agents that kill and inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungus; and (iii) surgical gloves with perforation indicators and a higher level of protection using double gloving.

Maintaining Relationships with New Customers. Many PPE companies, especially distributors, have gained new customers especially where they had much needed supply. Continuing to build these new relationships can be an opportunity for growth. Here a combination of Account Based Marketing (ABM), sales force efforts and Inside Sales programs and help. ABM is a strategic marketing approach that targets a set of customer via digital marketing to build awareness and uses content marketing to build brand image at multiple levels in the customer’s organization.

In Conclusion

Personal protective equipment (PPE) has emerged as the only normal way to step outside when the world is faced with the highly infectious coronavirus. The major trends that are likely to persist are increased personal hygiene and area disinfection practices, strict protocols and controls will be required & enforced where larger numbers of people congregate, policies will be needed for activities where there is employee interaction with the general public, additional training will be required and supply issues will need to be fixed. Retail and on-line sales of selected PPE products to individuals and small businesses will be a more significant opportunity. Innovation, that meets consumer and end-users needs, will be crucial. Finally PPE companies have gained customers in these unprecedented times and should make an effort to build relationships with them.

About the Authors

Rahul Kapur has 40+ years of successful business experience spanning a variety of areas. As a business consultant, he provides companies of all sizes with his expertise in strategy development, M&A, new products & innovation, and data analysis and modeling. His experience includes Unilever, Dow Chemical and Aearo Technologies (now 3M). He is Managing Director of Icon Investment Partners, Chairman of Guilford Group, Managing Member of Ark Capital Investments, LLC, and Senior Advisor for &Marketing, Crossroad Transactions, and Quest Safety Products, as well as on the boards of several start-ups.

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

8 Tips for Generating PR for Small Businesses

8 Tips for Generating PR for Small Businesses

8 Tips for Generating PR for Small Businesses

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Have you ever wondered how stories surrounding companies, leaders, or business topics get covered by the news media? No matter how it gets communicated to you – via TV, social media, or online news – it’s likely that whatever news you’re consuming was strategically placed there by a public relations professional.

PR can be a powerful tool in the communication toolbox to establish credibility, build trust with and engage your audience, create brand recognition, and position your company and its leadership as a thought leader. But it can be tough to know when news really is newsworthy. And even then, where do you start? Here you’ll learn how to tell if your news is newsworthy and how to create a strategic and research-backed approach to getting coverage for your company.

8 Tips for Generating PR for Small Businesses

1. Determine Whether Your News IS News

Do you have something new and interesting to say? Do you have a unique perspective on a trending topic? Do you have news that is timely? Is there an unmet need you’re solving that you want people to know about? If the answer is yes to any of these, then you should consider PR for your business.

The question then becomes whether your news is valuable and compelling enough that a broader audience (i.e. people outside of your organization) would find it interesting. Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating if your news is indeed newsworthy:

  • Timeliness: Does it impact or reflect current events? For example, COVID-19 is a topic that continues to dominate the news cycle for obvious reasons. Can your news somehow be tied to COVID-19? If so, look for reporters and news outlets that have previously covered similar news stories or written COVID-19 articles for your industry.
  • Location: Does it impact your local community? People that live and work in a specific area want to know more about things in that area, as it affects their daily life. Can you tie your topic to a local community? If so, targeting media outlets that cover that specific region would be a great way to secure interest.
  • Human interest: People like learning about people. Is there a leader in your organization that has a relevant or relatable story to tell? If so, this person should have a unique perspective, quality or angle that brings value in some way to the audience you’re targeting.
  • Impact: Will your topic have an influence on the audience you’re reaching? Will this topic matter to them?

When evaluating whether or not your company news is news and trying to generate PR for your small business, remember to think of it from the point of view of the audience or stakeholders you’re trying to inform. Of course YOU think your news is news, but will anyone else be interested?

