Advice for Small Town Startups, 8/10 - Public Exhibitionism is Good Marketing

Document everything. Get a good camera. Take video of your journey. Start a blog, and write about your challenges and successes. Schedule a regular time each week to update documentation, including your website. Your company story is important. You have to remember to document it, though, or no one else will ever know it.

Liem Casey is the CEO of PCH, a company that manages the supply and distribution chain for products manufactured in China. I once heard him say his company started with a plane ticket. Originally from a small town in Ireland, Liem was working in China sourcing textiles for the garment industry when he noticed an opportunity to import electronics. Today PCH, which started around what one Irishman saw as a potential opportunity, now employs hundreds of people and has offices around the globe.

My own company started with a party. My co-founder and I designed an interactive exhibit in an attempt to market our skills to potential local companies. The event failed spectacularly as a local marketing exercise, but one young videographer uploaded a couple videos to youtube and we landed our first client.

You don't have to plan your company story, but it is important to understand what parts of it you should focus on. Events, tests and concept work (as long as you aren't revealing trade secrets), presentations, and personal stories can all be part of your company history. Huge setbacks are important too, because the way the company survives difficult times can reveal more about the character of the team and the strength of the leadership then knowing how well they work together in good times.

Things your company story can and should do:

  • Frame the direction and future of the company
  • Validate why you are the right person or people to execute the vision
  • Serve as a backdrop for your company culture

Practical Tips:

Get an external drive specifically to archive things like test footage and newsletters and press. Back it up, and keep copies of everything. Do not rely solely on online services like Youtube and Vimeo to save your videos; you should always have local copies.

Share anything interesting on Youtube and Facebook and anywhere else you possibly can. It doesn't have to be polished, and actually shorter videos (under a minute) tend to get more views. Learn to write good descriptions and keywords and always link your videos back to your website. If you include information that is subject to change (like a launch date or sale), make sure you can update this information when it changes. It's best to use annotations or the description for this kind of content so you can update it easily.

This body of documentation establishes you as a credible and experienced business. It also helps you show up in search results if you remember to stick keywords on everything and you update content regularly. It's a really inexpensive and valuable way to build your reputation, and it is essential for a small company from a small town no one has ever heard of. It's also a great way to remember everything you've been through together (like keeping a family photo album), which helps you remember how far you've come.