10 Ways to Promote Your Startup in the U.S. for Free

Even though Europe and Asia are steadily developing their startup ecosystems, the United States remains ahead of the curve. According to the analytical report Global Startup Ecosystem 2021, eight U.S. cities are among the world’s 20 largest startup clusters, and the most prominent positions are still held by Silicon Valley and New York. Today, I’m going to talk about the methods that we at Mindset Consulting regularly use to raise awareness of our clients in the highly competitive U.S. market.

Method #1. Podcasts. Today, the U.S. is far from the only country where podcasts are popular, but it is here that you will find the greatest variety: from lifestyle and business podcasts to more niche shows devoted specifically to health tech or education.

According to the latest research, 55% of Americаns listen to podcasts: on average, they tune into seven different shows per week.

A company speaker’s participation in a podcast effectively establishes an emotional and conceptual connection with an audience. We at Mindset actively place experts into different podcasts, including those run by prominent business and technology media, such as TechCrunch, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, and VentureBeat.

Method # 2. Standalone journalist blogs. Since 2008, the size of editorial offices in the U.S. has been reduced by 26%: the global monetization of content leads to many journalists choosing freelance over permanent staff positions. Many of them don’t just work as freelancers for several media outlets but develop their own projects.

For a small company that’s the new kid on the block, such blogs are an excellent method of gaining mentions and stories with their target audience. The important thing is to check the blog’s Domain Authority: this indicator should be no less than 70 for your story to make it to the top of the search results and for the company website to assemble quality link mass.

Method # 3. Expert blogs at Medium. In recent years, the Medium blog platform has become one of the principal alternatives to traditional American media. The site’s content is indexed by Google quite well, and if a story gains popularity on the site itself, its position in search results will also be strong.

In 2021, the keyword “startup” was the second most popular on the platform, and over 480,000 users subscribed to its updates. The subject of technology was also in the top 10, with more than 330,000 followers. All in all, according to data from Similarweb, in January 2022, the number of visitors to the site exceeded 165 million people.

Keeping your own blog on Medium is a rather prosaic activity that also takes quite a while to bring in results. One of the methods of quickly gaining good reach is guest blogging and collaborations with experts. Find authors from the areas complementary to yours, and suggest integrations in the form of comments or proper articles.

Method # 4. Twitter. This is a perfect channel for establishing connections with international journalists! Literally, everyone from all key media has a Twitter, writing both about their work and personal lives; you can comment on their posts, share your thoughts, and build rapport if you haven’t been introduced. Many journalists are open to receiving DMs, and often it’s even more effective than pitching by email.

I remember how a couple of years ago, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed sometime before New Year’s, admiring the photos of brightly decorated homes. In January, when I got back to work, I began my pitch to a TechCrunch journalist with the words: “My Christmas tree was also in gold color. I have attached a photo.” He replied that my tree was even brighter than his and scheduled a call with my client. One personalized sentence is enough to convey that you know exactly who you are writing to.

According to the Muck Rack study, 34% of journalists choose social media as their first source of news; 27% use Twitter as the main source of information. This is why you shouldn’t discount #prrequest and #journorequest hashtags. Every day, these hashtags garner 30–40 posts with requests from the media. All you have to do is choose the relevant ones for your business and quickly get in touch with the author.

Method # 5. LinkedIn. LinkedIn remains the main platform for communications with the professional community worldwide. Today, LinkedIn brings together almost 740 million users, 48% from North America and Europe.

When entering the U.S. market, use this network to establish professional connections. You can use LinkedIn just like Twitter to communicate with journalists — but be sure to use it for follow up, not for pitching.

Method # 6. Collaborations. If your product transforms traditional perceptions of certain processes, you must try to establish rapport with the relevant professional community and broadcast your new approach using expert voices.

Say you have a startup that offers an entirely new approach to recruiting. How can you convince the public that your strategy is effective and sound? One method is to directly interact with potential users, specifically HR managers and candidates. Gather a focus group and tell the participants about your service, helping them understand and accept the new work format. Next, word of mouth inside the professional community will do your job for you.

Remember that people are wary of dramatic changes, so to implement them and bring your product to the top, you will need the support of those whose opinions people trust.

Method # 7. Newsjacking. Borrowing another story for your purposes can help to draw attention to a brand and even secure relevant media coverage. There are a couple of scenarios that can work here: you can share your opinion about an event that’s relevant to your business on social media or offer an expert commentary to a journalist, which is precisely what we often do at Mindset Consulting.

For example, in November 2021, the United States and Israel announced the establishment of a joint cybersecurity task force, and a Forbes contributor published a request related to this story on the HARO platform. Since one of our clients is the Israeli-American venture fund Flint Capital, specializing in investments in data protection companies, the account manager reacted swiftly. Together with the company speaker, she prepared a large commentary on the importance of partnership between the two countries. The story was published with a quote from our client.

At the very least, I recommend that the following news on Twitter be in the loop regarding events that gain traction with audiences. React quickly, provide quality original commentary, and make sure to talk about your personal experience relevant to the precedent. However, be careful with your statements: an ill-considered reaction to a touchy subject may have a negative impact on your business. This is especially important when entering the U.S. market, where reputation is not an empty phrase.

Method # 8. Awards and ratings. Participation in awards and rankings is an effective tool for establishing the founders’ personal brand and promoting the company. According to a study conducted in the U.S. by the British Quality Foundation, the operating profits of award-winning small businesses increased by 63%, while their sales volumes grew by 39%.

There are many awards for entrepreneurs, startups, enterprises, and projects, from industry-specific to widely known. But don’t attempt to take part in all of them at once: first, preparation requires engagement and resources, and second, not all awards are made equal. It’s best to spend your time doing some research, assess your chances realistically, and determine the options that can bring the best results.

Method # 9. Q&A websites. Q&A platforms such as Yahoo! Answers and Quora help raise a brand’s profile, increase the level of trust, and bring target traffic to your website. Publications of Q&A websites are well-indexed by Google and often can be found on the first page of search results. For example, Quora has organic traffic in excess of 50m people a month, while the total number of unique visitors exceeded 300m people a month by the end of 2020.

To find yourself at the top and reach the greatest number of users possible, choose the questions to which you can give the most valuable answer supported by your expertise and personal experience. Remember that even a very short thought must be packaged in an answer at least 250–300 characters in length. If you are answering a clearly targeted request for information, definitely include a link to your site, but don’t overdo it — as a rule, Q&A platforms strictly enforce “no spam” guidelines.

Method # 10. Email marketing. Today, a newsletter is not just an effective tool for promoting your company but is a full-scale new media, and even a business, in its own right. For example, in late 2020, Business Insider bought a controlling stake in the Morning Brew news startup largely for the sake of their newsletter about business and finance, which had 3m subscribers and a revenue of $75m a year.

We recommend the launch of newsletters to all of Mindset’s clients, followed by work on growing your audience. Using this powerful instrument, you’ll be able to shape the image of the company and its services/product and influence the opinion of your followers. To collect the initial database of emails, publish a relevant subscription form on your website, and request information from your loyal clients directly.

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Founder of Madrid-based consulting firm Mindset Consulting. Global Public Relations #Consultant specializing in strategic #communications

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Dina Mostovaya

Dina Mostovaya

Founder of Madrid-based consulting firm Mindset Consulting. Global Public Relations #Consultant specializing in strategic #communications

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