2. Set Concrete Goals

This can easily get overlooked, especially when timely news or an announcement arises and you need to act quickly. Start by establishing clear objectives for your PR activities. What are you trying to do? Build brand awareness? Position your product in the market? Demonstrate credibility as a thought leader? Amplify an announcement? Secure interest from VCs? The clearer your goals, the easier you’ll be able to measure the results.

3. Identify Target Audiences

Once you identify the goals you want to accomplish through spreading the word about your company’s news, it’s time to shift focus to the audiences that will help you accomplish these goals. Who are you trying to reach? What spaces do they hang out in, and where do they go for information? What voices and sources do they trust

Take the time to think about how you identify your target audience. Is it geographically, by age or gender, or maybe by interest or industry? PR for small businesses often succeeds because of a strong focus on the exact right audiences for that piece of news. It’s critical to spend time getting to know and understanding the audience you’re targeting, as this will help you identify 1) how to reach them and 2) how to develop strong messages that will get them to act.

4. Develop a Strategy

So once you know who that ideal audience is, how can you reach them? If your goal is thought leadership, consider bylined articles or speaking engagements. If your goal is to build brand awareness or position your product in the marketplace, pitch reporters to get earned media hits in publications or podcasts. If you have a corporate announcement you’re making, consider developing a press release and pitching it under embargo to prospective reporters.

After you’ve established the audience you want to reach, this is when you’ll create a targeted media list with outlets and reporters to contact. Research the outlets and reporters who speak to your target audience and have covered topics similar to yours in the past. Check out the list of tools below that can help do the research by identifying outlets, reporters, and contact information!

While earned media is the more traditional approach to PR, there are also other ways to obtain coverage. The PESO model (paid, earned, shared, and owned media) is a widely used strategy for thinking about segmenting your approach. This graphic by Spin Sucks, a professional development and training organization, explains the model well.

5. Create Key Messages and Pitch Note

Now you’ve got your goals, audience, and strategy lined up. It’s time to outline the actual meat of the news you want to share. Think about the top three points you want to make, focusing on the critical pieces of information your audience should walk away with. Develop a key message document that lays them out with supporting, data-driven facts. You yourself what the research is telling you. What is your customer’s problem and how are you solving it?

After you know the most important points of your story, develop a pitch note that you can use and customize in your media outreach. The note (which you’ll send via email) should be brief and highlight the most interesting and valuable information. It’s important to customize each pitch note to the specific reporter you’re reaching out to.

How do you customize? Check out the recent articles they’ve written, their social media accounts, blogs, etc., and refer to something timely in your email. Think about a way that they could uniquely cover your story based on their style or what they typically cover. Don’t forget to offer the opportunity for the reporter to interview and speak with your spokesperson!

6. Prep Spokespeople

You’ve offered outlets the chance to speak to someone at your company, so what happens once they say yes? Hopefully, before you pitch, you have identified the relevant subject matter experts that will tell your story and share your messages. Get that spokesperson ready for potential interviews through a media prep session. Focus on best practices for delivering key messages and speaking with reporters. Remember to go through your key messages, and don’t hesitate to request that the outlet send the questions over ahead of time if there will be an interview involved.

7. Execute Your Plan

Congratulations! You’ve laid all of the groundwork to execute effective PR for small businesses. Now it’s time to execute, and in order to do that, you’ll need some key supporting materials:

  • One-pager for spokespeople with key messages.
  • Media list of targeted reporters (including both traditional media, podcasts, and blogs). Use this larger list to pull from for targeted outreach around specific topics.
  • Prepped third-party spokespeople to help tell your story from an outsider’s perspective.
  • An editorial calendar outlining pitch ideas for milestones or announcements you’re planning for, as well as “evergreen” topics. Align those with any special events or themes you see happening within the outlets you’re seeking to pitch.
  • A social media and blog cadence for owned content on your website to serve as a channel that supports your news.

