EstablishCred Research 2021: Surviving Cutthroat
Competition In Tech By Using The Media

This goes without saying, but startup competition is insane. Globally, people start over 31.7 million startups annually. That’s a whopping 86,800 startups daily. In the US alone, 804,398 startups were less than a year old in March 2020.

If you’re on the internet reading this, you likely understand how difficult it is to stand out online in a sea of over 1.8 billion websites. So even when you’re planning to use the media to grow your startup, stiff competition awaits you.

Additionally, 55 percent of startup leaders already admit that competitive research is the most valuable advice they’d give to new businesses.
Because let’s face it, unless you’re starting a new product or service category, there are already established businesses in that industry. And then again, competition can be indirect too.

Media Changing Format?

The term media can mean a “means of communication, (such) as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the internet, that reach or influence people widely.”
But if you look closely at that definition, you’ll discover that all those other means of communication are on the internet. There are newspapers, magazines, and radio/television stations on the internet. So while “media” in the native sense hasn’t changed, the internet contains much of what we know as “media” today.

State Of The Media: What Are Your Chances?

With all this competition in the media, do you stand any chance? Let’s crunch the numbers.

  1. 48 percent of millennials in the US use social media as the first news source.
  2. 48 percent of millennials in the UK use a news website or app as their first news source.
  3. Mobile apps and web apps have a combined reach of 191 million in the US.
  4. In the US, people spend over 650 minutes — over 10 hours — on an average on mobile devices daily

With the right strategy, using the media in whatever form can grow your startup. “Whatever form” because although smartphones have gained an extensive reach considering its relative newness, TV and radio still have a wider monthly reach in the US.

However, wider reach doesn’t necessarily mean the best reach. Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and search engines like Google and Bing allow you to reach definite people with your offerings. For example, you can create ads to target single women in their 30s who use online dating services. It’s that specific.
The fierce competition for attention in the media only means that startups need the right strategy to succeed. Additionally, your finances, time, target market, competition, and niche, among other things, will determine the best blueprint for your startup.

What Media Pros Think About Your Media Efforts

We have observed that media professionals and startups often have contrasting ideas about the media. One thing they both looked like they agreed on is the importance of pitching and the difficulties in measuring ROI from media placements.

  1. 94 percent of journalists prefer email pitches to other types of pitching
  2. 92 percent of journalists prefer pitches in the 2-3 paragraph range
  3. Only 4 percent of clients ask for sales figures from media placement
  4. 72 percent of PR pros say measuring ROI is the biggest challenge their industry is experiencing
  5. Less than 10 percent of all pitches ever get a reply

Whether you’re hoping to see increased engagement, more brand awareness, or higher sales from your media efforts, pitching journalists or other media pros the right way is vital. But that pitch is often the most challenging part.

Our research has shown that 91 percent of millenials will patronize brands associated with corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts or causes they support. If your startup is giving back to the community, even when that isn’t related to your startup’s product or service, that could be a nice angle for pitching the media.

But understand that the reception will vary based on several factors like the media outlet, your demographic, and sometimes a seemingly insignificant factor like the time of the placement. And in most cases, that will not be the only angle for pitching a media outlet. Whatever the case, give your story the best chance to stand out and succeed.

Key Takeaways: Using The Media For Startup Growth

Fighting for media placements as a startup isn’t a one-off affair. It needs continuous effort and a willingness to diversify and, for some startups, tread uncharted territory. Here are a few key takeaways:

  1. Pitching more media outlets increases your chances of landing a placement, sometimes even if you’re paying for coverage. Ads are the exception to this — at least most ads.
  2. Startups need to decide tangible ways to measure the ROI of their media outreach efforts.
  3. Researching the competition is vital. Think “what placements are they getting, and how can I get them too?”
  4. The internet has revolutionized media as we know it, probably forever. In the nearest future, most of what we call media will be on the internet.

What This Means For Your Startup

Competition isn’t always a terrible thing. Sure, it might be frightening for new startups, but it is unavoidable.

Consider this example. If you were starting a marketing technology (Martech) company in 2011, you would have had 150 competitors; in 2015, that number would be 1,867; and in 2020, you would be competing with 8,000 Martech solutions. A similar pattern exists in several other industries.

It’s great to live in an era where you can grow a million and sometimes billion-dollar business via the right media coverage and placements. And thankfully, you don’t always need to hire in-house PR professionals or advertising experts to help you reach your lofty media placement goals.

The right digital agency can create and execute the right media strategy for your goals. Whether that is brand awareness, increased engagement, more traffic, or even more sales, there’s something for every startup.

So when you think of the competition, think of all the ways their existence can benefit you:

  1. Better insight into marketing and sales tactics
  2. Better insight into marketing and sales channels
  3. Better insight into the best media placements

The list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the point.