Small business: Your business online - Sandra Lukey

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Sandra Lukey, director, Shine Group, a communications company which offers tech businesses and others a range of services including profile building

Sandra Lukey, Shine Group director. Photo / Supplied
Sandra Lukey, Shine Group director. Photo / Supplied

Many tech businesses are online only. How do they manage to get the word
out about themselves when they first launch?

Getting the word out requires a lot of time and effort and a good plan to get the results you want.You need to be really clear about your message, positioning, and who you're targeting. The aim is to build trust and credibility by developing a connection and engaging with your desired audiences. Whether you slowly get the word out or want to make a big bang will depend on what you're trying to achieve. Each has pros and cons. A soft launch will allow you to gain feedback and acceptance.The big advantage of a hard launch is that you can use all the channels at your disposal such as social media, blogs, websites, videos, media releases, key influencers and presentations to focus attention on a launch date. To really make an impact and to build a profile, a sustained effort is required. Once you've launched your company or product you need to regularly communicate success and news about your company and products.

What good examples of company launches have you seen?

Great launches are all about telling a good story. Rod Drury's launch of Xero was the perfect example of how to do it. One of the reasons Rod was able to really quickly make a splash with Xero was that not only did he have a compelling business idea, but he'd built two other really successful businesses and had attracted some really high profile people. So he had credibility in spades and a great story. Xero communicated really well to its key audiences including potential investors, potential customers, commentators and media. They were extremely good at keeping the conversation going and very accessible for media comment. Wynyard Group, a spinout of JADE Software has also done a fantastic job of making a big impact and notching up success quickly. ProjectManager.com did a fantastic job of launching online by securing a key domain name, optimising search and offering great content and templates for people to engage with - they quickly gained tens of thousands of customers. PowerbyProxi have also made a big impact in recent months with their wireless charging technology.

What do successful small businesses use to give them profile?

Companies that are really focused on building their profile will use social media along with a range of other methods to share engaging content and success. PR is more often than not a really important part of the mix to help get the company's story out there wider and build the brand. Media articles also add credibility and contribute to improved search results for the company too. Companies that are good at building profile also take the time to connect with key influencers and leverage reference clients as a way of building trust, credibility and profile.

There are many small companies who operate under the radar but have good,growing businesses. Why should they bother with a media profile?

Small companies can become bigger companies quite quickly. As they grow they'll need to take on great staff and more often than not capital to fuel the growth. Some companies don't like profile and will put it off until they need to communicate the success of the company for this purpose. Similarly companies that do work on building a good profile in their markets will also look at building a wider profile to attract staff. A good example is software company ARANZ Geo, 99.8 per cent of their customers are offshore. Recently they've boosted their profile in New Zealand, in part as they need to attract the best staff - as top people like to be part of something successful.

Why do some companies have more profile than others? Are awards a good way of getting profile?

Companies that are doing something really fascinating will always garner interest. The Martin Jetpack created huge worldwide attention when they launched as it was something really novel that captured people's imagination. Companies with high profile entrepreneurs and investors also have an advantage as they already have a back story. But in general companies that have a good profile are good at storytelling and communicating what they're doing and why it's interesting and newsworthy. They'll also be more proactive when it comes to profile building. Awards are a good way of gaining profile if you're a finalist or winner. And going through the awards process can also be really useful for a company as a way of refining the pitch and telling a compelling concise story. Companies with heart and a great story create fans as people feel engaged and they generate profile. It's a very transparent world. The key is to be authentic and to act with integrity.


How do well established small businesses keep updating their offer without losing current customers? Tell us your stories. Email me, Gill South, at the link below:

- NZ Herald

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