8. Monitor & Measure

Once you begin pitching, how do you know your strategy is effective? In order to measure the success of your PR campaign, you have to identify some metrics and figure out how to score them. The first step is to establish KPIs (key performance indicators). These can include coverage, reach, sentiment, and social media engagement, to name a few. PR efforts are well-known for being tricky to quantify and measure, but setting goals up front and what will be used to measure them will help

PR Tools for Small Businesses

Below are a few tools every small business should have in their PR toolbelt.

1.To research outlets and reporters, build media lists, monitor coverage, try

2. For media monitoring services, test out:

3. To connect reporters with subject matter experts and sources, sign up for HARO.

PR, and more specifically media relations, is a critical part of any business’s communication and marketing strategy. And while the thought of pitching the media might seem daunting, the above tips can help guide the process. Just remember, it’s important to evaluate your news to ensure it’s of interest to the people you’re trying to reach!

Having a coordinated marketing plan is critical as a foundation you can use to build on with a PR strategy. For help creating and executing your 2021 marketing strategy, download our workbook

About the Author

Rachel Gormley is a seasoned project manager with experience in strategic communication, public relations and event planning. An effective communicator armed with strong organizational skills, she can see a project through successfully from inception to completion, managing the fine details and ensuring seamless collaboration across workstreams. Rachel works hard to build and maintain strong client relationships. She takes pride in immersing herself in her clients to understand their needs and to make the recommendations that are best for their business.

Rachel graduated from Drexel University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and a Minor in Marketing.

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

5 Marketing Strategies To Try In 2021

5 Marketing Strategies To Try In 2021

5 Marketing Strategies To Try In 2021

Written By


As we learned in 2020, what worked before isn’t always going to be what continues to drive results. Modern marketing was flipped on its head when COVID-19 swept the world last year. As the months have gone on, we have learned to pivot where we need to, lean in where we can, and identify what strategies and tactics are still working, along with what needs a fresh approach. So now that a brand new year is here, what should you keep doing and what should you change?

We can’t predict the future, but we can use data, research, and lots of experience with our clients to tell you what marketing strategies to try in 2021.

5 Marketing Strategies to Try in 2021

1. Sharpen Your Messaging and Uniqueness

Many businesses don’t take the time to understand their target audience’s true needs, and how their solution uniquely solves the problem their customers have. Competition is stiff, and digital messaging is flooding every channel. Break out of the echo chamber and get your audience to listen to you by narrowing your messaging to focus on exactly how you’re different. But be careful not to make it all about you. That uniqueness should be highlighted in a way that puts your customer in the spotlight, not your brand.

2. Nurture Your Email List

Some of you might be surprised to see this subject on a list of marketing strategies to try in 2021, but we assure you that email is not dead. Lots of businesses spent way too much of their time focusing on social media followers and not nearly enough on the people who have already said they want to receive content straight into their inbox.

Social media is great for generating brand awareness and connecting with people, but you will never own it. Mark Zuckerberg owns Facebook and can change the algorithm with a snap of his fingers, plummeting your organic reach. But email? That you own, and you can guarantee when you hit that send button, your message will go straight to a group of people who want to hear from you.

3. Implement a Data-Focused Content Strategy

Content marketing is powerful when you do it right, and most growing businesses don’t. Without research, data, a concrete plan, solid copywriting, and a way to get your message to the right people, you’re just shouting into the abyss. Focus your efforts in the right places and you can establish yourself as a thought leader, build trust, and attract an audience who is ready to buy from you.

Search engine optimization (SEO) may seem intimidating, but it is worth the effort to build into your content strategy. There are many, many techniques to improve your SEO, and they can be pretty technical (we try to simplify it some here). However, the main thing to keep in mind is that you should be creating content for real humans with consideration for search engines, not the other way around.

4. Manage Your Online Reputation

Google is leaning harder than ever into highlighting local businesses when people are searching for something online. You need to claim your company listing on Google My Business and spend some time updating your profile, requesting, and responding to reviews. Your online brand reputation is critical and will be even more so in a post-COVID world. Plus, customer reviews can actually impact your local SEO, because Google likes when you leverage their platform.

5. Get More Social

Yes, we did just tell you to pay more attention to your email list than to social media, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a strong social plan in place when nailing down your marketing strategies for 2021. The key here is to work smarter, not harder. Embed your social media strategy into your overall content strategy. Repurpose blogs and email content by pulling out quotes, breaking down the content, and turning your articles into video or graphic series. In 2021 your social media content is going to work even harder for you because Google is starting to index social content —so get to work on those SEO keywords when writing both website blogs and posting on LinkedIn.

A fresh marketing strategy can re-energize your business for a new year. With a little bit of work, you can reach new audiences, draw in more customers, and grow your company. These 5 marketing strategies to try in 2021 should be the foundation of your plan, but foundation alone isn’t enough — you have to consistently execute. Our Marketing Planning Like a Pro workbook will help you do just that.

Need a more comprehensive marketing course to help you get a more complete grasp on your 2021 marketing strategy? Enroll in &Marketing U to get all of the tools, education, and accountability you need to grow your business this year.

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

The Six Essentials Startups Need Most When Seeking Investment

The Six Essentials Startups Need Most When Seeking Investment

The Six Essentials Startups Need Most When Seeking Investment

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Start-ups seeking new investors, regardless of the level of investment, need to better understand what drives individual investors or venture capital firms.

Around 65% of venture capital backed businesses fail to get a positive return on capital (ROIC) for investors. Because of this risk, investors have to be selective. Most investors look for six specific things when considering an investment in a startup business.

what do startups need

What Do Startups Need Most?

1. A Meaningful, Unique & Innovative Product or Service

Investors look for a product or service with a compelling reason for customers to change current habits, or see something that is truly unique. Meaningful patents or trade secrets are also highly desirable for investors. Either way, the product or service should have strong differentiators. The functionality provided by a unique and innovative product should be readily apparent, making the sale process easier. Minimal barriers should stand in the way of the buying process, making it easy for customers to convert.

A differentiated business model is a major plus. As an example, in recent years, leveraging the internet has provided a way to reach consumers not easily accessible before – some notable examples are:

  • Direct shipping of fast moving consumer goods delivered quickly to people’s homes versus in-person retail
  • Online mortgages via Quicken Loans that supersede the need to go into a physical bank
  • Lyft, which offers on-demand, easy to reach transportation versus hailing taxis

Investors will rarely invest in an existing and successful “me too” product where there will likely be a fight for market share. Just a “good idea” is not sufficient either. Most investors get involved with only a small fraction of ideas they screen, so it’s essential to stand out. The leading reason that start-ups fail at 42% is that there was “no market need.”

Successful startups are constantly seeking to satisfy their customers…. Design your products with the customer in mind. Remarkable startups listen and respond to their customers’ evolving needs and expectations.

Thomas Oppong

Founder, Alltopstartups

2. Ability to Gain Traction with Large Potential

Investors seek viable businesses that have traction in a well-defined core market, or at least a strong beachhead. They are looking for loyal customers, a low customer churn, and a high rate of repeat purchase. These can be good indicators of a viable product or service. According to Entrepreneur magazine, a common factor among successful startups is that they are constantly seeking to satisfy their customers and the whole organization is aligned to this goal. So, the product or service needs to be designed with the customer’s satisfaction in mind.

Further, it is essential that investors see proof that there is a large enough potential market for the product or service. Very niche products will not meet most VC company screens unless the market has a clear and significant gap. Remember that given the inherent risks and the low success rates, investors are unlikely to take a huge risk and will only focus on opportunities with a high return – a goal of a 10x return is not uncommon.

3. A Strong Team with a Solid Leader

The team, with a strong leader, is another top factor for investors and is a leading indicator that a business can succeed. The bottom line is that investors invest in businesses and the team.

Investors are looking for teams that are passionate and knowledgeable about their product, service and industry. They will be asking themselves the following types of questions of the leadership team and the CEO or Founder:

  • Are they experienced, either as entrepreneurs or within the industries they aim to serve?
  • Is the team fully committed?
  • Are they willing to listen and take advice?
  • Will they be able to find solutions or pivot if there are headwinds or roadblocks?
  • Do they seem calm and competent under pressure?

23% of start-ups fail because they did not have the right team in place so as a startup, the people you surround yourself with are critical.

4. A Detailed Business Plan

Developing a reasonably detailed business plan, at a minimum of three years, is an essential part of what investors evaluate. This plan should include:

  • An overview of the product or service with clearly articulated key differentiators as well as the major target prospect groups. Identify the target’s pain points and articulate how the business solves them.
  • The plan to expand the organization, add marketing and selling capability, and improve the product or service (development, engineering, etc).
  • A clear outline of the market, competitors and the potential opportunity (both short term and long term).
  • An organization overview with key employees and any key relationships & partners, including both existing and future possibilities.
  • A financial forecast which uses existing trends and educated predictions and clear assumptions to show the projections of revenues, operating costs, cash flow, and the bottom line.
  • A summary identifying four to six main reasons why this business is an attractive investment.

5. Investment Thesis Fit

Investors, particularly venture capitalists (VCs), are looking for companies that fit their investment philosophy and focus on areas where they have expertise. This means they’re looking for businesses where they can add strategic value. This benefits the companies they back as investors since they can concentrate their mentorship and advice to industries where they have deep experience. Many investor groups build up their know-how and expertise in certain market verticals by engaging people with senior level experience in those verticals.

6. Investment Terms

A final key element of the investment is the terms. Startups need to clearly communicate the following:

  • Overall valuation of the company, and on what basis that valuation was established.
  • The amount of funding being raised and, if applicable, the sources of those funds.
  • The type of funding (equity, debt, convertible debt, etc) and any associated dynamics (timelines, future expected rounds, etc)
  • Use of funds, which would likely include expanding the organization, adding marketing and selling capability, furthering product development, or similar examples.

Many startups fail in at least one of these areas, or don’t present their investment terms clearly.

In Conclusion

Based on decades of experience meeting entrepreneurs and reviewing investor presentations, these six areas continue to be what startups need most. In almost every initial meeting, a startup fails to meet at least one of these criteria, and almost immediately disqualify themselves. Entrepreneurs seeking funds should remember one key factor summarized well by Paul Graham, Founder of Y Combinator: “Investors are pinched between two fears: fear of investing in startups that fizzle, and fear of missing out on startups that take off.”

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About the Authors

Rahul Kapur has 40+ years of successful business experience spanning a variety of areas. As a business consultant, he provides companies of all sizes with his expertise in strategy development, M&A, new products & innovation, and data analysis and modeling. His experience includes Unilever, Dow Chemical and Aearo Technologies (now 3M). He is Managing Director of Icon Investment Partners, Chairman of Guilford Group, Managing Member of Ark Capital Investments, LLC, and Senior Advisor for &Marketing, Crossroad Transactions, and Quest Safety Products, as well as on the boards of several start-ups.

Jeff is the founder of Crossroad Transactions. He has over thirty years of experience in a variety of executive and entrepreneurial leadership positions, plus over 15 years of dedicated experience as in M&A. He has been Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award winner for the Midwest Region and Founder of Inc. Magazine “500 Fastest Growing Private Company”.

Jeff earned a BS in Marketing from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University and he is a graduate of the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac Entrepreneur Program. He is a lifetime member of the Institute of American Entrepreneurs..

Rajat “Raj” Kapur is the founder and Managing Director of &Marketing. He strives to provide growing businesses of all sizes unparalleled marketing strategy and execution services. Raj brings two decades of professional experience in marketing, sales, and strategy development experience spanning B2B and B2C Fortune 50, mid-sized, and startups.

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.